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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Upon the condition of adding the name of Boevey to Crawley


She was then to all appearance

very well, but she died that very day month of a bowel complaint."--"Upon Wednesday morning," wrote Mr. MacBarrow, "she was as well at breakfast as usual; between eleven and twelve she was seized with a most violent colic. We sent to Gloucester for Greville, as the nearest at hand; that night for Lane, but he was not to be met with. The extremity of pain continued, and, notwithstanding all means that could be used, nothing would pass. She apprehended death approaching the first day, and said what her illness was: we sent to Oxford and Hereford, but no physician until it was too late. Upon Friday morning she had a little ease, which gave us great hopes; but very soon the exquisite pain returned, and never left her until death had performed its great office, betwixt eleven and twelve on Saturday morning. She was sensible all along, and expressed great satisfaction in being here, where she said she always wished to die. She was buried in the same vault with Mrs. Cowling on 23rd January, 1726."--"Of her personal beauty," observes the Rev. C. Crawley, "although highly extolled, it really appears that very little can be said or seen, if we may form our opinions from the three portraits of her at Flaxley Abbey. They all represent a broad surface of a benevolent and good-natured countenance; and though they were evidently painted at different periods of her life, yet they bear so great a resemblance to each other that we may reasonably infer they were all good likenesses--in each
of them the mole on the cheek has been defined with all due minuteness."

Mrs. Boevey bequeathed 1200 pounds to augment the living of Flaxley, the interest of 400 pounds to apprentice poor children, and a similar sum towards putting them out. Lastly she designed the rebuilding of the church, "which pious design was speedily executed by Mrs. Mary Pope." This work was effected about the year 1730, but report says _not_ "speedily," as the parishioners found it necessary to institute a suit in Chancery to secure its accomplishment. The site of the old chapel was retained, only the size was increased, if we may judge from the view that Sir R. Atkyns gives of the former building, which he says was "very small, and had a low wooden tower at the west end." Most of the old monuments were transferred to it, and the new church, although rather plain, was "peculiarly neat" and substantial. Upon Mrs. Boevey's death the estate passed by will to Thomas Crawley, Esq., of London, merchant, in tail male, upon the condition of adding the name of Boevey to Crawley. Thomas, a lineal descendant, succeeded to the baronetage on the death of Sir Charles Barrow in January, 1789, by limitation of the patent. {189} Part of the mansion having been destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt by him in 1777, with extensive additions. This house yet remains, and is a capacious structure.

[Picture: The original Chapel at Flaxley, as it appeared in 1712]

"The iron manufactory," writes Rev. T. Rudge, at the beginning of this century, "is still carried on, and the metal is esteemed peculiarly good; but its goodness does not arise from any extraordinary qualities in the ore, but from the practice of working the furnace and forges with charcoal wood, without any mixture of pit coal. The quantity of charcoal required is so considerable, that the furnace cannot be kept in blow or working more than nine months successively, the wheels which work the bellows and hammers being turned by a powerful stream of water. At this time (Oct. 28, 1802) a cessation has taken place for nearly a year. Lancashire ore, which is brought to Newnham by sea, furnishes the principal supply; the mine found in the Forest being either too scanty to answer the expense of raising it, or when raised too difficult of fusion, and consequently too consumptive of fuel, to allow the common use of it." Since then so great a change has been effected in the mode of reducing the ore, that several tons of the Lancashire mine yet remain unused near the spot where the Flaxley furnace stood, the Forest ore readily yielding to the treatment it now receives in the blast furnaces of the district. "When the furnace is at work, about twenty tons a week are reduced to pig iron; in this state it is carried to the forges, where about eight tons a week are hammered out into bars, ploughshares, &c., ready for the smith." The aged people of the neighbourhood well remember when the Flaxley furnaces were in blast, and tell of the ancient cinders and pickings of the old mine-holes being taken down to them. With their disuse the former mode of manufacturing iron ceased in the district. The furnace buildings have been long removed, and the pools drained in which the water accumulated for driving the machinery.


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