Continuity and the Country House: Preservation as a Strategy of Display from 1688 to 1950

Essay by Jonny Yarker

In 1985 the National Gallery of Art, Washington, mounted a blockbuster exhibition: The Treasure Houses of Great Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting. Comprising over 700 objects from British county house collections in the East Wing of the National Gallery and underwritten by the Ford Motor Company, the show was accompanied by a blizzard of publicity and attended by almost 1 million visitors, including the Prince and Princess of Wales.1 The reviews, for the most part, took their cue from the uncritical tone of the catalogue itself: praising English country houses as ‘vessels of civilization’ and ‘temples of the arts’, and their owners as ‘wealthy and privileged, but also well-read and well travelled’.2 Among the dissenting voices was David Cannadine, who, writing in the New York Review of Books, identified a pervasive sense that however scholarly the catalogue entries, the exhibition presented a warped view of the British country house to an international audience.3 For Cannadine the exhibition offered insufficient context, particularly on the sources of income and the power structure of the elite it celebrated. He also voiced scepticism at the central idea that the objects displayed were inherently better looked after in the houses from which they came, pointing out that the installation was a triumph for the role of the museum.

What Cannadine identified and Thompson described are those country houses where the interiors show the accretions of successive generations, rather than a single campaign by one or two generations: in the context of the present project, Doddington Hall rather than Castle Howard. To put it in evolutionary terms, exhibitions such as The Treasure Houses of Great Britain concentrate disproportionately on the mutations. It is a view that endures. Pick up any of the seemingly inexhaustible photographic anthologies of British country houses and you will be familiar with the Treasure House canon, be it Hardwick as the Elizabethan ‘prodigy house’, Holkham the exemplary Palladian palace or Tyntesfield the plutocratic Victorian mansion.

Privileging these exceptional examples overlooks the fact that the country house in the period explored by this project tended to be a conservative space where the strategies of collecting and display were specifically motivated by a desire to emphasise continuity: political continuity, following the ruptures of the seventeenth century; familial continuity, given the importance of the hereditary principal in the parliamentary system; and perhaps most importantly, the continuity of a single family in a single geographical locality. Until the reforms of 1832 political power was vested not only in land ownership but in the ability of landowners to form alliances with, and canvas support from, a coalition of their neighbours. The country house with its contents therefore acted as a campaign headquarters for preferment and position, from major local roles such as the Lord Lieutenancy to lucrative positions at court. This was the ‘business of country house living’.

A desire for continuity naturally engendered an interest in antiquarianism, historicism and ultimately preservation, or even Thompson’s ‘inertia’. Understanding what was left unaltered points to the powerful alternative narrative of display in the British country house. Accordingly, this essay follows examples of country house interiors and collections that were self-consciously preserved, restored, augmented or even completely fabricated to project an idea of continuity.

This interest in preserving the past had the direct result of creating spaces that were not strictly practical for the modern house – spaces that served as repositories for furniture, art works and objects that fell outside the fashionable tastes of the period. This essay therefore encompasses the display of old oak, armour, tapestries and stained glass as well as historical portraiture, rather than the fashionable staples of the picture or sculpture gallery. Many of the elements we associate with modern country house visiting – barriers, static period-focused displays, labelling, guidebooks and an element of historical re-enactment – can be found far earlier than 1945. In this way I also hope to tease out an alternative genealogy for the modern country house visitor experience.

Building continuity

This account begins in the aftermath of William III’s invasion of Britain and the period of relative domestic stability in Britain that it signalled, a period that coincides with a boom in the construction, renovation and decoration of country houses. If we look at the building activities of the seven notable Englishmen who invited the Stadtholder to come to Britain, it suggests that preservation was just as appealing a strategy as magnificent creation. While Chatsworth was being supersized and gilded by William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, and Heythrop Park being built by Charles Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarborough, took the decision to merely renovate his ancient seat, Lumley Castle in County Durham. Sir John Vanbrugh was commissioned to castellate the exterior and to give the elaborate sixteenth-century interior a simpler, more ancient air.

