Roman Catholic Christian Symbolism
Thomas Tresham's 16th century 'Triangular Lodge' is intriguing ~ quite simply because it is, indeed, triangular. There are not too many three-sided buildings around!
But there is more to it than that. Triangles permeate the building ~ equilateral triangles, that is. It is symbolic of Sir Thomas's religious beliefs.
Tresham was a very devout Christian ~ and, specifically, a Roman Catholic Christian. The symbolism of the Holy Trinity was extremely important to him and his lodge is a physical prayer, in stone, to the Holy Trinity.
But there is even more to it than that. Coincidentally, in view of his beliefs, his very name meant 'three' ~ 'Tresham' was often shortened, by his wife, to the affectionate pet name 'Tres'.
The lodge is in the grounds of Rushton Hall, a mansion in Northamptonshire, in the English Midlands ~ once the Tresham family home.
Thomas Tresham's Rushton Triangular Lodge is currently owned and cared for by 'English Heritage'.
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I believe and hope that any images and / or words that are not mine have been credited accordingly and used correctly and legally.
Otherwise, the words and photos are my own. Copyright Tricia Mason. All rights Reserved.
Thomas Tresham's Intriguing Triangular Lodge
Where is Rushton, With Its Triangular Lodge?
Rushton is a village in the county, or shire, of Northampton ~ Northamptonshire.
Nearby Rushton Hall is a mansion, built by the Tresham family. Sir John started work on it in about 1438.
It remained in that family for about 200 years, before going into the hands of the Cockaynes.
The grounds are expansive and the 'folly', known as the Triangular Lodge', was built in those grounds.
Northamptonshire History + Architecture
Rushton Hall - A couple of interesting asides:
In 1828 Rushton Hall was sold, for £140,000, to William Williams Hope. There are stories of the 'Hope Diamond’ being kept here at that time.
When the property went on sale after Hope’s death, it was bought for £165,000 and became the home of the Clara and William Clarke-Thornhill. Clara was a friend of Charles Dickens, who visited the hall frequently during her ownership, and may have based Haversham Hall (Great Expectations) on Rushton.
Since then this palatial building has housed lodgers, a school and, now, a hotel and spa.
Rushton Hall's Website:
Rushton Hall ~ now Rushton Hall Hotel and spa ~ has a website with some beautiful photographs and a summary of the hall’s history.
They begin with quotes from the Northampton County Magazine for February 1929:
‘Rushton Hall is charmingly situated upon a gentle eminence which rises from the Ise, a small stream which waters the park' and it is ‘a fine and Princely residence’.
They describe the hall, which is constructed of local stone, as ‘magnificent’ ~ both from the outside and on the inside.
Originally constructed in about 1438, by Sir John Tresham, the hall continued to be 're-formed', 'embellished' and 'enlarged', first by the Tresham family, and, after around 1630, by the Cockayne family, who took over the property.
As noted elsewhere, Sir Thomas Tresham II created both the Oratory at Rushton, and the Triangular Lodge in the grounds. A church ~ St Peters ~ also once stood in those grounds.
Rushton Hall 's current facade is 16th century.
In the grounds can be found pheasant and deer.
Rushton Hall - Showing St Peter's Church
Another Christian 'Structure': Tresham's Oratory at Rushton Hall
Ancestors of Sir Thomas Tresham II created Rushton Hall, but he created the Oratory at Rushton Hall.
A plaster representation of 'Passion', dated to 1577, is housed in the Oratory.
Before being moved to this spot, this work of art was kept in St Peter's Church, which used to stand in Rushton's grounds, near the Hall.
According to the 'British Listed Buildings' site (item written when the hall was a school), the Oratory was / is situated in the 'south-west wing' of Rushton Hall and 'has a painted plaster relief panel of the Crucification'.
A text, written to accompany a 19th century picture of the hall, includes this comment: 'the most curious, as well as the most ancient part of the building, is a small oratory leading from the great staircase, containing a representation, in basso relieve, of the Crucifixion, composed of numerous characters, with a Latin inscription in gold characters.'
Rushton Hall, Northants ~ Front Elevation
Rushton Triangular Lodge - Sir Thomas Tresham II Christian Symbolic Architecture
Sir Thomas Tresham II
Lyveden New Bield, Northants - Sir Thomas Tresham II Christian Symbolic Architecture
Rushton + Lyveden
Who Was Sir Thomas Tresham ~ 'Tres'?
Thomas Tresham was a Roman Catholic gentleman, from a Roman Catholic family ~ a high status, well off family.
The Thomas Tresham in question was not the second of that name, but he was the second 'Sir' Thomas Tresham.
He was born in 1545. By the age of three, he was orphaned and was, thereafter, raised by Sir Robert Throckmorton, and his household.
He was born under the Tudor monarchs, but lived into the early part of the reign of England's first Stuart king ~ James I ~ dying in 1605.
