Wilton Housedetails

[Picture: Wilton House]
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Wilton House

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It was hard to do justice to the delicate colours of this 8-colour printed plate of Wilton House in Wiltshire.


Wilton House is an imposing structure, and the grounds immediately adjoin the town of Wilton, which is pleasantly situated on the junction of the rivers Nadder and Wiley, from the latter of which it derives its name. It was rebuilt, as to its present front, by Inigo Jones, a part of the previous mansion having been destroyed by fire in 1648.

In the year 773 an abbey was founded here by Weolkstan, Earl of Ellandum.

In 830 it was completed, when Egbert, King of England, converted it into a priory for thirteen nuns, and his sister Aburga was made prioress.

In the reign of Alfred the Great the Priory was demolished by the Danes, but on their being expelled from the country he founded in its stead a monastery on the site where his palace had stood, and added a lady abbess and twelve nuns to its original foundation.

In the reign of Edgar, a lady named Walfrith being the abbess, it was again destroyed by Swein, in revenge for a massacre of the Danes.

It was afterwards restored, but in Ethelred’s reign the Danes again invaded the country, and he was succeeded on the throne by a Danish monarch, followed by three others of that race.

On the restoration of the Saxon kings the monastery was rebuilt by Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor. It was now constructed of stone, having previously been of wood.

In the year 1066 William the Conqueror obtained possession of the throne, and, as recorded in Domesday Book, doubled the value of the house, the abbess at that time being Christiana, sister of Edgar Atheling, and here she educated Matilda, her niece, who afterwards became wife of Henry Beauclerc.

During the civil wars that followed, Wilton met with its share of disaster.

In the year 1143 King Stephen arrived here with his brother, the Bishop of Winchester, and a large force, and began to convert the monastery into a place of military defence, but he was attacked in it by the Earl of Gloucester, and fled, when it again was sacked. It was, however, afterwards restored.

In the reign of Edward the First, Juliana Gilford being the abbess, a knight named Osborn Gifford carried off two of the nuns, with, as is hinted, their own assent.

In the reign of Henry the Eighth the monastery shared in the general dissolution of those institutions, the abbess being Cecilia Bodenham, and was shortly afterwards

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