Vanbrugh’s work at Lumley has been viewed by architectural historians such as Giles Worsley as a precocious moment of Gothic revivalism.4 While that is undoubtedly the case, such a teleology has the effect of limiting the agency of the patron and, crucially for this essay, the role the indigenous, inherited collection played in dictating design. Already at Lumley Castle Vanbrugh would have found a remarkable group of late sixteenth-century sculptures and paintings celebrating Richard Lumley’s ancestors, including The Lumley Horseman commissioned by John, Lord Lumley, in about 1580 for the Great Hall (fig. 1). This very large painted oak sculpture was the centrepiece of a complex arrangement of depictions of Lumley’s forebears.5 Underscoring the Elizabethan fascination with the medieval past, the sculpture depicts King Edward III, praised in the illustrated inventory that Lumley compiled as ‘in whose time most of the castle was built’; it was joined by a painting of Adam and Eve and the Lumley ancestors ‘lineally descending from the Conquest unto yor self’ and ending with a portrait described as ‘King Richard the seconde, delivering the wryte of Parliament to Ralphe the first Barron of Lumley’.6 Vanbrugh was evidently required to preserve the Great Hall.7

The Great Hall at Lumley Castle

Figure 1.
The Great Hall at Lumley Castle, Country Life Picture Library (567924).

Digital image courtesy of Country Life Picture Library. (All rights reserved)

In the decades after William III’s accession there was a political imperative by certain noblemen to emphasise their historic right to appoint the monarch. Perhaps the most remarkable – and creative – example of a landowner using their house and collection to make this point was the little explored Thomas Coningsby, 1st Earl Coningsby, and his work at Hampton Court in Herefordshire.8 Thomas Coningsby, like the Lumleys, traced his descent from Saxon nobility, claiming that they had held Coningsby in Lincolnshire until it had been confiscated from John, Lord Coningsby, by King John.9 Coningsby succeeded to his Herefordshire estates, heavily encumbered after the Civil War, in 1671, while still a minor. On coming of age in 1679, he was elected MP for Leominster and the following year voted for the exclusion of the Duke of York. This is the first sign of Coningsby’s pathological support for constitutional rule that would guide both his politics and decorating. Coningsby, who had an active political career in the service of William III and Queen Anne, gave up his parliamentary seat in 1710 and retired to Herefordshire. There he spent much of his energies extending his influence in the county and attempting to limit the power of his political rivals and his close neighbour, Edward Harley and his family.

We know the appearance of Hampton Court in 1699 thanks to a pair of paintings by Leonard Knyff, now in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art.10 Knyff’s views show the medieval house, dominated on its north front by a central entrance tower flanked by chimney stacks and an irregular arrangement of windows (fig. 2). Coningsby could have swept away this block, but instead he went to some pains to retain and even enhance the castellated look, removing the chimney stacks and replacing them with two flanking crenellated towers. Significantly, he left the chapel to the east unaltered, its Gothic windows containing some of the most important fifteenth-century stained glass to have survived in Britain.11

The North Prospect of Hampton Court, Herefordshire

Figure 2.
Leonard Kynff, The North Prospect of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, circa 1699. Oil on canvas, 148.3 × 214.3 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1981.25.390).

Digital image courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Coningsby had inherited a considerable number of sixteenth-century family portraits, which he arranged in the public rooms of the house, commissioning a surprising series of additional works of art to underscore the antiquity of his seat, his own right to dominate local affairs and the legitimacy of the Protestant succession. In the Great Hall he hung a celebrated portrait of King Henry IV, which he assumed to be both period and indigenous to the house.12 Coningsby housed the portrait in an elaborately decorated frame and had it inscribed grandly with its provenance and the claim that Henry IV had laid ‘the first stone of this house’.13 In 1710 he commissioned Godfrey Kneller to produce another depiction of Henry IV for the Great Hall. Painted on a monumental scale, the equestrian portrait shows Henry as Duke of Hereford in medieval costume, spear in hand posed before a view of a town, identifiable as Coventry (fig. 3). Henry IV was a politically potent figure. As Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, he had been invited to usurp Richard II by a powerful parliament, a circumstance that offered political parallels with both the landing of William III at Torbay in 1688 and later the accession of George I. Coningsby highlighted this reading by flanking the chimneypiece with full-length state portraits by Kneller of King William and Queen Mary.14 Henry IV was therefore designed to simultaneously point to the antiquity of Hampton Court and the legitimacy of the Whig revolution by representing an important historical precedent.

