Roundhead relic

The Fairfax Jewel, at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland. ©NTPL/John Hammond

At the end of 2009, around the time that the National Trust acquired Seaton Delaval Hall, we also purchased this set of enamel miniatures, dubbed the Fairfax Jewel, which has a historical connection to the house.  The miniatures were painted by Pierre Bordier, a seventeenth-century Huguenot artist.

The purchase of the Fairfax Jewel was funded by generous grants from the Art Fund and Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement.

One of the miniatures in the Fairfax Jewel showing the royalist forces being routed at Naseby. ©National Trust

The enamels were originally set into a gold watchcase which was presented to the Parliamentarian general Sir Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Baron Fairfax, after his victory against the royalist forces at Naseby in 1645. One of the enamels depicts that victory.

One of the miniatures in the Fairfax Jewel showing Fairfax on horseback in front of the battle of Naseby. ©National Trust

The back of it has been painted with Fairfax on his horse Chessnut while the battle rages in the background.

Equestrian portrait of Charles I, by the studio of Van Dyck and a later hand, at Petworth, West Sussex. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Ironically, the way Fairfax is shown is modelled on equestrian portraits of Charles I by Van Dyck – the political divide between Parliament and the King clearly didn’t prevent them from using the same iconography.

The Cabinet at Strawberry Hill.

The Jewel was later owned by Horace Walpole and kept as part of his antiquarian collection at Strawberry Hill. It was subsequently acquired by Sir Jacob Astley, 6th Baronet, recognised as the 16th Baron Hastings in 1841 and who inherited Seaton Delaval. By this time the miniatures had been set into the present plaque.

Sir Jacob Astley, 6th Bt and 16th Lord Hastings, in Van Dyck costume by H.W. Pickersgill. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Astleys had been on the royalist side in the Civil War, but as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Lord Hastings let his historical interests prevail over his family allegiance.

Other posts about Seaton Delaval can be found here.

3 Responses to “Roundhead relic”

  1. Aletta Says:

    Another fascinating post Emile. I love that the miniture is based on the Royal portrait, I wonder if the artist was secretly a Royalist?

    I know it isn’t one of “our” properties but I really, really want to visit that room at Strawberry Hill!

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Interesting thought, but I think the roundheads were just borrowing the cavalier iconography, in the absence of anything more effective. I suppose it shows good Van Dyck had been at projecting images of power and control.

    Soon you will be able to go and see that room at Strawberry Hill, when the restoration is complete. NT employees are allowed to visit ‘other’ historic houses, occasionally… 🙂

  3. Aletta Says:

    If we’ve been very good and eaten all our greens. I await the completion of the restoration at SH with bated breath.

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