The Jenkinson-Paston Legend

Never more his children staid there,
Little cared they for their own;
Known only as their graves they made there,
Remembered only on the stone!

Catharine

The ancient manor house of Hawkesbury, which stood opposite the church, was for a long time the residence of the Jenkinson family until it was pulled down, probably soon after 1770.

In the introduction to his poem ‘Chavenage’, R. W. Huntley states that “A melancholy accident is said to have occurred there something more than a century ago, in consequence of which the family deserted it, and it has subsequently been taken down. Sir Robert Jenkinson, then in possession of Hawkesbury, learnt that his favourite daughter had admitted the addresses of Mr Paston, lord of the adjoining parish of Horton, who was a strict communicant in the Church of Rome, and a warm adherent of the royal line of Stuart, while Sir Robert was a firm supporter of the House of Hanover, and a determined Protestant: he therefore took the earliest occasion, when Mr Paston visited at Hawkesbury, of dismissing him as a suitor, and forbidding him his house. The young lover, in leaving the place, cast a look towards the building and perceived the lady at an upper window; he kissed his hand as a parting salute; when she, leaning forward to return it, fell, together with a portion of the window, which was extremely ancient, into the court-yard below, and perished in the sight of her father, who was almost a witness of the catastrophe”.

In the poem itself, the author identifies the young couple as Clement Paston, and Catharine, daughter of Sir Robert Jenkinson.

The Rev H. L. L. Denny, in ‘The Manor of Hawkesbury and its Owners’, published in 1920, presumes that this Sir Robert Jenkinson was the 2nd baronet, who had four daughters who died unmarried, the eldest being named Catharine (or Catherine). The birth date of Catharine is not known, but it is recorded that she died on April 24th 1710. The Paston family held the manor of nearby Horton, and one of the sons of John Paston (born 1669/70, died 1737) was named Clement. Again, the birth date of Clement is unknown, but he died in 1788 at Worcester.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to confirm the story, since the ages of the Catharine and the Clement mentioned above do not appear to match satisfactorily.

CHAVENAGE

A tale on the Cotswolds

R.W.HUNTLEY, M.A. James Burns, London, 1845 (pp 113 – 128)

The Manor-house of Hawkesbury was formerly the seat of the noble family of Jenkinson, Earls of Liverpool and Baronets. A melancholy accident is said to have occurred there something more than a century ago, in consequence of which the family deserted it, and it has subsequently been taken down. Sir Robert Jenkinson, then in possession of Hawkesbury, learnt that his favourite daughter had admitted the addresses of Mr Paston, lord of the adjoining parish of Horton, who was a strict communicant in the Church of Rome, and a warm adherent of the royal line of Stuart, while Sir Robert was a firm supporter of the House of Hanover, and a determined Protestant: he therefore took the earliest occasion, when Mr Paston visited at Hawkesbury, of dismissing him as a suitor, and forbidding him his house. The young lover, in leaving the place, cast a look towards the building and perceived the lady at an upper window; he kissed his hand as a parting salute; when she, leaning forward to return it, fell, together with a portion of the window, which was extremely ancient, into the court-yard below, and perished in the sight of her father, who was almost a witness of the catastrophe.

O HAWKESBURY MANOR, Hawkesbury Manor,
Why so empty stand thy halls?
Why in dampness droops thy banner,
Rust the weapons on thy walls?

Echo once, in playful answers,
Mocked, thy shadowy roofs along,
The tripping step of sportive dancers
As they mixed the maze among.

Echo once, when lads light-hearted
Raised in turn the mellow strain,
Trilling back, ere it departed,
Softer gave the tones again.

Silent now, no minstrels vying
Challenge Echo to reply;
Nought, save heavy night-gales sighing,
Gains the answer of a sigh.

Hawkesbury Manor, Hawkesbury Manor,
Why so empty stand thy halls?
Why in dampness droops thy banner,
Rust the weapons on thy walls?

“Tell me Catharine, tell me truly
Who the youth that rides the vale?
Tell me why, at night-fall duly,
Still thou walk’st the moonlight pale?

