During the Commonwealth, Rufford Abbey was one of the places appointed for a rendezvous of persons disaffected to the government, "where about 500 horse met and had with them, in the field, a cart load of horse arms, to arm such as would come to them. But upon a sudden a great fear fell upon them, insomuch that they left their arms in the open field, every one shifted for himself."

Through a massive gateway, the pillars of which are surmounted by the arms of the family, you enter an avenue of lofty lime, beech, and elm trees, and immediately the mansion breaks upon your view. On ascending a flight of steps, and through a fine stone portal, the architectural decorations of which are the arms of the late noble possessor in carved stone, you enter the large hall. A beautifully carved oaken screen at once attracts attention, on which is the motto "Murus meus conscientia sana," in quaint characters; and abounding in rich Elizabethan tracery, shields, ribands, grotesque masks, and bold projecting mouldings.

Other objects in this room are worthy of attention. There is the richly-carved chimney piece of Caen stone, bearing the family arms, surmounted with elegant carvings of masks, tracery, finials, &c. Then there is the open timbered roof—the spacious music gallery—the raised dais—the floor of tinted brick, in mosaic devices, and the fine mellow tone of the oak panelling.

The dining-room contains amongst other portraits those of the celebrated senator, Sir George Savile, by Wilson; Lord Thomas Coventry, keeper of the Great Seal in the time of Charles I.; George, Marquis of Halifax; Lady Gertrude Pierrepont, and the Countess of Northampton.

The drawing-room is elegantly and profusely decorated with carvings of flowers, medallions, ribands, and wreaths in white and gold. The walls are hung with costly crimson silk, embroidered with flowers in white silk, panelled with carved gold frames, enriched cornices, splendid furniture, elaborate needlework, and numerous articles of taste and elegance.

The billiard-room contains portraits of Charles I; Anne, daughter of Lord Coventry; Sir William Savile and his wife; the Countess of Scarborough; George, Earl of Shrewsbury, and others.

The library is a beautiful apartment, with a highly enriched ceiling, and contains a good collection of English literature.

Lord Scarborough’s sitting-room and bed-room contain some very ancient and rare tapestry amongst which is the Coronation of Queen Esther.

The state bed-room is also hung with very fine tapestry, consisting of scenes in Roman History, amongst which is the Procession of Marcus Aurelius to the Temple of Janus.

The picture gallery is 114 feet long, and 36 feet wide, but many of the pictures which formerly graced the walls have been removed.

The chapel, in its present shape, was fitted up in the time of Charles II. There is a fine old slab in the floor with a cross incised, surrounded by an inscription in Latin to the following effect:

"Here lies brother Robert de Markham, a monk of this house, for whose soul we pray the Lord that it may rest in peace. He died sixteenth day of the calends of April, in the year of our Lord, 1309."

This, we believe, was found many years ago during some excavation near the Abbey, and was most probably from the old church. The peculiarly carved finials on the seats are deserving of notice. In the Gallery, or part devoted to the ladies, the walls are covered with a very rare old gilded and embossed leather, and the numerous folio prayer books here bear the date 1659.

But few remains of the original Abbey now exist; a part of what may have been the refectory, now used as a servants’ hall, is well deserving the attention of the archaeologist, and is represented in the tail-piece to this chapter. Its position is from north to south.

The Stuarts often visited at Rufford. Thoroton says, "This place hath often entertained King James and King Charles his son, being very pleasant and commodious for hunting in the forest of Shirewood."

George the IV, when Prince of Wales, visited Rufford. At this time the elder Dibdin was engaged as Master of the Ceremonies, and during one of his walks in the surrounding park he saw a woodman felling an oak, which is said to have inspired him with his celebrated song, "Woodman’s stroke," which was written and sung at the time.

Servants' Hall, Rufford Abbey.