Archive for the ‘Cambridgeshire’ Category

The weight of family tradition

October 9, 2014

 

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70) as a young man, attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 2900098. ©Cheffins

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70) as a young man, attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 2900098. ©Cheffins

We have just purchased this portrait at auction at Cheffins in Cambridge. Attributed to the painter Thomas Hudson, it depicts Charles Yorke (1722-70), second son of the 1st Earl of Hardwicke and father of the 3rd Earl. The portrait has now joined the other Yorke family portraits, a number of which are also by Hudson, at Wimpole Hall.

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70), at the time he became Solicitor-General in 1756, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207788. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70), at the time he became Solicitor-General in 1756, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207788. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Charles Yorke might be seen as a paradigm of the pressures of family expectation. A good potted biography of him can be found on the History of Parliament website. From an early age he was expected to do well in the law profession. His mother’s uncle, Lord Somers, had been Lord Chancellor, and his father had held the same post for nearly twenty years.

Portrait of Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Charles was indeed clever, was called to the bar and became a Member of Parliament. But he seems to have been indecisive and over-analytical, and those traits became more pronounced as his career progressed.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Yorke (1725–60), Lady Anson, sister of Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Shugborough Hall, inv. no. 1271067. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Yorke (1725–60), Lady Anson, sister of Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Shugborough Hall, inv. no. 1271067. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In Parliament he was constantly veering between the Government and the opposition and couldn’t make up his mind when offered posts. Nevertheless he did become Solicitor-General in 1756 and Attorney-General in 1762 and again in 1765.

Portrait of Catherine Freman (1736/7-59), who married Charles Yorke in 1755, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207789. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Catherine Freman (1736/7-59), who married Charles Yorke in 1755, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207789. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

When in January 1770 the Duke of Grafton finally did offer Yorke the Lord Chancellorship he felt caught out between his ambition and family tradition, the apparent instability of the Grafton administration, and his ties to friends and relations (including his brother) who were associated with the opposition. He ultimately accepted the post but the stress had so affected him that he died just three days later.

 

A Roman quartet returns to Wimpole

June 3, 2014
Detail of the bust of the emperor Caracallarecently returned to Wimpole Hall (inv. no. 2900080). ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

Detail of the bust of the emperor Caracalla recently returned to Wimpole Hall (inv. no. 2900080). ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

Four seventeenth-century Roman marble busts have recently returned to Wimpole Hall after a 60-year absence.

The four Roman busts back in the entrance hall at Wimpole. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

The four Roman busts back in the entrance hall at Wimpole. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

Two of the busts, of the emperor Caracalla and of a man described as ‘a philosopher’, were accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by the Government and allocated to Wimpole.

The bust of the 'philosopher', whose identity is yet to be further researched (inv. no. 2900081). ©National Trust/Phil MynottPhilosopher Phil Mynott

The bust of the ‘philosopher’, whose identity is yet to be further researched (inv. no. 2900081). ©National Trust/Phil MynottPhilosopher Phil Mynott

The other two, of the emperor Trajan and of another as yet unidentified emperor, were purchased by private treaty with the help of grants from the Art Fund, from a fund set up by the late the Hon. Simon Sainsbury, the Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Levy bequest and other gifts and bequests.

The busts of an as yet unidentified emperor (left) and Trajan (right) in the inner hall,  flanking curator Wendy Monkhouse, who originally made the case for their acquisition. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

The busts of an as yet unidentified emperor (left) and Trajan (right) in the inner hall, flanking curator Wendy Monkhouse, who originally made the case for their acquisition. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

The busts are back on display in the entrance hall, where they were previously, and they join a fifth bust of the emperor Marcus Aurelius which had remained at Wimpole.

Unidentified emperor (inv. no. 2900083). ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

Unidentified emperor (inv. no. 2900083). ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

The Wimpole provenance of this group of busts can be traced back to at least the 1770s, but they may have been part of of the collection of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741) who, apart from being a voracious bibliophile, also collected coins and antiquities.

The emperor Trajan (inv. no. 2900082). ©National Trust/Phil Mynott Phil Mynott

The emperor Trajan (inv. no. 2900082). ©National Trust/Phil Mynott Phil Mynott

The busts were made in Rome in the seventeenth century in response to the strong demand across Europe for objects evoking Roman history. Bust such as these referenced the lives and achievements of the different Roman emperors.

