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The royal visit

Joan and Peter Shaw

The following poem appeared in the Loughborough News on Christmas Eve 1868. It was reprinted in an article on Cotes contained in Spencers' Illustrated Leicester Almanack of 1871 written by "T.R.P." (presumably our old friend T. R. Potter).

The date of the King's visit was actually May 1645 not 1648.


A ROYAL NIGHT AT COTES

MAY 28TH 1648

The month of May was near its close,
Strange troopers thronged our streets;
And at the Cross the question rose,
"Townsmen! can these be friends or foes
Whom at each turn one meets?"
Bells clash from All Saints' reeling steeple:
And from the lordly Hall of Cotes,
Aloft a Royal standard floats -
Joy for a loyal people.
Groups gather on the ancient Bridge,
And some the Mere Hill's western ridge
And some the Moat hill crown.
And, pouring down from grey Grace Dieu,
They learn a gallant band and true
Makes for the loyal Town.
Around Cotes' ancient linden trees,
As thick "as swarms of murmurous bees,"
Soldiers in order stand.
Ready, aye ready for the field,
Ready to die, but not to yield,
Is all that gallant band.

*   *   * *   *    *

A figure leaves the ancient Hall -
Glides by the garden's terraced wall,
And asks the sentinel at call
What news the couriers bring.
Then burst from all the thousand throats
That crowd the bridge and park of Cotes,
The joyous and the welcome notes,
"The KING! It is the KING!"
"It is your King - the Monarch cries,
"CHARLES STUART meets your anxious eyes,
"Trusting the leal and true -
"Yes, soldiers, subjects, friends - in me
"Your injur'd Sovereign Lord you see,
"He sees but friends in you.
"Now to your homes, and I to mine,
"For Kings as well as earles must dine -
"And in brave Skipwith's generous wine,
"I'll pledge 'our righteous cause.'
"And you, stout hearts! your arms, - your prayers,
"Your Monarch asks, and feels he shares,
"Can blessings ever rest in theirs,
"Who outrage King and Laws?"
Then, leaning on brave Skipwith's arm,
And bowing with that potent charm
A royal presence gives,
He sought the hall, and then commends
His cause, - his crown, - his Queen, - his friends,
To him who ever lives.
That sleepless night, he penn'd "Swete harte
"Bear up - 'tis hard from thee to parte,
"Be firm - be true - I know thou art,
"Dere frend, wyfe mine!
"And I at Cotes in death or life
"Am only thine."
Next morn a muster on the lawn,
And King and Court, and troops withdrawn
From Skipwith's Hall of Cotes -
And, like that King, that ancient Hall,
Soon totter'd to inglorious fall,
As pensive pilgrim notes.
Yet there a cherish'd symbol stood,
Carved in the mantel's cedar wood,
A Crown above a Star.
And underneath two letters told,
What guest that hall had held of old,
Those letters were C.R.


Originally published in the WHO Newsletter 1998.

Copyright the author

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