Banner of Broughton Tower

The Banner of Broughton Tower

The knight looked out from Broughton Tower;
The stars hung high o'er Broughton Town;
"There should be tidings by this hour,
From Fouldrey Pile or Urswick Down!"

Far out the Duddon roll'd its tide
Beneath; and on the verge afar,
The Warder through the night descried
The beacon, like a rising star.

It told that Fouldrey by the sea
Was signall'd from the ships that bore,
With Swart's Burgundian chivalry,
The false King from the Irish shore.

And Lincoln's Earl, and Broughton's Knight,
And brave Lord Lovel, wait the sign
To march their hosts to Urswick's height,
To hail him King, of Edward's line.

Brave men as ever swerv'd aside!
But faithful to their ancient fame,
The white Rose wooed them in her pride
Once more; and foremost forth they came.

The Knight looked out beneath his hand;
The Warder pointed to the glow;
"Now droop my banner, that my band
May each embrace it! then we'll go.

"And if we fall, as fall we may,
Thus resolute the wronged to raise,
The banner that we bear to-day,
Shall be our monument and praise!"

One look into his lady's bower;
One step into his ancient hall;
And then adieu to Broughton Tower,
Till blooms the white Rose over all!

High o'er the surge of many a fight,
That banner, for the Rose, had led
The liegemen of the Broughton knight
To victory's smiles, or glory's bed.

And 'twas a glorious sight to see
That break of day, from tower and town,
Pour forth his martial tenantry,
To swell the array on Urswick Down:

To see the glancing pennons wave
Above them, and the banner borne
All joyously by warriors, brave
As ever hailed a battle morn.

And 'twas a stirring sound to hear,
Uprolling from the camp,—the drum,
The music, and the martial cheer,
That told the chiefs, "We come, we come!"

Then in that sunny time of June,
When green leaves burdened every spray,
With all the merry birds in tune,
They marched upon their southward way.

And, as through channel'd sands afar
The tides with steady onward force
Push inland, roll'd their wave of war
To Trent, its unresisted course.

And spreading wide its crest where Stoke
O'erlook'd the Royal lines below,
Spent its long gathering strength, and broke,
And plung'd in fury on the foe.

For three long hours that summer morn
King Henry by his standard rode,
Through onset and repulse upborne,
A tower of strength where'er it glowed.

For three long hours the fated band
Of chiefs, that summer morning waged
A desperate battle, hand to hand,
Where'er the thickest carnage raged,

Till midst four thousand liegemen slain,
The flower of that misguided host,
Borne down upon the fatal plain,
Fame, honour, life, and cause were lost.

Turn ye, who high in hall and tower
Sit waiting for your lords, and burn
To wrest the tidings of that hour
From lips that never may return:

Turn inwards from the news that flies
Through England's summer groves, and close
The circlets of your asking eyes
Against the coming cloud of woes!

Wild rumour, like the wind that wings,
None knows or how or whence, its way,
Storm-like on Broughton's turret rings
The dire disaster of that day.

Storm-like through his dislorded halls
And farmsteads lone, the rumour breaks;
And far by Witherslack's grey walls,
And hamlet cots, despair awakes.

And all old things meet shock and change,
Since Broughton, down-borne in his pride
On that red field, no more shall range
By Duddon's rocks, or Winster's side.

And while the hills around rejoiced,
And in the triumph of their King
Old strains of peace sang trumpet-voiced,
And bade the landscapes smile and sing;

Far stretching o'er the land, his sign
The King from Broughton's charters tore;
And the old honours of his line
In his old tower were known no more.

His halls, his manors, his fair lands,
Pass'd from his name; round all he'd loved,
And all that loved him, power's dread hands
In shadow through the noontide moved:

E'en to those cottage homes apart,
His poor men's huts by lonely ways—
To crush from out the humblest heart
Each pulse that dared to throb his praise!

But when old feuds had all been healed,
And England's long lost smiling years
Returned, and tales of Stoke's red field
Fair eyes had ceased to flood with tears;

'Twas whispered 'mid the fields and farms,
That once were Broughton's free domain,—
His banner, saved from strife of arms,
Was somewhere 'mid those homes again.

That o'er the hills afar, where lies
Lone Witherslack by moorland roads,
His own old liegemen true the prize
Held fast within their safe abodes.

Thrice honour'd in that matchless zeal
To brave proscription, death and shame;
Thus rescued by their hearths to feel
The symbol of his ancient fame!

So for old faithfulness renowned,
The tenants of that knightly race
Their age-long acts of service crowned
With that last deed of loyal grace.

Last? Nay! for on one Sabbath morn,
An old man, blanch'd by years and cares,
Gave up his spirit, tired and worn,
Amidst those humble liegemen's prayers.

Gave up a long secreted life
'Mid hinds and herds, by peasant maids
Nurtured and soothed, while shadows rife
With death's stern edicts, stalked the glades.