Tresham was a politician. He was well-educated and he moved in elevated circles. He was also a substantial land-owner, having inherited large Northamptonshire estates ~ Rushton and Lyvedon ~ at the age of 15, from his Grandfather, Thomas Tresham I, who had flourished under Catholic Queen Mary.
The younger Tresham seems to have had an interest in ~ and a flair for ~ architectural design, although he did employ architects to design his buildings. Regarding Sir Thomas, the 'British History Online' site quotes Thomas Fuller, who noted in his 'Worthies': 'hard to say whether greater his delight or skill in building, though more forward in beginning than fortunate in finishing his fabricks'.
It is very important to remember that very few people, in 16th century England, had the wherewithal to build themselves a stone folly, in the grounds of a large mansion.
And, of course, very few 16th century Englishmen had the title 'Sir'. Catholic Tresham was knighted, by Protestant Queen Elizabeth, at Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, in 1575. However, he lost favour, when it became apparent that he was not willing to accept the Elizabethan church settlement.
Tresham was a Roman Catholic, in a Protestant country, with a Protestant monarch, at a time when politics and religion were, to a huge extent, one and the same ~ a potentially dangerous situation to be in.
As a Recusant Catholic, living in the reign of Protestant Queen Elizabeth, Tresham had to pay huge amounts in fines and was even imprisoned ~ effectively held as a hostage ~ for a total of 15 years (during which time, he planned his triangular lodge). This left him with large debts. His fines, between 1581 and 1605, amounted to almost £8,000. At his death, he owed £11,000.
Tresham's wife ~ the lady, who affectionately called him 'Tres' ~ was Muriel, nee Throckmorton, of Coughton Court in Warwickshire, a member of the well-known Catholic Throckmorton family, who had taken Tresham in, as a parent-less infant. Tresham and Muriel married in 1566 and had several children.
It is believed that, as an architect and a Catholic, Tresham's input into the design of the 'Triangular Lodge' was high.
He also designed other properties, including the unfinished, but fascinating, cruciform Lyvedon New Bield ~ and he was responsible for the initial stages of Rothwell's cruciform 'Market house'.
Another Sir Thomas Tresham ~ An Ancestor
Another Sir Thomas Tresham, who lived in the 15th century, was the son of Sir William Tresham and Isabel de Vaux.
A man of high status, he was both a soldier and a politician, who moved in high circles. He actually became ‘Speaker of the House of Commons’, was given various other important appointments, and represented Northamptonshire in Parliament in 1467.
However, he became embroiled in plots, which resulted in him being imprisoned in the Tower of London, until 1470, when Henry VI regained his throne.
But events went against him, again and, on 6th May, 1471, he was executed ~ leaving issue, including a son named John.
Rushton Hall, Northants ~ From the Front
Sir Thomas Tresham I ~ Grandfather of 'Tres'
Sir Thomas Tresham I was the eldest son of John Tresham of Rushton, and Elizabeth, nee Harrington. He was the grandfather of 'Tres' ~ and it was from him that young Tres inherited his landed estates. He was a man of high status!
Among Thomas senior's various titles were ‘High Sheriff of Northamptonshire’, ‘MP for Northamptonshire' and 'Grand Prior of England in the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem'. He was on various commissions of enquiry and even went to Calais to receive Anne of Cleves (Henry VIII's 4th wife), in 1539.
As well as his estates in Northamptonshire ~ Rushton and Lyveden ~ he also held land in Dorset. In 1540 he was granted a licence to ‘impark’ his Lyveden estate.
Having proclaimed Mary Tudor queen in Northamptonshire, he was with her on her entry into the capital ~ London. When they arrived, in 1553, they were met by, amongst others, a young schoolboy of Christ's Hospital ~ thirteen-year-old Edmund Campion. He had been chosen, as best scholar, to give the Latin speech of welcome to Queen Mary.
Tresham had a seat in the House of Lords and he sent a proxy to the first parliament of Elizabeth Tudor, after she became queen.
He died on 8th March, 1559, and was buried at Rushton ~ at Rushton Church.
He married twice. His first wife gave him five children: George, William, Isabel, Mary and John. His second wife died without issue.
Rushton Hall, Northants ~ From the Side
Henry VII, Reformation + Rebellion
Background to Tresham's Enigmatic Structures: Christianity in 16th Century England ~ Tudor England
To understand Tresham and his religious architecture, it is necessary to understand a little about the relevant period in England's religious history.
Christianity was the official religion of 16th century England, but the version of Christianity that one chose could be a matter of life and death. Religion and politics could not be separated at that time ~ they were totally entwined together.
England lurched back and forth between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism during this period ~ and the people had to move with the times, or risk bring burned at the stake!