The emperor Marcus Aurelius (inv. no. 208037) on the great staircase. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

The emperor Marcus Aurelius (inv. no. 208037) on the great staircase. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

Trajan and Marcus Aurelius were among the good guys overseeing Rome’s golden age. The fratricidal Caracalla was definitely a bad boy, but his brooding countenance – and the fact that he came to power while in York – made his bust popular in eighteenth-century England.

Julia Glynn of Cliveden Conservation preparing the bust of Caracalla for display. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

Julia Glynn of Cliveden Conservation preparing the bust of Caracalla for display. ©National Trust/Phil Mynott

The busts have been prepared for display by Clivenden Conservation and placed on the carved wooden plinths made for them by the Cambridge firm of Rattee and Kett in about 1860.

A Gilded Age cottage in Cambridgeshire

August 13, 2013
Regency-period wheelbarrow in the Library Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Regency-period wheelbarrow in the Library Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I have just seen a copy of the newly published Treasures from Lord Fairhaven’s Library at Anglesey Abbey, written by Mark Purcell, William Hale and David Pearson. The authors describe the extraordinary collection of books assembled at Anglesey Abbey by Huttleston Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) between the 1920s and the 1960s.

The south front of Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Robert Morris

The south front of Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Robert Morris

Lord Fairhaven was the eldest son of Urban Hanlon Broughton (1857-1929), an Anglo-American sanitation and mining entrepreneur, and Cara Rogers (1867-1939) the daughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909), an American oil, gas, copper and railway tycoon. Rogers was an exponent of the rise of the monopolistic businessman in late nineteenth-century America, which saw him and other ruthless titans like John D. Rockefeller, Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan amass stupendous fortunes.

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, with its infinity mirrors and William Kent-designed silver chandeliers. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, with its infinity mirrors and William Kent-designed silver chandeliers. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Although this book is strictly speaking about Fairhaven’s library, it also clearly shows how his tastes more generally were shaped by his American plutocratic background. The appearance of Anglesey Abbey and its gardens reflects the ideas of Gilded Age arbiters of taste such as Edith Wharton (1862-1937). Anglesey Abbey is, in effect, a Gilded Age ‘cottage’ preserved in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Regency rococo revival mantle clock by James McCabe in the Library. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Regency rococo revival mantle clock by James McCabe in the Library. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Fairhaven loved British art and architecture, and he had the ancient Anglesey Abbey – latterly used as a farmhouse – carefully restored and – in phases – extended. But the interiors were done up lavishly, complete with fitted carpets and central heating, relatively rare at the time. And he gradually filled the house with a very fine, if also very personal, collection of paintings, bronzes, tapestries, furniture, clocks and books.

The library desk, said to have come from Houghton Hall and possibly used by Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The library desk, said to have come from Houghton Hall and possibly used by Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Library, as described in this book, ‘is a slightly modernised 1930s take on the historicist style in vogue in Britain and America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – with just a hint of Gotham City and the Bat Cave.’ This book once again triumphantly proves the point (previously made by Mark Purcell here and here, for instance) that books are not just information carriers but also biographical, social and cultural signifiers.

Lord Fairhaven’s wardrobe

March 7, 2013
A pair of the 1st Lord Fairhaven's co-respondent shoes. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

A pair of the 1st Lord Fairhaven’s co-respondent shoes. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Anglesey Abbey, its garden and its sumptuous collections are largely the creation of Huttleston Broughton, 1st Baron Fairhaven (1896-1966). The co-heir to several American-made fortunes, he made Anglesey Abbey into a microcosm of luxury, craftsmanship and art.

Lord Fairhaven and his mother, Cara Rogers, on board her yacht Sapphire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Fairhaven and his mother, Cara Rogers, on board her yacht Sapphire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Fairhaven left Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust, and in his will he expressed the wish that the house and the garden ‘should be preserved and kept representative of an age and a way of life that is quickly passing.’ Part of Lord Fairhaven’s extensive wardrobe has been preserved in the house and it, too, is redolent of mid-20th-century upper-class life.