He pass'd while Cartmel's monks sang dole,
As for a brave man gone to rest;
And men sighed, "Glory to his soul!"
And wrapt the banner round his breast:

And placed the tassell'd bridle reins
And spurs that, by his lattice, led
His thoughts so oft to far off plains,
Beside him in his narrow bed:

And borne on high their arms above,
As hinds are borne to churchyard cells,
With kindly speech of truth and love,
Mix'd with the sound of mournful bells,

They laid him in a tomb, engraved
With no memorial, date, or name;
But one dear relic round him, saved
To whisper in the earth his fame.

And when that age had all gone down
To mingle with its native dust,
And time his deeds had overgrown,
His banner yielded up its trust;

And told from one low chancel's shade
Where good men sang on holy days—
"Here Broughton's Knight in earth was laid.
Peace! To his tenants, endless praise!"

Notes to "the Banner of Broughton Tower."

Broughton Tower, the ancient part of which is all that remains of the residence of the unfortunate Sir Thomas Broughton, stands a little to the eastward of the town of that name, upon the neck of a wooded spur of land, which projects from the high ground above the houses towards the river Duddon, about a mile distant. The towered portion, as it rises from the wood, has much of the appearance of a church; but is in reality part of the ancient building, now connected with a modern mansion. It has a southern aspect, with a slope down to the river, being well sheltered in the opposite direction. "It commands an extensive view, comprising in a wonderful variety hill and dale, water, wooded grounds, and buildings; whilst fertility around is gradually diminished, being lost in the superior heights of Black Comb, in Cumberland, the high lands between Kirkby and Ulverston, and the estuary of the Duddon expanding into the sands and waters of the Irish sea."

The Broughtons were an Anglo-Saxon family of high antiquity, in whose possession the manor of Broughton had remained from time immemorial, and whose chief seat was at Broughton, until the second year of the reign of Henry the Seventh. At this period the power and interest of Sir Thomas Broughton were so considerable, that the Duchess of Burgundy, sister to the late King and the Duke of Clarence, relied on him as one of the principal confederates in the attempt to subvert the government of Henry by the pretensions of Lambert Simnel.

Ireland was zealously attached to the house of York, and held in affectionate regard the memory of the Duke of Clarence, the Earl of Warwick's father, who had been its lieutenant. No sooner, therefore, did the impostor Simnel present himself to Thomas Fitz-Gerald, Earl of Kildare, and claim his protection as the unfortunate Warwick, than that credulous nobleman paved the way for his reception, and furthered his design upon the throne, till the people in Dublin with one consent tendered their allegiance to him as the true Plantagenet. They paid the pretended Prince attendance as their sovereign, lodged him in the Castle of Dublin, crowned him with a diadem taken from a statue of the Virgin, and publicly proclaimed him King, by the appellation of Edward the Sixth.

In the year 1487 Lambert, with about two thousand Flemish troops under the command of Colonel Martin Swart, a man of noble family in Germany, an experienced and valiant soldier, whom the Duchess of Burgundy had chosen to support the pretended title of Simnel to the crown of England, and a number of Irish, conducted by Thomas Gerardine their captain from Ireland, landed in Furness at the Pile of Fouldrey. The army encamped in the neighbourhood of Ulverston, at a place now known by the name of Swart-Moor. Sir Thomas Broughton joined the rebels with a small body of English. The army, at this time about eight thousand strong, proceeded to join the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovel, and the rest of the confederates, passing on through Cartmel to Stoke field, near Newark-upon-Trent, where they met and encountered the King's forces on the 5th of June, 1487.

The day being far advanced before the King arrived at Stoke, he pitched his camp and deferred the battle till the day following. The forces of the Earl of Lincoln also encamped at a little distance from those of the King, and undismayed by the superior numbers they had to encounter, bravely entered the field the next day, and arranged themselves for battle, according to the directions of Colonel Swart and other superior officers. The charge being sounded, a desperate conflict was maintained with equal valour on both sides for three hours. The Germans were in every respect equal to the English, and none surpassed the bravery of Swart their commander. For three hours each side contended for victory, and the fate of the battle remained doubtful. The Irish soldiers, however, being badly armed, and the Germans being overpowered by numbers, the Lambertines were at length defeated, but not before their principal officers, the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovel, Sir Thomas Broughton, Colonel Swart, and Sir Thomas Gerardine captain of the Irish, and upwards of four thousand of their soldiers were slain.

Young Lambert and his tutor were both taken prisoners. The latter, being a priest, was punished with perpetual imprisonment; Simnel was too contemptible to be an object either of apprehension or resentment to Henry. He was pardoned, and made a scullion in the King's kitchen, whence he was afterwards advanced to the rank of falconer, in which employment he ended his days.