1723. Private Collection, Herefordshire.

Figure 3.
Godfrey Kneller, Equestrian Portrait of Henry IV, 1723. Private Collection, Herefordshire.

Digital image courtesy of Private Collection. (All rights reserved)

The accession of George I in 1714 saw Coningsby appointed Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire. In the same year the great antiquary William Stukeley visited him, noting his immersive interest in the past expressed through displays of his family’s genealogy and various historic possessions.15 And yet Coningsby was no harmless antiquarian. Highly belligerent and litigious by nature, he attempted to use the antiquarian research he had sponsored to extend his rights locally.16 In Leominster he attempted to eject freeholders from their properties, arguing that they were his copyhold tenants.17 On being unable to prove his case in chancery, he published a pamphlet maligning the Lord Chancellor and as a result in January 1721 was stripped of the lieutenancies and imprisoned in the Tower of London for six months.

On his release from prison Coningsby commissioned one final picture for the Great Hall from Kneller in which he is depicted with his two surviving daughters against the backdrop of the Tower of London (fig. 4). He proudly holds a copy of the ‘Magna Charta’, inscribed ‘of Henry the Third. This is my birthright purchased with the blood of my ancestor.’ He also added a large inscription and heraldic achievement to the picture explaining that they were the arms of John, Lord Coningsby, ‘who was slain in the battle of Chesterfield in the Barons Wars in the reign of King John’. The portrait thus celebrated the central planks of Whig philosophy: the primacy of Protestantism and a Protestant succession in the form of the Bible, and the supremacy of parliament in the form of the Magna Carta. At Hampton Court every portrait was prominently lettered, usually with the name of the sitter and their relationship to Coningsby himself. Designed to be read by those visiting the house, they reflect the desire of Coningsby to curate and indeed control the visitor’s experience of the house and its myriad contents.

1722. Oil on canvas, 299 × 243 cm. Royal Armouries at the Tower of London (1.68).

Figure 4.
Godfrey Kneller, Thomas Coningsby, Earl Coningsby, and His Two Daughters, with the Tower of London in the Background, 1722. Oil on canvas, 299 × 243 cm. Royal Armouries at the Tower of London (1.68).

Digital image courtesy of Royal Armouries at the Tower of London. (All rights reserved)

Moving pictures

Aristocratic women, as well as their male counterparts, were central to narratives of continuity. While all but a handful of titles – and estates – passed through the male line, the genealogy of patrician women could confer status on their husbands and crucially their offspring, particularly when the male line failed. Henrietta Holles was the effective heiress to both the Holles family, Earls of Clare, and the Cavendish family, Dukes of Newcastle. She, in turn, married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford, son of Lord Coningsby’s old rival.18 Widowed in 1742, Henrietta retired to Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, the historic house of the Cavendishes, which she found ‘in allmost Ruines’. She dedicated the remaining years of her life to restoring it, principally in the Gothic manner. Walpole, for one, was ecstatic at the result: ‘It is impossible to describe the bales of Cavendishes, Harleys, Holleses, Veres and Ogles: every chamber is tapestried with them; nay, and with 100 other fat morsels; all their institutions inscribed, all their arms, crests, devices sculpted on chimneypieces of various English marbles in ancient forms – mostly ugly.’19 In widowhood Henrietta Holles became, by default, the effective curator of the vast collection of family portraits that she had inherited, providing them with a suitable backdrop.