Part of Lord Fairhaven's wardrobe. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Part of Lord Fairhaven’s wardrobe. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Lord Fairhaven owned about 50 suits. He regularly wore a carnation in his buttonhole – coloured during the day and white during the evening.

Lord Fairhaven's umbrellas and walking sticks in the Long Gallery at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Lord Fairhaven’s umbrellas and walking sticks in the Long Gallery at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Although – or perhaps because – he lived alone, Lord Fairhaven liked to invite friends over for dinner, for which formal dress would be worn. The after-dinner conversation would stop promptly at 9, when the butler brought in a radio on a silver tray so that the assembled company could listen to the BBC news.

Of books and their owners

February 5, 2013
18th-century pamphlets in the Library at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images

18th-century pamphlets in the Library at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images

The colleagues at Dunham Massey have just created an online classroom called the À Ma Puissance Channel. It will feature interviews and lectures given by various experts and produced by Unity House Films, originally for the benefit of Dunham’s volunteers but now universally accessible.

First up is Mark Purcell, our libraries curator, with a brisk gallop through the different types of libraries the National Trust looks after, and the insights they provide about social and intellectual history.

Lady Mary Booth, Countess Stamford (1704-1772), who bought and read some of the books now in the Library at Dunham. ©National Trust Images/Fraser Marr

Lady Mary Booth, Countess Stamford (1704-1772), who bought and read some of the books now in the Library at Dunham. ©National Trust Images/Fraser Marr

As Mark says, the libraries in the historic houses of the National Trust contain relatively large numbers of books which would have been ordinary or even ephemeral at the time of their publication, and which for that very reason have not survived in large numbers. The collection of pamphlets at Dunham Massey is one example of such a group of rare ‘ordinary’ publications.

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The library of the 1st Lord Fairhaven, a 20th-century millionaire bibliophile, at Anglesey Abbey is at the other end of the scale in being full of beatifully produced books. But even there the perceived value of certain books was subject to change: the first edition of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, originally bought purely for amusement, is now a valuable rarity.

Early 20th-century editions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with bindings by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, in the Library at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Early 20th-century editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with bindings by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, in the Library at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Mark gives many more fascinating examples, illustrating that subtle but immensely valuable feature of historic houses: the eloquence of objects in their original settings. I am looking forward to many more such talks.

Mixing and matching

December 14, 2012
A Chinese empress with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

A Chinese empress with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

It seemed madly ambitious: to make all of the UK’s publicly owned oil paintings available online via one website. But now the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC have completed their epic project, and as of yesterday 211,861 paintings are accessible via the Your Paintings site.

Chinese landscape with pagoda and boats, by William Alexander, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Chinese landscape with pagoda and boats, by William Alexander, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The National Trust is the largest single collection on the site, with 12,567 paintings. But the National Trust hasn’t just contributed to this project, we have also greatly benefited by having had all of our paintings photographed in colour for the first time.

The Your Paintings site provides unprecedented opportunities for locating works by particular artists and discovering links between collections on a national scale.

A Chinese emperor with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

A Chinese emperor with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

I just spotted these wonderful images of hyper-elegant Chinese figures by Robert Jones. They were made to decorate the Banqueting Room at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and they seem to depict the Prince Regent’s daydreams about the Chinese imperial court as a place of unquestioned power, vast wealth and refined luxury.

Chinese landscape with pagoda and boats, by William Alexander, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The work of William Alexander was among the sources for Jones’s fantasy vision. Alexander accompanied Earl Macartney on a diplomatic mission to Beijing from 1792 to 1794. On his return he provided the illustrations for a number of books about China, including Sir George Staunton’s official account of the Macartney embassy (1797) and his own book The Costume of China (1805).

Although his work is generally realistic, it has a picturesque sense of composition and detail – as in the pictures shown here, also accessible through Your Paintings – that appealed to other artists and consumers of chinoiserie.

Wimpole in the round

November 7, 2012

The Breakfast Room at Wimpole Hall, the table set with tea for one to suggest the period during the 20th century when the house was owned by Elsie Bambridge. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Our libraries curator Mark Purcell recently alerted me to a virtual tour of  Wimpole Hall. The site allows you to explore  360-degree images of the main rooms.

