Worcester People and Places

Judge Berkeley and Hidden Treasure.


Category: Worcester People and Places
One of those sons, Robert, born at Spetchley House in 1584, became Sir, Robert Berkeley, but was better known as Judge Berkeley. He in the face of great parliamentary pressure, ruled that Charles 1 could raise 'Ship Money'. Parliament sent Black Rod and arrested Berkeley 'on the bench', and took him to prison, which struck terror' in the rest of the Judges. It was three years before he was brought to trial however, and was provided with rooms at the Sheriff of London's residence, and was even invited to take his place on the bench while awaiting trial. Eventially, he was found guilty of 'subverting' and fined £20,000 - a vast sum in those days. Later, this was settled for half, and he resumed practice at the Bar as Sergeant Berkeley - but this shielded him from activity in the Civil War. In those happier days, Sir Robery bought land at Spetchley, and in those days of special privilages, under licence from the Crown, he established a Deer Park of 196 acres in 1625. In 1651, on the eve of the Battle of Worcester, the Berkeleys, unwilling to be involved, left for a safer house, leaving Spetchley in the hands of the steward. The Scottish Presbyterian soldiers of the King's army, did not distinguish between friend and foe, sacked and burnt the mansion. The affair is traditionally reponsible for the loss of the Berkeley plate. The steward was mortally wounded in the raid, and when the Berkeley's returned tried with his last breath to confide the hiding place to one of the family, but could only grasp, 'plate - elm - avenue'. Sir Robert made the stables habitable, and the family lived there until the present house was built. It was designed by Berkeley's chaplain, Rev.Francis Lycett, in 1821. As far as is know, the plate hidden under one of the elms in the great avenue in the park, has never been recovered.


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