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filiam Johannis Wodehous armigeri.”! It is a pathetic tale. She had admitted her error, and had gone a professed nun into the Nunnery of Crabhouse, a small house by the river Ouse, in the wild and desolate fenland. She lived there in solitude and repentance forty years. Margaret Bedingfield, the sister of her husband, by her will in 1474, among the dispositions of her great possessions, leaves this legacy, sad in its simple pathos, to one of gentle birth, then in her old age, and who had lived so long, fallen and forsaken :--“I give to the Lady Alice Tudenham, a nun at Crabhouse, ten marks.”
But his troubles continued. In 1461 he was arrested by the Constable of England on suspicion of communication with Queen Margaret, wife of Henry VI. This was in the year of Edward IV's accession, and he and four gentlemen of rank were convicted and beheaded on Tower Hill on the 22nd February, 1461. He alone of the Tuddenhams held Oxborough.
THE FAMILY OF BEDINGFIELD.
Sir Thomas did not marry again, and when he died, his sister Margaret, the widow of Edmund Bedingfield, of Bedingfield, in Suffolk, took Oxborough; and her grandson, Edmund, inherited on her death in 1474 ; her son Thomas, his father, having died before her.
1 The short account of the proceedings adds the statement :-“ Processus et sententia divortii inter Thomam Tudenham Militem et Alicium filiam quondam Johannis Woodhous armigeri racione quia erat monialis professa in Prioratu de Crabhous et nunquam carnaliter cognita per maritum suum predictum durante matrimonio predicto licet matrimonium predictum duravit et ut vir et uxor cohabitaverunt per spacium viii annorum. Durante matrimonio unicus filius ab eadem suscitatus non tamen per dictum Thomam maritum suum sed per Richardum Stapleton servientem patris ipsius Aliciæ."
2 In the proceedings it will be observed Thomas Tuddenham was callea Miles, but John Wodehouse, her father, is called Armiger.
Edmund Bedingfield was the first male of that line that held the village, and eight years after he came to it he built the hall. His first wife was Alice Shelton, the daughter of Ralph Shelton, and the hall of Shelton was a little earlier than Oxborough, and probably built by this Ralph Shelton, who held the place between 1430 and 1492. A most perfect drawing of Shelton Hall is with the Norrisian MSS., now the property of Walter Rye, and is engraved in fac-simile in his Catalogue of Norfolk MSS. in his Library, and also in our vol. xii. p. 234, and it may be that Shelton Hall, built by his father-in-law, was used the model for Edmund Bedingfield in building his house. He might wish that Alice Shelton should have in Oxborough a memory of her old home at Shelton. We are able still to compare the buildings of the two houses. The licence to build Oxborough is dated 3rd July, 1482.
I should like to pause here to refer to Mr. Parkin's description of the Hall or Castle, which was perfect in his time—it will be found on page 177 of the sixth vol., octavo edition, of Blomefield. The Hall—meaning the whole building—has been marvellously preserved. To build a new dining-room, the “Great Hall” and all the south side was sacrificed in 1778. The length and dimensions and description of its splendid roof are all given. The plan made in 1774 of the whole building is given in Britton's Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 96. He obtained it from the Rev. John Homfray. This plan and all record of the great Hall is lost. It is stated by Blomefield to be 54 feet long, and of the same height, and 34 feet in width between the two bay windows. The roof remarkable, each principal
1 Sir Henry Bedingfield informs me there is no drawing or sketch of the “ Hall" remaining at Oxborough.
being arched like the roof of Westminster Hall a century earlier. The “Hall” must have been, next to Eltham, which was Royal Palace, the finest “ Hall” of a country mansion in the kingdom, and we can now only see it in imagination rising grandly over the rich meadows which surround the home of the Bedingfields.
So Edmund Bedingfield died. But Margaret, his second wife, the daughter of Sir John Scot, of Scot's Hall in Kent, survived him, and Margaret's work also is of very high interest, for by her will, dated in 1513, she bequeaths her body to be buried in the Church of Oxborough before the image of the Trinity, where "I will a chapel to be erected”; and the beautiful work at the east end of the south aisle is the outcome of her direction. I give illustrations of it and its screen and tomb. The chapel is pure late Gothic of the date of the will, and it must have been built immediately after her death.3 But in this Gothic chapel, on which no money was spared, there remains the tomb of Margaret Bedingfield without inscription—the arms of her family, Scot, are carved in the roof—and the
1 In Pugin’s Examples, vol. i. p. 43, there are many illustrations of the Castle as it is, but none of the “ Hall.” The plan in Britton is reproduced, but the measurements differ from Blomefield's given in the text, being stated to be 50 ft. by 29 ft., who could have no authority for this.
? She died 23rd January, 1514. I have searched in the Norwich registers, which contain no record of Margaret Bedingfield's will. Where Blomefield quotes from the Norwich registers, he gives the reference—which he does not in this instance. He probably saw the will in the muniment room at Oxborough. A “ vast” quantity of these muniments were burnt by the great-grandfather of Sir Henry. I wish much to learn if a chantry was founded and endowed by the will. There is no other record of any foundation.
3 The three south windows in the photograph show the size of the chapel. The fourth window westward is probably one of the older chapel, in which the image of the Trinity was. The east window seems earlier, and was also, I think, that of the old chapel.