An angling party, by Edward Smith, mid 18th century, acquired by Elsie Bambridge for Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

The experience is not quite as vivid as actually visiting Wimpole, of course – there is no need to mothball our historic houses just yet – but it does provide a good impression of the layout of the house and the proportions of the rooms and the objects in them.

Portrait by Alan Ramsay of Jemima, Marchioness Grey, in the Long Gallery at Wimpole. The sitter lived at Wimpole in the late 18th century. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

Having only seen the portraits of the 2nd Earl of Hardwicke and his wife Jemima, Marchioness Grey, in reproduction, I was pleasantly surprised by the image of the Long Gallery which shows the pictures in their splendid gilded Kentian frames.

Portrait of the 1st Earl of Hardwicke by Thomas Hudson, in the Long Gallery at Wimpole. © National Trust Collections

And by panning round to the opposite side of the Gallery you can see the portrait of the 1st Earl, with his sumptuous Lord Chancellor’s ‘handbag’, which I featured here earlier. I was also surprised to see how small the charming 18th-century picture of a collector, in Mrs Bambridge’s Study, actually is.

A collector in his study, Wenzel Wehrlin, mid 18th century, acquired by Elsie Bambridge for Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

The virtual tour as a whole also gives a flavour of life in an English country house in the twentieth century, when it was bought, furnished and lived in by Elsie Bambridge, the only surviving child of Rudyard Kipling. Her taste interacts with the layers left by earlier owners, resulting in one of those interesting country house palimpsests.

One portrait, two stories

April 5, 2012

Portrait of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, as Lord Chancellor, by Thomas Hudson, at Hammond-Harwood House. ©Hammond-Harwood House

The recent post about Lord Chancellor Hardwicke’s purse at Wimpole Hall prompted a comment from Allison Titman, curator of Hammond-Harwood House, a historic mansion in Annapolis, Maryland, saying that they, too, have a portrait of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke.

Hammond-Harwood House, Annapolis, Maryland. ©Hammond-Harwood House

It turns out that the Hammond-Harwood portrait, by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), is more or less identical to a Hudson portrait of the same sitter at Wimpole.

Portrait of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, as Lord Chancellor, by Thomas Hudson, at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. Acquired with the help of the Art Fund, 1989. ©National Trust Collections

The Wimpole version was introduced to the house relatively recently when it was bought by the National Trust at auction in 1998 with the help of the Art Fund.

There hadn’t been a portrait of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke at the house for some time, and the National Trust curators were keen to show visitors a picture of a man who had been so important to the history of the place.

Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

The Wimpole portrait had originally been given by Hardwicke to his secretary, Hutton Perkins, who bequeathed it to his second daughter, Elizabeth. She married Richard Wood of Hollin Hall, North Yorkshire, and the portrait descended in the Wood family at Hollin Hall until offered for sale at auction by Christie’s in 1998 and purchased by the National Trust.

A grey Arabian in a landscape with the south front of Hollin Hall beyond, by John Ferneley, 1844 (?). ©Christie's

The Hammond-Harwood version, so Allison tells me, descended in the Yorke family to Susan Amelia Yorke (d. 1887), a niece of the 4th Earl of Hardwicke (the photographs of her shown here can be found at the Grand Ladies site).

In 1857 Susan married Charles Joseph Theophilus Hambro (1834-1891) , a scion of the Dano-British Hambro trading and banking family. Charles Joseph’s father, Charles Joachim Hambro, Baron Hambro (1807-1877), had recently moved to Britain, set up Hambro’s Bank, and purchased Milton Abbey in Dorset as his country seat.

Portrait photographs of Susan Amelia Hambro, née Yorke, by Camille Silvy, 1860. ©Grand Ladies

The Hudson portrait stayed at Milton Abbey until the Hambro family sold the house in 1932 and auctioned off part of its contents. The Hudson was bought by Mrs Clifford Hendrix and she donated it to Hammond-Harwood House in 1950.

Milton Abbey as illustrated in Morris's Country Seats (1880)

The histories – almost biographies – of these two identical portraits has been very different, but I think they illustrate rather well how the same work of art can mean different things to different people, at different times and in different places.