Portrait collections were not always static and there was a thriving market for historical pictures. The Lumley portraits came up for sale twice during the eighteenth century, and other dispersals enabled others to form collections of historic portraiture. In 1755 Thomas Barrett-Lennard, a keen antiquary, became the 17th Baron Dacre on the death of his mother, inheriting a title that had been in continual usage since the fourteenth century. He also relocated to Belhus in Essex. However, since his mother and her sister had dispersed much of the Lennard patrimony, Lord Dacre had almost no pictures and as a result expended significant energy in reassembling a suitable group of portraits for Belhus. In 1739 he acquired from his aunt, Lady Barbara Skelton, then living in Paris, portraits of ‘Thos. Fynes Lord Dacre by Holbein, Henry Lennard Lord Dacre by Van Dyke, Samson Lennard and Margaret Fynes, two pictures on boards by Corn Johnson or at least I believe so. Francis Lennard & his wife in one picture, a capital picture by Sir Peter Lilly, and a large picture of Vendome.’ He also purchased historic family portraits from his stepfather, including ‘the Picture of Henry Lennard, Lord Dacre a whole length and the picture of Mary wife of Thomas Fynes Lord Dacre a quarter length by Lucas de Heer’.20 The last named is the exceptional portrait that depicts Lady Mary Neville, Lady Dacre and her Son and is now attributed to Hans Eworth (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa).21 In addition to rebuilding a collection of his ancestors, Lord Dacre received as a gift from his stepbrother his mother’s portrait by Thomas Murray, noting: ‘I sent them to Belhouse immediately on my becoming possessed of them in order to compleat the series of original pictures of my Ancestors there.’20 Dacre turned Belhus into a studied celebration of his ancient family. He hung the panelled hall with armour (fig. 5), introduced heraldic badges into new Gothic fireplaces and Dacre beasts onto the newel posts of a neo-Elizabethan stair, lined rooms with seventeenth-century tapestry and introduced important fifteenth- and sixteenth-century stained glass from Herstmonceux Castle.

Country Life Picture Library (536726).

Figure 5.
View of the Hall at Belhus, Country Life Picture Library (536726).

Digital image courtesy of Country Life Picture Library. (All rights reserved)

Belhus lost its contents in 1923 and was demolished in the 1950s. Yet images of its interiors immediately call to mind the rooms created by Walpole at his miniature Gothic castle, Strawberry Hill.23 Walpole’s staircase sports carved antelope finials, like those at Belhus, while Walpole arranged his hall with armour, ‘old coats of mail, Indian shields made of rhinoceros’s hides, broadswords, quivers, long bows arrows spears’. And, as at Belhus, Walpole decorated rooms with Gothic tracery. In this context Strawberry Hill can be viewed as a self-conscious simulacrum of an English country house, inflected with humour. Walpole was too knowing and perhaps too conscious of lacking what Thomas Barrett-Lennard possessed in his genealogy and patrimony to ever consider seriously restoring an ancient house. Instead Walpole, as an inveterate country house tourist, created a series of interiors that presented the country house experience in miniature. He went as far as developing a public tour including rooms such as the Holbein Chamber, which purported to be for sleeping but was in fact for display, housing, as it did, a miscellany of Tudor relics. For those not shown round the house by its creator, he produced a guidebook that acted as a corrective to all the misinformation given to visitors by ill-informed housekeepers.24

‘Gothic it was, and more Gothic it will be’: preserving the fabric of the paternal castle25

In an oft-quoted passage from the journal Common Sense published in 1739 an anonymous writer noted of the rise of Palladianism:

But, independently of the Expence and other ill Consequences of this modern Taste, I own I am always griev’d to see the venerable Paternal Castle of a Gentleman of an antient Family, and a competent Fortune, tasted and dwindled down into an imperfect Imitation of an Italian Villa … Methinks there was something respectable in those old hospitable Gothick Halls, hung round with Helmets, Breast-Plates, and Swords of our Ancestors; I entered them with Constitutional Sort of Reverence, and look’d upon those Arms with Gratitude, as the Terror of former Ministers, and the Check of Kings. Nay I even imagin’d that I here saw some of those good swords, that had procured the confirmation of Magna Charta, and humbled Spencers and Gavestons.26

As the century progressed, the reverence for the ‘venerable Paternal Castle’ increased and thoughts of rebuilding became less automatic as preservation and renovation became more fashionable. Preservation was a more powerful motivator than is generally admitted in the evolution of interiors, and ‘old hospitable Gothick Halls, hung round with Helmets, Breast-Plates, and Swords of our Ancestors’ started to become the anticipated furniture of the English country house.

