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 firstname.lastname@example.org