England had long been a Roman Catholic country. The 'Protestant' movement, generally, was the result of discontent with the excesses of Roman Catholicism. This resulted in 'The Reformation', which is generally dated to 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, criticising Church corruption, to a church door in Wittenburg.
But, for Henry VIII, in England, it seems to have been a more personal matter. For a number of reasons, Henry VIII was unhappy with the power that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church held in his England.
Henry VIII, as king, wanted more control in his own country; he particularly wanted control of the huge amounts of wealth owned and controlled by the Catholic church ~ and he wanted to divorce his wife, in order to marry her maid, Nan Bullen (Anne Boleyn), the young woman, of whom he had become enamoured, who had 'Protestant' tendencies, and who he hoped could provide him with a legitimate son ~ a Tudor heir to the throne.
Queen Katherine, King Henry, Queen Anne
A Tudor Heir
Henry's existing wife was Katherine of Aragon ~ daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the 'Catholic Monarchs' of 'The Spains'. His new love would become known as Queen Anne Boleyn ~ 'Anne of the thousands days'.
Katherine had already borne Henry a daughter ~ Mary. Anne would bear him a second daughter ~ Elizabeth. After divorcing his first wife, Henry would go on to have his second wife beheaded, before marrying the devoutly Catholic Jane Seymour, who would provide him with the son he so desired ~ Edward ~ but who would die soon afterwards. Henry would go on to have three more wives, but no more legitimate children.
Although Henry rebelled against Pope and Church, it is believed that he still considered himself to be both Catholic and Christian throughout his life ~ but he had, most certainly, protested!
What about Edward, Henry's only living legitimate son ~ the child of Catholic Jane Seymour?
He, too, was a convinced Protestant.
And the eldest child, Mary?
It is not surprising that Mary Tudor, the daughter of staunchly Catholic Katherine of Aragon, should, herself, be staunchly Catholic.
What faith did Elizabeth choose?
And it is also unsurprising that Elizabeth Tudor, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, with the Protestant tendencies, should, herself, be Protestant ~ although it appears that she had Catholic tendencies and was not, at least at the beginning of her reign, a dedicated Protestant.
When Elizabeth died, last of the Tudors, she was followed to the throne by a Stuart, her cousin, James VI of Scotland ~ now to be James I of England.
Henry VIII to James I
Tudor Monarchs and their Reigns:
Henry VII ~ 1485 - 1509
Henry VIII ~ 1509 - 1547
Edward VI ~ 1547 - 1553
Mary I ~ 1553 - 1558
Elizabeth I 1558 - 1603
The First Stuart King of England:
James I (James VI of Scotland) ~ 1603 - 1625
Prince Arthur Tudor, Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII
Religious Culture of England
Catholic ~ Protestant ~ / ~ Protestant ~ Catholic
Until the Henry-Katherine-Anne 'divorce' crisis, which had its roots in the mid 1520s and came to a head in the early 1530s, England had long been unquestionably Roman Catholic.
It was in 1527 that Henry requested an annulment of his marriage, from the pope ~ the grounds being that Katherine had already been betrothed to his brother, so their marriage was incestuous and not legal.
Katherine was not happy about this. She had many supporters and the Pope refused. It was the Archbishop of Canterbury who, in late 1522, declared Henry's first marriage invalid, so that he could marry Anne in January 1523.
After the divorce, Henry VIII was excommunicated and he dissolved the monasteries, in order to remove them as a sign of Catholic power and also to take their riches for the royal coffers.
England was, in effect, a Protestant country from the date when Henry was legally declared Head of the Church of England. This Act of Supremacy was passed, by Parliament, in November 1534.
The country continued to be a Protestant under Henry's only legitimate son, Edward VI. Indeed, Edward ~ either personally or under the leadership of his advisers, since he was so young ~ continued to dissolve Roman Catholic aspects of society (eg schools).
Edward was young and sickly when he inherited the throne in 1547. After a reign of only six years, he died, in 1553 and, after a debacle, where the tragic Lady Jane Grey was made queen for nine days, Edward's half-sister, Mary I, became queen.
Queen Mary I
Mary and Catholicism
Related Hub - About Queen Mary
Under Queen Mary, from 1553, England was Roman Catholic again.
Mary I was known as 'Bloody Mary', because, in order to make and keep England a follower of Roman Catholicism, she shed the blood of many Protestant 'heretics'.
The first English Protestant martyr, victim of the 'Marian Persecutions', was clergyman John Rogers, who was born in Deritend, Birmingham, in around 1500, and who was burned at the stake, as a dissenter ~ a Protestant 'heretic' ~ on 4th February 1555.
The English Reformation had meant the prohibition of Catholic worship, and, when Queen Mary decreed that England was Roman Catholic, once more, there were reprisals.