“Who within the arbour seated,
Lists with thee the nightingale;
Warm his plaintive suit repeated,
Soft, – as doth the bird bewail?

“Gentle child, – all wounded newly, -
Trust to me the tender tale;
Tell me, Catharine, tell me truly,
Who the youth that rides the vale?

“Must my pain, – long silent, – hidden,
Deep within my bleeding breast,
By my fondest mother bidden -
Must the secret be confessed?

“Love, – can I say it? long has pained me,
Still concealed my maiden shame!
Long a doubtful fear restrained me:
For our worship, – not the same!

“Oft my trembling soul would falter,
Oft to speak my mind would move,
But, – cleaving to the Roman altar,
Clement Paston – has my love!”
“Image worship! – holy water! -
Bauble relics! – Latin mass! -
Pity! pity! Gentle daughter,
Break thy dream, and let it pass!

“Never, Catharine, can thy father
Join your hands, and bless the hour;
In bitterest tears his heart would rather
On thy coffin drop the flower!”

Who is this, with strength diminished,
Reverend in his silver hairs,
Waiting till his course is finished,
Weary of a world of cares?

Catharine, wherefore shun the greeting,
And the kiss thou dost desire?
Why avoid the saint-like meeting
Of thy grave and tender sire?

“Daughter, kneel! – but, ere my blessing,
Speak, – and the sad truth impart, -
Is yon papist boy addressing
Craft and flattery to thy heart?”

“Father, I cannot deceive thee -
But I am no longer thine!
I am his! – Forgive, forgive me!
And his soul is one with mine.

“Yesternight the promise past me,
‘Neath that Eye which never sleeps:
Do not from thy blessing cast me -
But the word hath left my lips!

“Frown not, father, nor reject me!
From my solemn compact driven,
All thy love could not protect me,
For we spake with Christ in Heaven!”

“Catharine, Catharine, rise and leave me, -
God I fear! – His word is true! -
Some hastened death will soon receive thee, -
I have not mine honour due.

“My wrath is great! – nor stay, – nor tarry! -
Darkly angered at thy word, -
Leave! – while my frail heart can carry,
Sorely burdened, to the Lord!

“Give thy hand! – the gift shall sever
Sire and child, beyond redress;
Never will I own thee, – never
Hail thy wedlock! – never bless!
“Join a Church where works are merit!
Where prayer is offered to the dead!
Join a Church which mocks the Spirit,
And adores the priest instead!

“Go where Stuart kings, respected,
Still they plot to bring again;
Outcast race, and twice rejected, -
Outcast thou, – with them remain!

“Leave! and to thy chamber take thee,
Till thy face I seek to see;
Pray that grace may not forsake me, -
Pray that thou may’st honour me!”

Who appears, in habits courtly,
Stately followers, pomp and din?
Who demands his audience shortly
With the aged knight within?

From the lofty lattice bending
Why doth Catharine gaze with pain?
Doth she love the youth descending?
Wishful doth she view the train?

“Clement Paston! Hast already
Come to tell me of thy guile?
Is thy lust too hot, and heady,
To await a little while?

“Wait, – and soon the spirit broken
Weak and old I pass away; -
Keep till then thy marriage token,
Kiss her then, – and then betray!

“Take her to your house of treason, -
Teach her to your idols pray, -
Bid her worship out of reason, -
Out of law your King obey!

“But ne’er by me shall she be given
To thee or thine, while I survive;
She came from Heaven, – and fit for Heaven
She shall abide! – So may I thrive!

“ The Lord bestowed! – with deepest pleasure
I received her at her birth; -
In love, – in prayer, – all out of measure, -
I’ve preserved her pure on earth.

“She is my crown! – she is my glory!
And when with my God I deal,
And tell my life, – dark, sinful story, -
I look on her, and comfort feel!
“Ne’er by be shall she be given
To thee or thine! – so may I thrive!
She came from Heaven, – and fit for Heaven,
Unstained by thee, while I survive!

“Then haste thee hence, and vex no longer, _
I am dangerous! – leave me! – go!
A wrathful father’s arm is stronger
Than I wish a boy to know!”