In his book, Early Georgian Interiors, John Cornforth observed that several earlier houses had been self-consciously preserved during the eighteenth century.27 He drew attention to Cotehele, a manor house on the Tamar that belonged to the Edgcumbe family of Mount Edgcumbe. Although since uninhabited, there is evidence that by the mid-eighteenth century Cotehele acted as a kind of antiquarian outpost for the family, where tapestries, armour and painted glass were displayed along with a collection of early English furniture, ceramics and textiles in a conscious act of antiquarianism. We know the appearance of the house in about 1840 thanks to a series of lithographs made by Nicholas Condy and published in a book dedicated to Ernest, 3rd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. But as Cornforth first suggested, Condy was recording the arrangement of the rooms as they appeared by about 1780. The hall is, indeed, ‘hung round with Helmets, Breast-Plates, and Swords’, although their pedigree is questionable, dating largely from the mid-seventeenth century (fig. 6).28

The Interior of the Hall, Cotehele, Cornwall

Figure 6.
John Buckler, The Interior of the Hall, Cotehele, Cornwall, 1821. Watercolour on paper, 59 × 47.5 cm. National Trust, Cotehele (347622).

Digital image courtesy of National Trust Images / John Hammond (1032787). (All rights reserved)

Upstairs a series of bedrooms were specifically arranged to display historic textiles, including late seventeenth-century tapestries on the walls and exceptionally rare seventeenth-century beds. In the Red Room a red bed covered in passementerie dates from the 1670s (fig. 7),29 and in Queen Anne’s Room a bed of early eighteenth-century proportions and materials incorporates sixteenth-century carved and painted posts, and a seventeenth-century carved headboard. As at Strawberry Hill, these rooms were clearly arranged to be looked at rather than used, not least because they had no closets or dressing rooms, which would have been requisite by this date.30 The air of a sequence of showrooms continues in the drawing room which contained little furniture, save a suite of black ebony chairs, including a settee, similar to those in the Holbein Chamber at Strawberry Hill.31

View of the Red Room at Cotehele, Cornwall

Figure 7.
View of the Red Room at Cotehele, Cornwall, National Trust, Cotehele.

Digital image courtesy of National Trust Images / Andreas von Einsiedel (58530). (All rights reserved)

There are several notable accounts of patrician parties from neighbouring houses making expeditions to Cotehele, including one by Queen Charlotte who recorded in her diary in August 1789:

We … landed at the woods of Cotehill ½ hour after 10 where we found Lrd & Ldy Mount Edgecumbe ready to receive Us. We went in their Coach up to this Old Family seat of theirs where His Ancestors lived at least 200 years before they had Mount Edgecumbe. It did originally consist of 3 Courts, of which there is now but one existing & Consists of a large Hall full of Old Armor & Swords & Old Carved Chairs of the Times, a Drawing Room Hung with Old Tapestry, the Scirtingboard of which is straw, the Chair Seats made of the Priests Vestments … A small Bed chamber. 2 Closets & a Dressingroom all Hung with Old Tapestry. Above stairs there is a Drawingroom. The Chairs Black Ebony Carved & a Cabinet the same. & 4 Bedchambers all Hung the Same.

At Breakfast we Eat off the Old Family Pewter, & used Silver knives Forks & Spoons which have been Time immemorial in the Family & have always been kept at this place.32

This somewhat breathless account is notable because it underscores a strain of country house visiting that was specifically about an active engagement with the past. Queen Charlotte was curious to have an immersive experience of ‘olden times’ and her account is curiously modern, introducing many of the tropes of twenty-first century country house tourism. Cornforth suggests that it was Richard, 1st Lord Edgcumbe, who began this process of curation completed by his grandson, George, 3rd Lord Edgcumbe.33 Their motivation must have been, in part, family piety, preserving the ‘Paternal Castle’ from whence the modern, politically active Edgcumbes originated.

