Estate & Family (previously "The Montague Papers")
6 August 1764
Deeds: Midhurst - Easbourne
27 December 1769
To be LETT
To be Lett, on a Lease of seven Years, and entered upon immediately, at Easebourne, a pleasant Village near Midhurst, in Sussex.
Cowdray House, Sussex
"... the estates of Sir William FITZWILLIAM, created Earl of Southampton in 1537. His purchase of the Cowdray estate had brought him the manors of Cowdray, Easebourne ..., and Rustington, the lordship of the borough of Midhurst, and the advowson of Easebourne. Then in 1536 he received a grant from the Crown of..., the site of the dissolved abbey of Waverley in Surrey ..., including the manors of Waverley, Wanborough, and Markwick and Monkenhook (in Alford), all in Surrey, and the rectories of Waverley and Wanborough; the manors of Neatham (in Holleybourne), Swarraton, and Boyatt (in Otterbourne), all in Hampshire; the manor of Dockenfield (in Frensham) in Surrey and Hampshire; and the manor of Shaw [Grange] in Berkshire: and ..., the site of the dissolved priory of Easebourne, with some of its possessions, including the manor of Worthing, the rectory and advowson of Compton, and the advowsons of Midhurst, Fernhurst, and Lodsworth."
"The Earl of Southampton died in 1542 without issue ... his properties ... subject to the life interest of his widow, passed to his half-brother Sir Anthony BROWNE .... The Countess lived until 1550, but Sir Anthony BROWNE seems to have entered upon the properties at once."
"Sir Anthony BROWNE ... succeeded his half-brother. In 1537 he had received from the Crown a grant to himself, his wife, and his heirs male ....
"The 8th Viscount died unmarried in 1793 ..., and the title passed to Mark ANTHONY, his fourth cousin once removed, a friar at Fontainebleau in France, who forthwith obtained dispensation to marry. To the new Viscount passed, also, the manors of Poynings, Perching, and Pangdea ... granted in 1537 to Sir Anthony BROWNE and his heirs male. The rest of the estate the 8th Viscount left to his sister, Elizabeth Mary .... A few weeks before his death, Cowdray House was almost completely destroyed by fire."
"In 1794 Elizabeth Mary BROWNE married William Stephen POYNTZ, son of William POYNTZ of Midgham, Berkshire ....
"Forty years ago, Cowdray House, possessed of high antiquity, presenting a grand and perfect exterior, and an interior richly stored with the treasures of art and industry, in curious furniture, valuable paintings, and a library abundant in MSS., was the residence of Lord Montagu. It is now a mass of irretrievable ruins. I shall not here attempt to detail the circumstances of the accident which produced this awful calamity, so distressing to the family, and so fatal to the mansion, which had preserved its ancient splendour, no less in its banquets than its architecture, during many centuries; but it may be briefly remarked, that on the fatal night of the 24th Sept. 1793, was rapidly demolished by fire a building which had been reverentially preserved and constantly inhabited by the founder's posterity. The fire, which commenced in the north gallery, soon extended itself to the chief apartments joined to one extremity, and those on the opposite connected with the gateway; and the ruins betray the power of the element, and the extent to which it carried its ravages, no individual member of the structure having escaped injury except the kitchen.
The situation of Cowdray House is low and sheltered, in a park of great extent, commanding almost every beauty with which nature could grace it. Excepting its vicinity to Midhurst, which a steep and well-wooded hill shuts out, though little more than a quarter of a mile distant, the site of this house seems to have been selected for no particular advantage, since it comprehends none of those scenes which distinguish many other parts of the park .... In the midst of the level track, the Arun pursues its course with silent celerity, between deep and narrow banks, and forms the boundary of an otherwise unenclosed lawn. A spectator accustomed to the system of ancient Domestic Architecture, will readily discover, as he approaches the building, an exception to the almost invariable rule of guarding the chief gateway by a court, at whose entrance was another though inferior gateway; and his imagination will easily and accurately supply the deficient member ... but as it must be admitted that motives of state and convenience sanctioned an arrangement which originated in an age when security was principally consulted, it must also be obvious that the front of Cowdray House has been divested of the appendages, which both ornamented and protected it, and that the river answered the purpose of a moat which might not be passed without obstacle.
... under the powerful temptation of a national improvement (for so it was deemed) in architecture - it was at least an universal alteration of its style, corresponding with a change in internal economy.
... and certain it is, that Cowdray long preserved the integrity of its style ....
... the general character and arrangement of Cowdray House, on the four sides of a quadrangle, one hundred feet broad from the gateway to the hall, and one hundred and forty in the opposite direction ... the chapel proves to the eastern front, a feature as bold and ornamental as a transept to a cathedral.
The chapel is suitable both in extent and architecture to the house; it is forty-eight feet long, and received its light through five lofty windows at the east end, which is of a sem-octagonal shape; their tracery is handsome, and, together with the embattled walls, remains entire and substantial. The sanctuary of the chapel was probably divided from the body by a wooden screen in the centre, from which point the width of the building is increased on the south side only. There are two doorways, one on each side at the lower end; that towards the south opens into a porch, which has an entrance on every side. Opposite is a door-way leading to a handsome apartment of the house, twenty-five feet long; the other openings lead into the gardens. The consecrated enclosure is obstructed by rubbish, and overgrown with weeds, and a cluster of brambles flourish on the spot once occupied by the altar."
There are few Tilburys with the given name of Oliver, and it might have signified past sympathy with Cromwell's cause. (Cowdray House was taken over by the parliamentarians during the civil war.)
Sarah, James' sister, married William PARKER in October 1796 in Steventon. Usually (but not always) a marriage took place in the bride's parish.
The fire at Cowdray House was in September 1793. Since the house was mostly reduced to a ruin, indoor servants at least may have either lost their employ, or have transferred to other premises belonging to the Montague family. Unmarried daughters might have gone to live with relatives, or been found a place by them?
Richard Tilbury of Midhurst
[The tower enclosed the old kitchen on the ground floor, with an apartment above; after the fire an additional floor was inserted between the kitchen and the apartment, and the papers were kept there (possibly a steward's office).]
"A much later bill of a rustic snip will finish these notings. In 1672, Gilbert HANNAM founded a Grammar-School in Midhurst. It is to be hoped for the credit of that Institution, that Richard TILBURY was not one of the alumni.
Publications from Google Books Online
Family History, September 2006 - August 2008