“Sir Knight, I go, – and much in sorrow,
Not in anger, nor in fear; -
The whole is new, – and perhaps to-morrow
I may stand more welcome here.”

“Never, Paston!” – “Sir, remember,
In God’s hand our hearts remain!
He will mould them! Every temper
He will cherish or restrain!

“O let Christ’s Gospel not divide us, -
Mutual love is there decreed;
Nor with unthinking men deride us,
If more ample is thy creed.

“I kneel but where thy fathers, kneeling,
Went before the Lord in prayer;
And in their prayers we still are feeling
Weary feet may travel there.

“You say I am too much believing,
That I utter prayers in vain,
And fondly deem my priest deceiving
Brings me back my God again.

“O, rather think how Sin, enfolding,
Oft wraps the young within her snare,
And leads them on, no faith upholding,
To disbelief and dark despair!

“And if I think that saints above us
All our earthly trials know,
And watching, as they deeply love us,
Strive for those who sin below;

“Still deem not arguments can sully
Creeds which thus surround the throne;
But rather people Heaven too fully,
Than bid our frailties walk alone.

“If I an injured race am aiding,
And rightful Monarchs would bring in, -
Say, is my loyalty degrading?
Is my constancy a sin?
“The knightly honours which you blazon,
Their royal hands bestowed of yore;
Why am I wrong, if, for that reason,
Them I love, and the the more?

“Once, in chivalric pride arising,
Kings looked to God, and dared their fate,
And Truth before existence prizing,
In council and in arms were great.

“Then a clear line ruled this high nation,
Strong hearts behind its lion shield;
Nor blenched from what became their station,
Or on the scaffold, or the field!

“Fit they their palaces to enter,
Who, conscience-governed, bore the rod;
Nor feared we then a life to venture,
When royal footsteps led to God.

“But now, with fettered steps, and wending
As their subjects point the way,
Your German kings, in conscience bending,
Take the order, and obey.

“Go, crown them! style them God’s anointed!
Pledge them by His Blood to serve
Your novel Church! – But, man appointed, -
Pressed by man, – your monarchs swerve!

“Not with hand, but heart observant, -
Not the body, but the soul, -
I disown the gilded servant,
Toiling in his mob control!”

“Paston, romance may garnish error,
But her nature will remain;
She springs in weakness, lives in terror,
And her final end is pain.

“Thy words are heard from every scoffer, -
Empty visions in the air:
Satan a fulsome dream will offer,
While we sleep within his snare,

“But in God’s grace my child still staying
From his enchantments shall be free;
And never praying, nor obeying,
Or in Church or State with thee.

“Then go! – nor while I live returning;
May a better mind be sent!”
The young man’s face like fire is burning,
He bowed his head, – he sighed, and went.
“Rise, Sir Robert! – hasten, hasten!”
In the court-yard shrieks and cries!
Hark! the piercing voice of Paston,
Hear his word, – “She dies! she dies!

“As my horses from the stable
Hastily they bring to hand,
My eye, – turned upward to yon gable, -
Saw the window open stand.”

“My daughter’s chamber! – “There I saw her,
Motionless. I made salute:
She answered not, – nor did withdraw her:
I wafted kisses, – she was mute.

“Retiring, – for the sentence drave me, -
Still my eye was fixed above: -
When vanishing, – she leant, and gave me
A parting signal of her love!

“She leant, – but ancient is the building, -
Still she leant, – and still would greet:
Sudden, the fragile oriel yielding,
Cast the angel at our feet!”

In tears, where her forefathers sleeping,
Her smitten charms they bury there; -
The youth, in sables sorely weeping,
Distant breathed the silent prayer.

Then left this idle world, and gave him
To the cell, where troubles cease, -
Prayed that the Church, through Christ, might save him,
And join their souls in peace.

Sir Robert, ’neath his burden bending,
Speechless languished night and day;
Nor spake, till weary life was ending, -
“Catharine calls – I go my way!”

His body rested; but his shadow
Speechless often paced the Hall,
Restless walked the moonlight meadow,
Gazed upon the gable tall.

Never more his children staid there, -
Little cared they for their own;
Known only as their graves they made there,
Remembered only on the stone