Protestants were now considered to be heretics.They could flee, re-convert, or suffer the consequences of their acts ~ trial and punishment. This might result in being excommunicated and then burned alive. More than 280 people died, in this manner, under Mary. Others perished while imprisoned.
Mary died in 1558. Some would say that both she and her memory have been unfairly maligned:
"It is the tragedy of Queen Mary that today, 450 years after her death, she remains the most hated, least understood monarch in English history" ~ from the Amazon 'product description' for 'The Myth of "Bloody Mary": A Biography of Queen Mary I of England' by Linda Porter.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I and Religious Affairs
After the death of Mary I, in 1558, Elizabeth, her half-sister, became Queen of England.
Queen Elizabeth was under pressure from both Catholics and Protestants to support their cause.
In 1559, the 'Religious Settlement' made Elizabeth ~ ie not the Pope ~ 'Supreme Head of the Church', in England, but, though Protestants could now worship as they pleased, once more, Elizabeth did not prevent Catholics worshiping according to their own traditions ~ within reason.
At this stage, Roman Catholicism was tolerated, as long as it was not too obvious, as long as Catholics attended the parish church from time to time, and as long as they were loyal to Queen and Country.
The further one lived from Court, the easier it was to be openly 'Papist'.
Tolerance weakened, however, when some Catholic Earls revolted in 1569 ~ and it disappeared, completely, the following year, when a Papal Bull ~ "Regnans in Excelsis" ~ excommunicated the queen, describing her as 'a usurper', and a 'wicked' one. It also called her a 'heretic' and claimed that it was right that good Catholics should wish to 'deprive her of her throne'. Jesuit missionaries also started arriving in the country, with the aim of re-converting it to Catholicism. Plots against the queen's life began to be reported.
An Act of 1581 made it a treasonable offence to cause English subjects to abandon their allegiance to the Queen, or her Church. And 'Recusants' ~ ie those who refused to attend the Church of England ~ could be fined the, then, enormous amount of twenty pounds!
It has been claimed that, in spite of Elizabeth's reputation for religious tolerance, she was actually as 'bloody' as her sister, when it came to the execution of certain Catholics.
An Act of 1585 ordered the eviction, from England, of Jesuits and Roman Catholic priests. England had definitely reverted back to Protestantism once again.
Practicing Roman Catholics were a threat to Elizabeth. Some were loyal to her ~ as a person and a monarch ~ but others condemned her for her 'heretical' Protestant religious views, for not admitting the Pope back into English Christian life and for condemning their own practices.
Being loyal to an external figure ~ the Pope ~ and belonging to an out-lawed religion, resulted in accusations of Treason. Some may have had grounds, but others may have been groundless.
Queen Mary had had certain Protestants burned at the stake, as heretics; Queen Elizabeth had certain Catholics hanged, drawn and quartered, as traitors ~ but, according to tradition, 'Good Queen Bess' was not as keen to condemn as was her sister, 'Bloody Mary'.
When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, it was the end of the Welsh Tudor dynasty
James I (+ VI)
James I (James VI Scotland)
When the Tudor dynasty ended ~ with Queen Elizabeth I's death in 1603 ~ it was replaced with the Scottish Stuart dynasty.
King James VI of Scotland, became King James I of England. This is the son of Mary Queen of Scots. This is the 'King James' of Biblical fame. It is also the King James, whom Roman Catholic plotters attempted to assassinate, on 5th November 1605, by blowing up Parliament. 'Gunpowder Treason and Plot' was a movement based in the English Midlands.
Burned at the Stake
Hanged, drawn and quartered - From Wikipedia
The usual manner of execution by being 'hanged, drawn and quartered' was as follows:
After being dragged through the streets, by horse ~ perhaps on a wooden hurdle ~ to the place of public execution, the convicted man would be hanged.
But he would not be hanged unto the death! No, he would not be allowed the mercy of death.
Having suffered enough to get very close to death, the man would be taken down , but he would still not be allowed any mercy.
While alive and conscious, he would be 'emasculated'.
Then he would be 'disembowelled'.
Finally he would be beheaded!
Well, not quite finally ~ though he was definitely dead by now.
His body would then be quartered ~ cut, or torn, into four.
His head might then be paraded on a pole for all to see.
According to Wikipedia:
'For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burnt at the stake.'
Hanged, Drawn, Quartered
Catholic; Protestant; Catholic; Protestant: Fear, Belief, Danger and Confusion
It was against this complex, confusing, and sometimes terrifying, religious ~ actually, politico-religious ~ backdrop, that Christians, of different persuasions, attempted to follow their religion, according to their wishes and their consciences ~ and in line with the teachings of their clerical leaders, and what they believed that God required of them.
People ~ believers of different persuasions ~ had to be very careful.
Catholics, like the Treshams, might flourish and prosper under a Catholic monarch, but would have to worship with very great restraint, under a Protestant monarch, if they wished to retain their religious beliefs and their lives.