Sir Thomas Broughton is said to have fallen on the field of battle: but there remains a tradition, that he returned and lived many years amongst his tenants in Witherslack, in Westmorland; and was interred in the Chapel there; but of this nothing is known for certain at present, or whether he returned or where he died. Dr. Burn, speaking of the grant of Witherslack to Sir Thomas, on the attainder of the Harringtons in the first year of Henry's reign for siding with the house of York, and of its subsequent grant to Thomas Lord Stanley, the first Earl of Derby, on the attainder of Sir Thomas for having been concerned in this affair of Lambert Simnel, goes on to say—"And here it may not be amiss to rectify a mistake in Lord Bacon's history of that King, (Henry VII.) who saith that this Sir Thomas Broughton was slain at Stoke, near Newark, on the part of the counterfeit Plantagenet, Lambert Simnell; whereas Sir Thomas Broughton escaped from that battle hither into Witherslack, where he lived a good while incognito, amongst those who had been his tenants, who were so kind unto him as privately to keep and maintain him, and who dying amongst them was buried by them, whose grave Sir Daniel Fleming says in his time was to be seen there."

The erection of the new chapel of Witherslack by Dean Barwick, in 1664, at a considerable distance from where the ancient chapel stood, has obliterated the memory of his once well-known grave. With this unhappy gentleman the family of Broughton, which had flourished for many centuries and had contracted alliances with most of the principal families in these parts, was extinguished in Furness.

After these affairs the King had leisure to revenge himself on his enemies, and made a progress into the northern parts of England, where he gave many proofs of his rigorous disposition. A strict inquiry was made after those who had assisted or favoured the rebels, and heavy fines and even sanguinary punishments, were imposed upon the delinquents in a very arbitrary manner. The fidelity therefore of Sir Thomas Broughton's tenants to their fallen master was not without its dangers, and is a pleasing instance of attachment to the person of a leader in a rude and perilous age.

In the wars of the Roses the Broughtons had always strenuously supported the House of York. It is however remarkable that, the manor of Witherslack having been granted to Sir Thomas by Henry the Seventh in the first year of his reign, he should have joined the Pretender in arms against that monarch in the following year.

Methop and Ulva, though distinctly named in the title and description of this manor, yet make but a small part of it. They are all included within a peninsula, as it were, between Winster Beck, Bryster Moss, and Lancaster Sands.

The fate of Lord Lovel, another of the chiefs in this disastrous enterprise, is also shrouded in mystery. It has often been told that he was never seen, living or dead, after the battle.

The dead bodies of the Earl of Lincoln and most of the other principal leaders, it was said, were found where they had fallen, sword-in-hand, on the fatal field; but not that of Lord Lovel. Some assert that he was drowned when endeavouring to escape across the river Trent, the weight of his armour preventing the subsequent discovery of his body. Other reports apply to him the circumstances similar to those which have been related above as referring to Sir Thomas Broughton; namely, that he fled to the north where, under the guise of a peasant, he ended his days in peace. Lord Bacon, in his History of Henry the Seventh, says "that he lived long after in a cave or vault." And his account has been partly corroborated in modern times. William Cowper, Esquire, Clerk of the House of Commons, writing from Hertingfordbury Park in 1738, says—"In 1708, upon the occasion of new laying a chimney at Minster Lovel, there was discovered a large vault or room underground in which was the entire skeleton of a man, as having been sitting at a table which was before him, with a book, paper, pen, etc.; in another part of the room lay a cap, all much mouldered and decayed; which the family and others judged to be this Lord Lovel, whose exit has hitherto been so uncertain."

A tradition was rife in the village in the last century to the effect that, in this hiding place, which could only be opened from the exterior, the insurgent chief had confided himself to the care of a female servant, was forgotten or neglected by her, and consequently died of starvation.

The ancient Castle or Pile of Fouldrey, (formerly called Pele of Foudra, or Futher,) stands upon a small island near the southern extremity of the isle of Walney; and is said by Camden to have been built by an Abbot of Furness, in the first year of King Edward the Third (A. D. 1327). It was probably intended for an occasional retreat from hostility; a depository for the valuable articles of the Monastery of Furness; and for a fortress to protect the adjoining harbour; all which intentions its situation and structure were well calculated to answer at the time of its erection.

It seems to have been the custom in the northern parts of the kingdom, for the monasteries to have a fortress of this kind, in which they might lodge with security their treasure and records on the approach of an enemy; of this the Castle on Holy Island, in Northumberland, and Wulstey Castle, near the Abbey of Holm Cultram, in Cumberland, are examples. It has even been said that an underground communication existed between Furness Abbey and the Pele of Fouldrey.

The harbour alluded to, appears to have been of considerable importance to the shipping of that period, when the relations of Ireland with the monks had become established. In the reign of Henry the Sixth, it is mentioned as being found a convenient spot for the woollen merchants to ship their goods to Ernemouth, in Zealand, without paying the duty; and in Elizabeth's days as "the only good haven for great shippes to londe or ryde in" between Scotland and Milford Haven, in Wales.

It was apprehended that the Spanish Armada would try to effect a landing in this harbour.