Thursday, 24 July 2008

Hoghton Tower.

In answer to a question from yesterday asking where I was in the picture, no, I was not at Little Moreton Hall, although my National Trust membership card will be taking me there soon, I think. I was at the little known Hoghton Tower near Preston. I had enjoyed lunch (apart from my pudding, which was rubbish, but I am no pudding fan anyway, so serves me right, everyone else's was nice) at the Sirloin Inn and then visited St Joseph's Church, which you may already have read about below before arriving and just caught the last tour. Apart from being a fine example of renaissance architecture, the Tower is famous for two reasons, firstly it is where King James the VI (he who spent the main part of his reign chasing his friend George Villiers, with whom he was besotted, around the country) knighted the loin of beef 'Sir' Loin, hence it's name to this day. We were shown the room George slept in and the room James did not sleep in, which was interesting. The tower is also famous for being the probable host to William Shakespeare on numerous occasions. This has always been the family understanding, in the same way that it is the understanding that a chasuble I have contains within itself the baptismal gown of Richard Duke of Aragon, ebroidered by the Queen of Spain. Nice, but probably untrue, but not provable one way or the other. However, unlike my simple vestment, research is making it seem more and more likely that Will did indeed stay here and the newspapers are picking up on the story as well, much to the delight of the Baronet De Hoghton who is short of a few bob, if the state of the ceilings are anything to go by!

The most interesting thing for me, though, was the flag. As I walked up the drive I noticed a simple flag of three black and three white stripes, looking or all the world like a pirate flag. The guide pointed out that as the De Hoghtons were one of the first knighted, landed families, they had one of the simplest designs, no need for intermarried designs or something to stand out, they were the first, so got the simplest. Good for them. Clearly this streak of good fortune petered out at some point because even though the estate is vast, at one point they also owned the Wirral, Preston and Liverpool but lost them all at cards in one night. This is the problem with great wealth, it seems to breed tremendous stupidity, meaning that your great great grandson has to open the family home to rampaging tourists to keep afloat.

I am afraid that there are no pictures of vestments in this post, so it will probably go unnoticed. I have mentioned one, though, so you never know. There is also no mention of the drivel from Lambeth either, sorry.