The name of Richard III. will always be connected with this tower. Leland tells us that this king added a chamber story in half-timber work, and we know that he made it a royal residence, and quitted its portals to meet his doom at Bosworth Field. It was here at the end of July, 1485, learning that Henry, Earl of Richmond was lying at Harfleur, waiting for a fair wind to waft him and his 2,000 followers to the coast of England, that Richard III. sent for the great seal of the Kingdom. The full record of this transaction may find a fitting place in this paper.


Memorandum: That on the 24th day of July in the third year of the reign of King Richard the Third after the conquest, despatches of the said Lord King were published, sealed under his privy seal, addressed to the Venerable Father, John Bishop of Lincoln, Chancellor of England.

Wherein among other things was contained that the same Lord Chancellor, for certain reasons moving the same Lord King, should send to the aforesaid Lord King his Great Seal being in the custody of the aforesaid Lord Chancellor, by the faithful councillor of the said Lord King, Thomas Barowe Master of the Rolls whom the same Lord King by other despatches directed to the same Thomas appointed to receive the Seal aforesaid from the Chancellor himself, to deliver it to him.

Wherepon the same Lord Chancellor according to the mandate of the said Lord King, on Friday, that is to say, the twenty-ninth day of the said month of July, about the eighth hour, in the presence of Richard Skypton clerk, one of the Clerks of Chancery of the aforesaid Lord King, Christopher Harrington, William Nanson, Thomas Snowe, Walter Wheeler and very many others in the old Temple at London in a certain underground oratory' at that place against the chapel handed over the aforesaid

" In quodam basso Oratorio."

Seal enclosed in a certain bag of white leather and sealed with the signet of the Lord Chancellor himself having the figure of an eagle, to the aforesaid Thomas Barowe to be delivered to the said Lord King.

Which Seal indeed, sealed as is premised, then and there in the presence aforesaid, the same Thomas Barowe received from the Chancellor himself."1


Memorandum: That on the first day of August in the third year of the reign of King Richard the Third after the conquest, Thomas Barowe, Keeper of the Rolls of the Chancery of the same Lord King, came to the King himself at his town of Nottingham.

And there in his oratory below his chapel and castle of the said town, on the said first day, about the seventh hour after noon in the presence of the most Reverend Father Thomas, Archbishop of York, John Earl of Lincoln, Thomas Scrope, Lord Scrop de Upsale, and George Straunge Lord de Straunge Knights, and John Kendall Secretary of the said Lord King the same Thomas delivered the Great Seal of the Lord King to be aforesaid Lord King.

Wherepon the same Lord King for certain causes and considerations then moving him, in the presence of the said Archbishop, Earl, Thomas, George and John, handed his Seal aforesaid to the before mentioned Thomas, to Seal all kinds of Briefs and Letters Patent whatsoever, and then and there appointed the same Thomas, Keeper of the aforesaid Great Seal."3

Another interesting document,which is in the archives of the Library of St. Mark at Venice, is a letter of King Richard's dated from Nottingham Castle on "the very Ides of October 1484." It is addressed to Pope Innocent VIII. praying him to raise to the Cardinalate the Rev. Father the Lord Sherwood of Durham, Ambassador at the Court of Rome" not so much in consideration of our prayers, as of his own learning and virtues."

It was in these grounds at Castle Grove, that an underground passage or sally-port of the old castle was re-opened in 1903. This passage, from calculations under ground, appears to come out from the castle about twenty yards north of the place where the bust of Adjutant White now stands. Passing under the rock ten or twelve yards to the south of Richard's tower, and skirting the backs of the houses at the north-east corner of Castle Grove where it is blocked up, it evidently ran out into the dry ditch somewhere on the line of Lenton Road. Its re-opening revives once again the mystery of the historic Mortimer's hole, and the record of some new facts on the subject, hitherto unknown to our local historians, may help us in our attempt to solve it. The earliest account of the taking of Mortimer is to be found in an old chronicle written in French by an unknown author in the early days of the reign of Edward III., contemporary with the event.3 It was from an old English copy of this MS. written in 13804 that Deering got his well-known account which later historians all copied.

There is an account however, written about twenty years after the event, which is most interesting, as it is the chronicle of a man who was the friend of William de Montacute himself the leader of the King's party on the eventful night.

Sir Thomas Gray the writer of the "Scala-chronica"5 in which the record occurs, accompanied William de Montacute abroad in 1338 on the King's foreign expeditions, receiving from Edward III., in 1344 recognition "for his services beyond the Sea." When he wrote his chronicle some years later there is no reason to doubt that whatever he said about this notable event of the capture of Mortimer, would have been heard from Montacute's own lips, and though it leaves uncertain the question of the secret passage, it can at any rate be taken as a true picture of how the plot was conceived and carried out.

