"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Lyveden New Bield

Until 1594 the 14th century manor house at Lyveden (the Old Bield) was surrounded by a small walled garden. Sir Thomas Tresham (1543-1605), owner of the Estate, decided to extend the garden to include a garden lodge (Lyveden New Bield or New Building). The lodge would be approached via orchards, terraces and canals - a place to provide pleasure and secret worship. Sir Thomas Tresham was a Catholic at a time under Elizabeth I when the religion was banned. His own son Francis was later a conspirator in the Gunpowder plot. For much of the period when the lodge was being built and the gardens created Sir Thomas was kept under house arrest and had to supervise work at Lyveden via letters to his agent. Architecture in Elizabethan times often included symbolism, allegory and fantasy. At the time of his death in 1605 the lodge was still not completed and work ceased on the building.

Lyveden New Build is a unique building more or less unaltered since Tudor Times.

Sir Thomas Tresham was born into a leading Northamptonshire family. He studied at Christchurch, Oxford and became a lawyer at the age of 17. In 1566 he married Muriel Throckmorton - a daughter of a wealthy Catholic family from Coughton Court, Warwickshire. She and Thomas had 12 children of which nine survived - 3 sons and 6 daughters. Sir Thomas enjoyed a lavish lifestyle spending much money on entertaining.

After leaving Fermyn we drove to nearby Lyveden in search of something to eat and a cup of tea.

Cream Tea

Red Kites were flying low over the tearoom garden.





We debated whether to walk to Lady Wood in search of more Purple Emperors but to be honest it was very very hot and we decided to have a leisurely stroll round the grounds of Lyveden instead.

Sir Thomas had already designed a triangular lodge at Rushton where he used a repetition of the number 3 to represent the Trinity of God The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. At Lyveden he also used the number 3 and in addition the numbers 5 (which represent the wounds Christ received on the cross) and 7 (which symbolises the 7 instruments of the Passion (Crucifixion). The building was planned in the shape of a symmetrical Greek cross with religious symbols - many of which have still not been deciphered today. New Bield is comprised of 5 equal squares and each arm of the cross terminates in a bay with 5 sides each measuring 5 feet which adds up to a total of 25 feet. The 25th is the date of both the Nativity in December and the Annunciation in March. This was a typical example of riddles so enjoyed by the Elizabethans.

Religous symbols all around the lodge between the first and second floors.

In the carving on the right a ring of Roman helmets and gauntlets surrounds three dice each with the number 5 surrounding a garment of Jesus - this symbolises the dice thrown by soldiers to decide who would own the garment. In the centre can be seen a crown of thorns surrounding the cross with a ladder, spear, sponge, hammer and pincers. On the left a circle of twisted linens surrounds a scourge pillar, crown of thorns and sceptre of reeds. On the pillar is a cockerel which Jesus said would crow once Peter had denied him three times.

On the left Judas's money bag is surrounded by a circle of thirty pieces of silver. In the centre a twisted cord surrounds the lantern, torches, swords and spears used in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested.

On the left can be seen the monogram IHS which are the first Greek letters of the name Jesus. The circle surrounding it contains trefoils from the Tresham Coat of Arms. In the centre can be seen the letters XP from the first two letters of the Greek name for Christ.

The exterior walls show 3 sets of shields and the diamond shapes also occur in sets of three.

There were many examples of graffiti - here on the exterior walls. I always enjoy reading these and wondering about the history of the people behind the names.

Today the entry into the lodge is via the servants' quarters in the basement. The lodge consists of three floors - the basement used by servants and the ground and first floors used for entertaining all suggesting that Sir Thomas intended the lodge to be used as a gentleman's house on a small scale. It has been thought that an additional floor was planned.

Interior graffiti

"I W 1681" - graffiti that may have marked a visit, birth or death.



One of the spiral "snail" mounts with a circular path, surrounded by a moat

Adult and juvenile Coot

Adult Moorhen and young


We crossed the bridge over the moat and walked to the top of the mount.

The meadow in the distance has a labyrinth path - covering a mile.