Queen Elizabeth, no matter how tolerant she might wish to be, could not appear to be weak and could not allow potential traitors to thrive.
Triangular Lodge - Windows
The Triangular Lodge
Rushton Triangular Lodge was built between 1593 and 1597 ~ thus, it was Elizabethan.
Although it is often termed a 'folly', it was, in fact, actually lived in. It was the warrener's lodge. (As the name suggests, this was the rabbit keeper.)
It is three-sided, built on a triangular base (equilateral) with three floors. It has three windows per floor, per side. Each wall measures 33 feet. The windows are made up of triangles and crosses. The roofline of each side has three triangular gables. This building appears to be totally dedicated to the number three.
There are Latin texts all around the walls ~ 33 letters per side. There are three gargoyles per wall, and a central chimney that is also triangular in shape. The rooms, however, are not triangular, but hexagonal.
At the entrance is an inscription: ‘Tres Testimonium Dant’. This has been translated as: ‘There are three that give witness’. This is a Biblical quote from the gospel of Saint John.
But why triangles and trefoils and threes?
If Tresham wanted to declare his Christian beliefs to the world, then why not a Christian cross?
As already noted, Tresham was not just a Christian, he was a Roman Catholic Christian, at a time when the difference between Catholic Christianity and Protestant Christianity was considered to be huge. He was not just declaring his Christian beliefs, but also his adherance to the Catholic faith.
Plus, it was a play on his name ~ 'Tres' ~ 'three'.
And a reminder that he had three sons and six daughters ~ 3 + 3 + 3.
But did the cryptic emblems have other meanings? Did the building contain other mysterious references? Was there a connection to the martyr, Edmund Campion??
Was it 'protest architecture'?
Here is a quote, from the 'introduction' of: 'Catholic Culture in Early Modern England' ~ by Ronald Corthell and Frances E. Dolan:
'... Sir Thomas Tresham's Triangular Lodge, which Davidson describes as a kind of protest building whose nearly invisible placement behind Tresham's house at Rushton itself evokes a semi hidden recusant position ...'
'Davidson' is Peter Davidson, the author of Chapter 1: 'Recusant Catholic Spaces in Early Modern England'.
Why not crosses to represent his Christian beliefs?
As well as his triangular 'folly', Tresham also designed a cruciform building nearby!
This was 'Lyveden New Bield' ~ but, because Tresham died, it was never completed.
Plus there was another of his cruciform buildings. This was at nearby Rothwell ~ the 'Market House'.
Three Who Bear Witness
'Three That Testify'
Tresham built his folly, with its quote from St John's gospel, before either of the following translations had been started:
1 John 5:6-9 (New International Version, ©2011)
"This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son."
1 John 5:6-9 (King James Version ~ 1611)
"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son."
Rushton Triangular Lodge by Chris Downer
Rushton Triangular Lodge By SiGarb
Rushton Triangular Lodge By Robert Kilpin
Sir Edmund Campion
Sir Thomas Tresham, Sir Edmund Campion, The Triangular Lodge + Other Symbolic Structures
According to the cover of the book; 'Edmund Campion: Memory and Transcription', by Gerard Kilroy, published in 2005:
'Sir Thomas Tresham is shown as expressing his devotion to Campion both in his coded buildings and in a previously unpublished manuscript, Bodleian MS Eng. th. b. 1 - 2, whose theological and cultural riches are here fully explored.'
Campion (born 1540) was the brilliant young student, who had greeted Queen Mary, when she entered London, with Sir Thomas Tresham I.
Although he had become an Anglican deacon, in 1564, he later joined the Jesuits and he was ordained in 1578.
His activities ~ including Jesuit missionary work in England ~ made him a wanted man.
Campion was captured, imprisoned in the tower, and, after being induced, in vain, to give up his Catholic faith ~ even by Queen Elizabeth, herself, who had been impressed by his abilities ~ he was tortured and then hanged, drawn and quartered, as a traitor, in 1581.
In 1970, he was canonized.
It appears that Tresham was inspired by this charismatic cleric, who was dead by the age of 41.
Perhaps Gerard Gilroy is correct in stating ~ after studying much documentation ~ that Tresham's religiously symbolic buildings were, in part, an expression of 'his devotion to Campion'.
Was the Triangular Lodge, with its mysterious 'emblems and devices', in part, a cryptic monument to this Catholic martyr ~ Sir Edmund Campion?!
It is possible.
Sir Edmund Campion was five years older than Sir Thomas Tresham ~ they were both young Catholic men, coming to terms with living under a Protestant monarch, in a Protestant England. Tresham's grandfather had met Campion, when he was a young London schoolboy, welcoming Catholic Queen Mary. The two men certainly had links.
Kilroy's book may tell us more.