After recording how the King gave orders to the constable to leave a postern open to the park, how the band of plotters arranged to meet in a thicket in Nottingham Park, and how some of them missed their trysting place and were left behind, it goes on to say "They went forward and found the postern open as the King had commanded. They entered the castle and mounted the stairs of the second court6 without meeting anybody for it was mirk night and the followers of the gentle folk had left the castle for their lodgings."

What is here meant by the second court it seems difficult to prove. If it means that they mounted the steps of the outer court to enter the inner or first one, it follows that they must have come in by a passage on the north or north-west side and not by the well-known passage which opened from the south direct into the inner court. Moreover there would seem to be no motive in leaving a postern open to the park if the conspirators were to gain access to the castle by a passage opening from the bank of the Leen on its south side.

There has always been a mystery too, about the man who was the principal agent in bringing about the capture of Mortimer, viz: Sir William Eland the constable, or rather the deputy-constable of the castle. It has hitherto seemed an open question whether he was a willing or an unwilling actor in this drama. We know that some years afterwards, there was granted to him "and his heirs for ever," the Bailiwick of the Honour of Peverel for the yearly payment of fourteen marks,7 but some entries in the Patent Rolls show, I think, that he must have been a willing agent of King Edward's in this matter, for he received immediate recognition at the hands of his Sovereign. A week after the event, he was made governor (or constable) of the castle in place of Sir Richard de Grey, of Codenor. "Oct. 26th. 1330 grant for life to William de Eland, Kings Yeoman of the custody of Nottingham Castle and also of the bailiwick of the Honour of Peverel in the Counties of Nottingham and Derby. Mandate to Richard de Grey of Codenor to deliver to him by indenture the said castle with the armour, victuals and other things therein."8

Fourteen years later we find "February 1st. 1344 grant for life to William de Eland in recompense for the custody of the Castle of Nottingham for life which he has surrendered at the Kings request, of fifty marks out of the farm of the town of Nottingham yearly. Mandate in persuance to the bailiffs of the town."9

Another record in the Rolls for this year gives us the appointment of John Darcy as successor to William de Eland, and these two names fill up a gap in Deering's account of the governors of the castle, for in writing of the days of Edward III., he says "who was governor during this long reign I have not been able to discover."10

Leland leaves us little doubt as to which was the Mortimer's hole pointed out to him, for he mentions that it went down to the bank of the river Leen, and Speed doubtless copied him.

Although these notes leave the passage still unidentified, it is interesting to know that the mystery is far older than our own day. It existed at the time of the building of the Newcastle residence at the end of the 17th century, for we have the record of a note written by the Rev. John Lamb, schoolmaster of Southwell, born in Nottingham in 1685, in which he states "the hollow entrance on the top of the rock on the south side of the castle, is very ignorantly called by some, Mortimer's Hole. The place always showed for Mortimer's hole when I was a boy, i.e. between 1692 and 1700, was on the left side of the way to Lenton in a narrow bottom between two hilly rocks upon one of which, almost opposite to the court yard of the castle to the North there stands a poor cottage, sometime an ale house. It is a little way before the entrance into the park along the footway to Lenton."2 This would doubtless be the passage opened out in Castle Grove in 1903, and whether it was the Mortimer's hole of history we shall probably never know. But we can well understand when the Cavendish Castle was built, how the Newcastle family and their retainers—on the destruction and blocking up of the sally ports of the old fortress— would be unwilling to lose so notable, so ancient, and so popular a feature as Mortimer's hole, and strengthened by Leland and his copyists of the century after, would eagerly retain for the only underground passage which survived the name which it bears to-day.

(1) Rymer's Foedera Vol. xii. 271. Ed. 1704.
(2) Rymer's Feeders Vol. xii., 272. Ed. 1704. I am indebted to Dr. Granger for assistance in the translation of these documents
(3) Harl MSS., 200. (4) Ibid. 1668. (5) "Scalacronica" written by Sir Thos. Gray in Norman French, 1356. The MS. is in the possession of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Transcribed by Joseph Stevenson, 1836. Translated by Sir H. E. Maxwell, 1907.
(6) "lez degrees du deuzisme bayl."
(1) Godfrey "History of the Parish and Priory of Lenton," p. 389.
(8) Patent Rolls. 4th Ed. Ill, m 29.
(9) Ibid 18th Ed. III. m 27.
(10) Deering "Nottinghamia vetus et nova," p. 184. (2)  London N. & Q. 1898, Feb. 19.