Clever waiters

April 3, 2012

Black basaltes ware bust of the actor David Garrick, on a dumb waiter in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Courtney Barnes recently mentioned the tiered tables known as ‘dumb waiters’ on her blog Style Court. These tables were originally developed in the eighteenth century as convenient pieces of furniture to keep food and drink available in the evening after the servants had been dismissed. The traditional name presumably refers to the tables’ role as mute servants, rather than mentally challenged ones.

The Book Room at Wimpole. The plasterwork in the forground dates from the James Gibbs phase of the room, while the elliptical arches were designed by John Soane. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I have found another example of such a tiered table in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. I am not sure whether this particular one was originally used to hold food and was later moved to the library, or whether tiered tables were sometimes specifically made to hold books.

The chimneypiece and overmantel mirror in the Book Room designed by Soane. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The two main library rooms at Wimpole have a fascinating history. The original Library was created by James Gibbs in the late 1720s to house part of the the huge collection of books and pamphlets of the manic accumulator Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford.

View from the Book Room into the Library. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Gibbs also created part of what is now the Book Room by annexing half of the orangery and turning it into an anteroom to the Library. This room was extended in 1806 by Sir John Soane for Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke. Soane designed the characteristic elliptical arches decorated with paterae, executed by the plasterer John Papworth.

The Library at Wimpole, originally created by Gibbs for the 2nd Earl of Oxford. The windows at the far end and on the left were added later. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The history of the books at Hardwicke is even more convoluted: almost all of the 2nd Earl of Oxford’s books left Wimpole after his death, but the 1st Earl of Hardwicke brought in his own collection, as well as one inherited from Lord Chancellor Somers. His sons Philip Yorke, the 2nd Earl, and Charles Yorke also added to the books at Wimpole, including a collection inherited by the latter’s wife from Tittenhanger in Hertfordshire.

View of the Library looking towards the Book Room. The set of library steps began its life as a pulpit. The pair of globes dates from the early nineteenth century. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Philip Yorke, the 3rd Earl, sold some books in 1792 (while simultaneously commissioning Soane to enlarge the Book Room) and Charles ‘Champagne Charlie’ Yorke, the 5th Earl, sold a large part of the library in 1888. In the 20th century Captain and Mrs Bambridge once again added collections of books. These included some rare editions of Rudyard Kipling’s works, Elsie Bambridge being his only surviving child.

The private side of the public purse

March 30, 2012

Detail of the Lord Chancellor's purse of office at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I was wrong when I said earlier that we didn’t have good photographs of purses of office in National Trust collections. There are some excellent images of the Lord Chancellor’s purse, worn and tarnished but still an extraordinary example of the embroiderer’s art, that belonged the Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.

The Lord Chancellor's purse on display at Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 1st Earl started out as an able and ambitious lawyer and politician and he went on to contribute to successive Whig governments. He was influential in shaping of the law of equity and the legal definition of marriage in England and Wales.

Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwick, as Lord Chancellor, by the Reverend James Wills (fl. 1746– d. 1777), c. 1740, at Erddig, inv. no. 1151294. His purse of office is propped up behind him. © National Trust Collections

He ended up being one of the longest-serving Lord Chancellors. It is said King George II did not recognise him after he left office since he had never before seen him without his robes of state and full wig.

Detail of the tarnished gold and silver thread on an angel's face on the Lord Chancellor's purse at Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Hardwicke purchased Wimpole in 1740 as a country house suited to his personal and dynastic ambitions. He employed the architect Henry Flitcroft to rebuild the house, which retains its external appearance from that time.

The south front of Wimpole Hall and St Andrew's parish church, both rebuilt by Henry Flitcroft for the 1st Earl of Hardwicke. ©National Trust Images/Rupert Truman

Wimpole was also the setting for Hardwicke’s growing family, especially during convivial late summer gatherings.  But then ‘family’ was often the equivalent of ‘business’ in the eighteenth century.

Portrait by Alan Ramsay of Jemima, Marchioness Grey and Countess of Hardwicke, the 1st Earl's daughter-in-law and a social networker in her own right. Inv. no. 207812.1 ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

Hardwicke’s eldest son Philip married Jemima, Marchioness Grey, and they lived at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. His eldest daughter Elizabeth married Admiral Anson who, when he wasn’t sailing the globe, lived at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire. Their distant Yorke cousins were based at Erddig, in Wrexham. The extended family was a power network as well as a social network (as I also touched on in this earlier post).


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