One of the wild flower meadows

The gardens were restored by the National Trust in the late twentieth century. We didn't have time to visit the orchard which has been re-planted with over 300 trees. Sir Thomas planned an orchard full of apples, damsons, pears, cherries and walnuts but after his death Lady Tresham sold many of her husband's fruit trees to Robert Cecil.

Before we left time for a vanilla and ginger icecream.

*D - Photos taken by my son with the Canon SX50 bridge camera
The rest of the photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera

Reference : Guide Book to Lyveden New Bield by the National Trust


David Gascoigne said...

Red Kites overhead while having scones and clotted cream seems pretty idyllic to me!

Ragged Robin said...

David Gascoigne - Thank you. I think it is the closest I have seen Red Kites - even closer than in the Chilterns :)

Ian said...

Another excellent tour of English heritage and gardens plus great photos of the Red Kites:)

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - Thanks so much. Lovely to hear from you and I hope you are keeping well.

Rosie said...

So much of interest both Tudor religious symbols and old and modern graffiti,if only walls could talk, it's a fascinating building. Both cream tea and ice cream look delicious and how wonderful to see red kites overhead as you sat and enjoyed them.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you - it really was a very interesting property. If only it hadn't been so hot as I would have loved to go along the labyrinth path, explore the wildflower meadows and orchard. The tearoom was very good I thought.

Pam said...

Aren't the Red Kites beautiful to watch! Some lovely photos, you have some gorgeous places where you are!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks so much. Yes, I do love watching Red Kites :)

John Scurr said...

"On the left can be seen the monogram IHS which are the first Greek letters of the name Jesus. The circle surrounding it contains trefoils from the Tresham Coat of Arms." When I look at this circle I do not see Trefoils. I see it as a belt with a buckle the letters I H T * E S T O. Maybe my star is the trefoil? Wikipedia suggests that IHS with a cross and 3 nails is the emblem of the Jesuits. It looks as though the symbols of the passion have been built into the H with the Ladder on the left and the spear and sponge on a reed on the right, which looks unusual. I am wondering if the I is the scourge or whip and the S is the cords which bound his hands.
At a time of religious persecution it is amazing how many religious symbols he included in his building.
I am on safer grounds with the coat of arms in picture 36. Tresham at the top and Throckmorton upside down at the bottom.

CherryPie said...

It sounds like a wonderful day out. The red kite would have made my day :-)

John Scurr said...

On picture 16 I struggle to see a trefoil in the left hand device. I see a belt with a buckle with the letters IHI*ESTO. The IHS is intersting in the way it incorporates various Instuments of the Passion. Wikipedia suggstes that IHS with a cross rising from the crossbar of the H and three nails below is the Emblem of the Jesuit Order.
In addition here the ladder is used for the lefthand upright of the H and the spear and reed and sponge for the righthand upright. I think the I is actually the whip and the S is the cord with which He was bound. I can't find on the internet another example incorporating so many of the Instruments of the Passion into the letter IHS.
At picture 36, nice example of the Tresham arms and an inverted example of the Throckmorton arms.
Long time since I visited Lyveden New Bield. You certainly saw a lot more than me.

Bovey Belle said...

What a truly amazing place that is. You could write a booklet just on the graffiti down the years - how fascinating those are. One with a date of '75 - one assumes 1875 rather than 1975!

There is so much to see and I shall return to this and go through at a more leisurely pace (eldest daughter packing to go home so will make the most of her last half hour here).

Ragged Robin said...

John Scurr - Thanks so much for so much interesting information. Please accept my apologies for late publication and response but we have been on holiday.

Your comments are so fascinating and thank you so much for all the extra information. Must admit I can't see the trefoil either! - was mainly going on info in the guide book.

Amazing how the Throckmortons have cropped up yet again!

It is a fascinating place with all the secret hidden religious symbols - I understand not all have been interpreted. Hope you get chance to visit again.

Bovey Belle - Thanks so much - apologies for late publication and response - we have been away! The huge amount of graffiti was fabulous - could have spent hours looking at it all.

I hope you had a lovely time with your daughter.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you - we had super views of the Red Kite.