The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, and Middlesex in the Spring of 1840

Harlaxton history

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Antiquarians have mostly united in the notion that it is one of the few remaining early houses of importance that were built apart from towns: they assign it to the period of Richard II., judging from the tracery and forms of the windows, &c.; and this conjecture is in some degree confirmed by some ancient monuments in the church, of a style coeval with that reign. The grandfather of the present proprietor married the heiress of a branch of the noble family of De Ligne, subsequently to its alliance with that of the Dukes d'Arenberg. Our readers will remember that it was the celebrated Prince de Ligne, chief of this family, who was so conspicuous in the leading royal courts of Europe, at the close of the last century, from his sparkling wit and talents; and that he, owing to his extensive travels, was the first who was enabled to publish a general view of the style, feeling, and taste of gardens throughout Europe, and who created those of his own family seat at Bel£il, in Hainault, which are mentioned in the poem of Les Jardins by De Lille: - "Bel£il tout a la fois magnifique et champetre." Harlaxton was purchased at the end of the fifteenth century by a younger branch of this family, who, having embraced the reformed religion, came to England to avoid the persecutions of the Duke of Alva, in the time of Philip of Spain. They brought with them great wealth, and made those alterations in the mansion-house which are of the period of James I., and contribute so much to give it the present striking appearance. The family portraits, and the arms of the family in stained glass, with a pedigree written in the French language of the day, are still preserved in the house. It is an interesting family record, showing how many of this house have been knights of the Golden Fleece, and borne many important charges of government, both civil and military, during so long a period in the annals of the Low Countries and the empire.