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Tresham Papers

In 1832 stonemasons working on the former home of the Tresham family at Rushton Hall, discovered bundles of old documents relating to family affairs. These provide a detailed account of expenditure, religion and astute estate management throughout the late Tudor and early Stuart period, including letters which relate to Francis Tresham's involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605. In fact it is after this event that the papers were concealed, and remained so for over 200 years.

The richest documentary clues to Lyveden are contained in a letter written by Sir Thomas from Ely prison on 9 October 1597. In it he directs his foreman, John Slynne for the laying out of the garden, as well as the listing of specific plants. Tresham was a knowledgeable plantsman and horticulturist, paying a good deal of attention to unglamorous subjects such as water supply, drainage and maintenance. The bowling alley to the north of the lodge was to be 'kept very short with oft mowing' and pathways laid 'all over a full foot deep of stone' to prevent water logging during the winter months.

Much of the original form described by Tresham, is still visible today including the 'ascents' of the mounds and terracing. These remain, as Tresham described, "very convenient both to walk in open air, as well in summer in shadow".

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Extract from Sir Thomas Tresham's 
                letter to John Slynne dated 9 October 1597 and contained within British Library 
                (reference MSS 39831). Click image to see larger example.

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