Archive for the ‘Ickworth’ Category

Tea with Molly

March 15, 2012

Portrait of Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey, in old age, attributed to Johann Zoffany (inv. no. 54443). ©NTPL/Christopher Hurst

We have just purchased a silver tea kettle stand with a connection to Ickworth, in Suffolk, from silver dealer and expert Christopher Hartop.

Silver tea kettle stand by Frederick Kandler engraved with the arms of Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey. ©Christopher Hartop

The stand is by Frederick Kandler and is dated 1764. It is engraved with the arms of Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey (1696-1768).

Pastel portrait of Molly Lepel, Lady Hervey, as a young woman by George Knapton after Sir Godfrey Kneller (inv. no. 66470). ©NTPL/Christopher Hurst

Mary (informally known as Molly), Lady Hervey, was a maid of honour to Queen Caroline and married John, Lord Hervey (1696-1743), the heir to the 1st Earl of Bristol. In spite of Lord Hervey’s ambivalent sexuality (he inspired the quip that there were three species of human, ‘men, women and Herveys’) the marriage was a love match which resulted in eight children. Lady Hervey was praised by contemporaries for her ‘cheerful elegance’, wit and beauty.

Portrait of John, Lord Hervey, holding his purse of office as Lord Privy Seal, by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1741 (inv. no. 13016). ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

Stands like this one supported silver tripod burners which in turn supported silver tea kettles. Such luxurious tea-making equipment would have been used by the lady of the house to serve tea to her guests.

Following the relatively early death of her husband Lady Hervey spent most of her time at Ickworth. National Trust curator and silver expert James Rothwell notes that she would have presided over the tea table there while her father-in-law was still alive, and would have continued doing so after her eldest son (who remained unmarried) succeeded as the 2nd Earl.

Silver tea kettle set by Paul Crespin and Frederick Kandler, 1745, engraved with the arms of the 1st Earl of Bristol (inv. no. 852071). ©National Trust/Sue James

Another, complete tea kettle set engraved with the arms of the 1st Earl survives at Ickworth. The discovery of this additional stand indicates that there was more than one tea kettle in use at Ickworth at the same time. James Rothwell remarks that this seems to have been the case in other country houses too, for instance at Dunham Massey, where the Earl of Warrington had three silver tea kettles.

Some of the Hervey silver at Ickworth. ©National Trust

This acquisition has been funded by the Chelmsford and District National Trust Centre and the North Hertfordshire Association of the National Trust.

As it happens, Christopher Hartop will be sharing his expertise at a three-day course on collecting antique silver at Ardgowan, Renfrewshire, from the 21st to the 23rd of April 2012. The programme will include a discussion of styles and trends, handling silver pieces, identifying marks, spotting fakes, and a vist to the magnificant silver collection at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute. For more information contact Sally Gibson at Ardgowan on +44 (0)1475 521656 or

The Regency library at Ickworth

August 30, 2011

The Library at Ickwworth. A number of important pictures in this room were acquired in 1996 with the help of the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Following the post about the Regency library at Stourhead – and again inspired by Mark Purcell’s National Trust Libraries Facebook page – I wanted to show a few images of the Regency library at Ickworth, in Suffolk.

Portrait of the 1st Marquess of Bristol by Hoppner. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

This room was created by architect William Field in the late 1820s for Frederick William Hervey, 5th Earl and 1st Marquess of Bristol, with furnishings by Banting, France & Co, who also worked for George IV and William IV.

Italian marble chimneypiece in the Library, installed in 1829 but probably acquired much earlier by the Earl-Bishop. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 1st Marquess had inherited the half-built house in 1803 from his mercurial father, Frederick, 4rd Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. The height of the Library, and of several other rooms in the main Rotunda, reflects the Earl-Bishop’s belief that high-ceilinged rooms kept his asthma at bay. He seems to have had a yen for circular buildings, as evident in one of his other projects, the Mussenden Temple at Downhill, Co. Londonderry

The Rotunda, Ickworth's central block. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The Earl-Bishop quarrelled with his son and out of spite left his personal fortune to a distant cousin (although he couldn’t deny him the entailed English family estates). It took the 1st Marquess until 1821 to amalgamate sufficient funds to re-start work on the house.  

Page from a seventeenth-century Italian mansucript in the style of Ulisse Aldrovandi, c. 1600, in the Library at Ickworth. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

The curtains and upholstery in the Library were replaced in 1909-11 by Frederick William Hervey, the 4th Marquess, with green and silver damask from the Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company. The 4th Marquess also moved the Regency carved and gilded pelmet boards from the Drawing Room into the Library.

Angelica Kauffman: Celebrity artist

April 19, 2010

Self-portrait by Angelica Kauffman at Saltram, Devon. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and transferred to the National Trust in 1957. ©NTPL/John Hammond

I previously featured the Kauffman portrait that we manage to re-acquire for Oxburgh Hall, but in other National Trust properties we also have a few works by this artist, which illustrate her remarkable career.

Angelica Kauffman, The Artist Hesitating Between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1791 or 1794, at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire. Acquired with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2002. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Angelica Kauffman was born in Switzerland in 1741, and as she grew up she showed talent for both music and art. A priest advised her that art would be more rewarding in the long term. Kauffman later dramatised this ‘judgement of Hercules’ decision in an image of herself hesitating between the blandishments of Music and the rocky road of Painting.

Portrait of Sir Joshua Reynolds by Kauffman, 1767, at Saltram, Devon. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and transferred to the National Trust in 1957. ©NTPL/Rob Matheson

Kauffman’s father took her to Italy where she studied drawing and painting and visited important collections. She was fluent in several languages and was fêted as a female prodigy. In 1766 Lady Wentworth, the wife of the British ambassador to Venice, took her to London, where she befriended Joshua Reynolds who enthusiastically promoted her career.

Venus Directing Aeneas and Achates to Carthage, by Angelica Kauffman. Exhbited at the Royal Academy in 1769. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and transferred to the National Trust in 1957. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Kauffman was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy. She was keen to paint historical, literary and mythological subjects, which were seen as more prestigious than portraits. 

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Foster by Angelica Kauffman, 1785, at Ickworth, Suffolk. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

Portraits were an important source of income for Kauffman, however. After a brief and disastrous marriage to a conman she married the Venetian painter Antonio Pietro Zucchi in 1781. She ended her life in Rome, where people like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Antonio Canova sought her out.

These paintings can be seen at:


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