'Devices and Emblems' - Excerpt, Mentioning Sir Thomas Tresham, from: 'Edmund Campion: Memory And Transcription' - by Gerard Kilroy
Rushton Triangular Lodge by Chris Downer
Lyveden New Bield
Lyveden New Bield
The Cruciform Buildings: 'Lyveden New Bield' (Or 'New Build')
Lyveden was one of the estates that 'Tres' Tresham inherited from his grandfather ~ the other being 'Rushton'. The latter was Tresham's principal estate.
It was on the Lyveden Estate that he had another of his religious designs sited ~ this was where his cruciform building was erected ~ though never completed. It was probably built around the time of Sir Thomas's death ~ perhaps 1604-5. Evidence of gardens has been discovered.
On the estate was Lyveden House, or Hall. Once the 'New Build' came into being, this would have been known as 'Lyveden Old Bield' ~ the one-time grand main house on this estate. It is possible that the 'New Bield' may have been intended as a 'secret house' ~ one used while the main building was being thoroughly cleaned.
Little remains of the old building ~ just one wing. The staircase is now in America and the gatehouse is at Fermyn Woods Hall.
The structure of the 'New Bield' is symmetrical, with foundations based on the shape of a Greek cross, with four arms of equal length.
One can see, from photographs, that the property has a raised basement ~ plus it has two further floors, making three 'floors' in all. Each floor has three rooms. Whether or not this refers back to the symbolism of 'three', I do not know.
There are religious friezes on the outside of the building and some of the symbolism from the Triangular Lodge can also be found here, on the 'metopes'. One such motif is the "IHS" christogram.
Lyveden New Bield is now under the care of 'The National Trust' and the gardens have been registered as 'grade 1' by English heritage.
On their website, The National Trust describes Lyveden's 'Elizabethan garden', with its labyrinth, terraces and moats, as well as 'one of the fairest orchards in England ', re-created ~ as designed by Tresham.
The Cruciform 'Lyveden New Bield' - Northants.
The Market House in Rothwell from the High Street, 2007
The Cruciform Buildings: Rothwell Market House
According to Wikipedia, 'The Market House' at Rushton was designed for Sir Thomas Tresham, by William Grumbold, in about 1577.
Though Tresham did utilise the talents of architects, his own stamp was usually seen on 'his' buildings and the cruciform shape of 'The Market House' indicates that he was involved with this structure, and that it was dedicated to his Christian beliefs.
Rothwell's website states that: 'Tresham gifted the Market House to the town, of which he was Lord of the Manor', but 'it would be 300 years before it was finished by local architect J A Gotch'.
This site also claims that Tresham was 'something of an eccentric' and notes that Sir Thomas was 'known as "Thomas the Builder" because of his passion for strange and unusual buildings'.
Coughton Court - Its Owner, Robert Throckmorton, Became Young Tresham's Guardian, When He Was A Three Year Old Orphan
Coughton Court ~ Home of Tresham's Wife and of His Guardian
Coughton Court, in Warwickshire, remains, to this day, the home of the Catholic Throckmorton family. Priest holes are hidden within its architecture.
Sir Thomas Tresham was taken in, by Robert Throckmorton, when he was a three-year-old orphan. Later, he would marry Robert's daughter, Muriel.
There are two churches on this property. The first would, originally, have been Roman Catholic, but was taken over by the Church of England, when Roman Catholicism was outlawed and no longer the state church of England. It is still an Anglican Church. Once it became legal to do so, a new Roman Catholic Church was built nearby, on the property.
Sir Thomas II's Son and Heir ~ The Infamous Francis Tresham
Francis Tresham was one of Thomas Tresham II's sons ~ his eldest and his heir.
Francis outlived his father by only a few months ~ dying a prisoner, as a result of his being involved in 'The Gunpowder Plot' ~ along with some cousins, friends and other angry Catholic young men.
As a result of his treason, his estates were forfeited to the crown.
Rushton Hall became the home of the Cockayne family. Francis Tresham's brother, Lewis, did manage to buy back Lyveden Old Bield, in which he lived with his family.
Coughton Court is one place where the traitorous conspirators are known to have met up.
There was a rumour about the Triangular Lodge that has been noted on the 'Stately Homes of England' site:
'There is a curious building in the grounds of Rushton, about half a mile from the Hall, called the Triangular Lodge, built by Sir Thomas Tresham in 1595.
"It is very rich in architectural beauty, and is supposed to have been one of the places of meeting for the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot'.
My hub on the 'Gunpowder Plot':
One of my sources:
Sir Thomas Tresham's Intriguing Triangular Lodge
What Is Sir Thomas Tresham's Intriguing Triangular Lodge ?
The Triangular Lodge, at Rushton, in Northamptonshire, is a sixteenth century stone folly, which represents the Roman Catholic faith of its designer, Sir Thomas Tresham II.
But it is also much, much more than that.
It is a representation, in stone, of a tumultuous period in the political and religious history of England.
Triangular Lodge Chimneys - Samuel Buck. 1730
Triangular Lodge: South-East Front
Triangular Lodge: North Front
Triangular Lodge: South-West Front
Chimney South-East Side
Chimney South-West Side
Rushton Triangular Lodge Handbook - Gyles Isham
If you want to know more about Sir Gyles and the Isham family:
Gyles Isham (1903–1976) Actor
Sir Gyles Isham, Bt: ~ 'A NORTHAMPTONSHIRE ARTIST'
Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire
Lamport Hall and Gardens
Sir Justinian Isham, fifth Baronet of Lamport, co. Northampton, (born 1687 ; died 1737) compiled a very valuable book of notes relating to the history and genealogy of the county. A Tresham marriage is noted.
Victoria County History ~ A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4
(Both 'Isham' and 'Tresham' are mentioned)
Edit - September 2011: Sir Gyles Isham Explains the Symbolism
Sir Gyles Isham is the author of 'Sir Thomas Tresham and His Buildings', which appeared in a 1966 publication of the 'Reports and Papers of the Northamptonshire Antiquarian Society' (Volume LXV ~ Part II).
The information within the 'Department of the Environment Official Handbook' to 'Rushton Triangular Lodge' (1970 + 1980), by Sir Gyles, is derived from that work.
Sir Gyles Isham, under the heading 'The Symbolism Explained' describes the motifs and words, which decorate the building and he goes on to explain their sacred symbolism.
I have quoted from his work, in order to clarify some aspects of Tresham's ideas, when planning his sacred triangular building.
The Main Body of the Lodge:
'Over the entrance door on the south-east front of the Lodge are the words TRES TESTIMONIUM DANT ~ There are three that bear witness taken from the first epistle of St John. This is typical of the symbolism employed throughout the building. As the Authorised Version renders the passage "... there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." This is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to which the whole building "bears witness".
'It is also a play on the name Tresham. The name was pronounced "Traysam" and usually spelt Tressam or Tresame .... so the inscription also means "I, Thomas Tresham, bear witness".
Over The Top Windows
The symbolism of 'three' is also in the very building, as well as the quotes which adorn it:
The building is .. three-sided and each has an illusion to one person of the Holy Trinity. .... the letters ... round the building over .. the top windows ... read: MENTES TUORUM VISITA ~ Visit the minds of thy people. This ... is the second line of the Latin hymn to the Holy Ghost, the Veni Creator.
On The Central Gables
'The words on the central gables of each face read ..: RESPICITE NON MIHI SOLI LABORAVI ~ consider that I laboured not for myself. This is from Ecclesiastes XXXIII v18 - clearly an illusion to the builder, who intended his work to teach others ...'
The South-East Side
Returning to the south-east side, Isham notes these words:
'.... APERIATUR TERRA ET GERMINET SALVATOREM ~ Let the earth open and bring forth a saviour. This is from Isaiah, XLV v8. The full verse reads "Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant Justum; aeriatur terra et germinet Salavatorem, et justitia, oriatur simul; ego Dominus creavi eum". (Drop down ye heavens from above and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together: I the Lord hath created it. (Authorised Version: the Latin Vulgate implies a Saviour, rather than just salvation).
The motifs on this side include: 'the seven-branched candlestick, the seven eyes of God', which indicate 'the first person of the Trinity, God the Father'.
The North Side
'The north face bears the legend on the entablature: QUIS SEPARABIT NOS A CHARITATE CHRISTI ~ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? This is from St Paul's epistle to the Romans VIII v35. The rest of the verse is particularly applicable to Thomas Tresham .... "tribulatio? an angustia? an fames? an nuditas? an periculum? an persecutio? an gladius?" Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?) Thomas Tresham knew almost as much about such things as Paul himself ... [the chapter concludes] ... "nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".'
The motifs on this side include: 'Hen and chickens and the Pelican in her piety ['an old Christian idea'] .. expressive of the second person of the Trinity, God the Son.'
The South-West Side
Here, 'the legend reads: CONSIDERAVI OPERA TUA DOMINE ET EXPAVI ~ I have considered thy words, O Lord, and been afraid. This is an expansion of Habakkuk III v2. Domine audivi auditionem tuam et timui. The words consideravi, etc, follow timui in the Tract from the Mass of Good Friday ...'
The motifs on this side include: 'the dove upon a serpent coiled about the globe, a hand issuing from a sun (Pentecostal fire)' ... 'suggestive of the third person of the Trinity.'
The Triangular Chimney
Motifs: The chimney is 'covered with Tresham trefoils ~ the Trinity and the builder again''.
Chimney South-East Side
Legend: 'ESTO MIHI .. a contraction of Psalm XXX v4. - ESTO MIHI IN DEUM PROTECTOREM, ET IN LOCUM REFUGII, UT SALUM ME FACIAS. Authorised Version ... "Be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me." Vulgate .. Knox Bibles .. "Be though my God and protector, my stronghold of defence, to save me from peril ... " It is the Introit for Quinquagesima Sunday. ... Tresham wanted to incorporate the symbolism of the Mass, for which he had suffered so much ...'
Emblems: '... the sacred monogram IHS with a cross above, and the three nails used on the cross below, enclosed in an octogon, signifying regeneration'.
Chimney North Side
Legend: 'ECCE, the first word of the sentence the priest speaks when giving Mass to the faithful: "Ecce agnus dei. ecce qui tollis peccata mundi" ("Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world").
Emblem: 'Lamb of God in a square (symbolising the four evangelists)'
Chimney South-West Side
Legend: ' ... SALUS salvation .. obvious allusion to the words of the priest at Mass, just after he has eaten the Host and before he drinks from the chalice. ....'
Emblem: '.. a Tau (T) cross with a chalice, enclosed in a pentagon, which usualy signifies salvation. The Tau cross is mentioned in the inscription ... in the oratory at Rushton Hall: ECCE SALUTIFERUM SIGNUM THAU NOBILE LIGNUM - Behold the salvation-bearing symbol THAU; the noble Tree of Life. The Greek T or Tau also stands .. for Tresham.
'Thus, we have on the chimney, a complete homily on the Mass ....'
'Mr Gotch noted "the chimney rises mysteriously from the middle of the building ...." ... e now know .. that a cross beam of timber was specially made to carry the chimney... The mystery of the chimney was intentional. It was symbolic of the Holy Mystery of the Mass.
'... the initial lettes incised on the chimney breast above the pipes which drain the roof (.. with nine gargoyles) and on shields below each pipe on the soffit, give the sentece: SANCTUS SANCTUS SANCTUS DOMINUS DEUS SABAOTH QUI ERAT ET QUI EST QUI VENTURUS EST ' Holy Holy Holy Lord God of Sabaoth which was and is and is to come ... from Revelation, or Apocalypse, of St John IV v8 only, in the Bible,God is described as "omnipotens" not "Sabaoth". The reason is clear. Tresham was thinking of the end of the Preface, just before the Canon of the Mass begins, where the word is "Sabaoth".
More ~ Numbers, Etc
There is more symbolism than has been described here, including certain numbers. Some may be dates.
Rushton Hall and Triangular Lodge, Northants
'Lilliput Lane' Has Produced a 'Triangular Lodge'
Related Hub by Trish_M:
- Remember Remember the Fifth of November' ~ Guy Fawkes and Gunpowder Plot (And Bonfire and Fireworks!
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on May 11, 2011:
Glad you enjoyed it ~ and thank you for your very encouraging words!
RTalloni on May 10, 2011:
Wow, that was quite the read, and a very interesting one. Appreciate the sources below, as well. I think I'll be revisiting this. Voted up and useful.
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on April 10, 2011:
Hello Stessily :)
Thank you for your interesting remarks.
I have just read your hub on Ferrar ~ fascinating stuff!
If I remember correctly, some of Lyveden New Bield's symbolism included the cross, the number 3, the number 7 and certain words and symbols.
It's been a while since I visited these buildings :)
stessily on April 10, 2011:
Trish: I was reminded of these events while I was researching Nicholas Ferrar, a Protestant contemporary of Thomas Tresham, last year. It's great that you've gathered together those interesting people and events, and all the images are greatly appreciated. The architectural symbolism of Triangular Lodge is fascinating. I wonder what Thomas Tresham had in mind for the completed 'Lyveden New Bield.' Voted up + useful + awesome.
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on April 09, 2011:
Hello Genna :)
Thank you very much.
It's a fascinating building, from a fascinating period of history :)
Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 09, 2011:
Trish, this hub took my breath away...amazing, with depth and extraordinary comprehension. Bravo! Up and awesome.
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on March 22, 2011:
Thank you, Garnet Bird.
Glad you enjoyed it :)
Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on March 22, 2011:
Fascinating--I have always been interested in UK History, esp. the Tudor Era. Very detailed and professional Hub!
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on March 22, 2011:
Hi Lou :)
Yes, it's a strange building!
I visited it as part of a History field trip, when I was at University, back in the 80's. I might go back this summer :)
lou16 on March 22, 2011:
Very interesting read and another place for me to visit if I ever get back to the UK.
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on March 21, 2011:
Thank you, Brian :)
Brian Stephens from Castelnaudary, France on March 21, 2011:
Excellent hub, very comprehensive. Nice work.
Tricia Mason (author) from The English Midlands on March 21, 2011:
Thank you, Diogenese :)
diogenese on March 21, 2011:
Another of your excellent articles. I like the titillating title, Trish! Bob