The idea of preserving or even creating a ‘Paternal Castle’ while occupying a more comfortable modern house was surprisingly common during the century. Further west from Cotehele is St Michael’s Mount, a castellated house that was built by Sir John St Aubyn, 3rd Baronet, in the 1720s, filled with armour and oak furniture, and used only in the summer, while the family were principally based nearby at Clowance. John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, created a medieval castle, the Palace House at Beaulieu, Hampshire, making a Great Hall out of the vaulted gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey. In addition, Montagu dug a moat and added a drawbridge, walls and corner towers with pointed turrets.34 This remarkably precocious Gothic project was largely destroyed in the nineteenth century by Arthur Bloomfield’s remodelling of the house. But here was a great Whig magnate venerating, if not his ‘Paternal Castle’, an estate that had belonged to his mother’s family, the Wriothesleys, since the Dissolution. Doddington Hall, one of the case studies featured in the present research project, also fell into this category: an inherited house, ancillary to Seaton Delaval Hall and rather archly historicised in the 1750s with at least two bedrooms decorated with miscellaneous tapestries.

Preserving the ‘false … romance of history’

If at Cotehele the use of tapestries and armour was intended to evoke a nebulous sense of the Middle Ages (‘an old hospitable Gothick Hall’), by the beginning of the nineteenth century a series of historic interiors had been created with very specific historical moments in mind. Hardwick Hall, the great Elizabethan house belonging to the Dukes of Devonshire, made no pretence of being a venerable Gothick Hall. As Horace Walpole noted, ‘the house is not Gothic, but of that betweenity, that intervened when Gothic declined and Palladian was creeping in – rather, this is totally naked of either’.35 As Cotehele acted as an antiquarian outpost to Mount Edgcumbe, so Hardwick functioned, in part, as the repository of the earlier collections of the Cavendish family, while a critical mass of their modern collecting was displayed at Chatsworth.36 At some point in the eighteenth century Hardwick’s interiors had been deliberately arranged to evoke the house as it might have been in the 1570s when Mary, Queen of Scots, was in the custody of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick – something appreciated by tourists.

The poet Thomas Gray visited the house in 1762 and wrote tellingly:

One would think Mary, Queen of Scots, was but just walk’d down into the Park with her Guard for half an hour. Her Gallery [fig. 8], her room of audience, her antechamber, with the very canopies, chair of state, footstool, lit-de-repos, oratory, carpets and hangings, just as she left them, a little tatter’d indeed, but the more venerable; and all preserved with religious care, and paper’d up in winter.37

Room view of the Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Figure 8.
Room view of the Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, National Trust, Hardwick Hall.

Digital image courtesy of Tony Hisgett. (CC BY 2.0)

Gray’s account suggests that the artful arrangement of collections to evoke a celebrated historic resident of a country house had already become a strategy of display, long before the advent of a paying public.

By the time Gray visited, a series of ‘relics’ relating to Mary, Queen of Scots, had been concentrated at Hardwick, including a stone overmantel carved with her initials brought from Chatsworth by the 1st Duke of Devonshire as early as 1690.38 A public route had also emerged that showcased such features of the house as the carved, half-round panel with the arms of the Scots queen installed in a room christened the Mary, Queen of Scot’s Bedchamber.39 The hang in the house specifically celebrated the history of the romantic figure of Mary, Queen of Scots, her captors and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. As the principal players in the drama, they were represented in portraits hung to better tell the narrative to the visitor. A full-length portrait of Mary was housed in a matching frame to a portrait of an Elizabethan woman lettered at the beginning of the eighteenth century ‘Queen Elizabeth’, and these were hung with the famous portrait of Bess of Hardwick and her husbands at the south-west end of the gallery by the 6th Duke of Devonshire between 1811 and 1821.40

All this artful dressing could not conceal the simple truth that Mary, Queen of Scots, had been beheaded in 1587, and Hardwick, begun in 1591, was not finished until 1604. Writing in 1845 in his Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick, William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, described Richard Westmacott’s sculpture of Mary Queen of Scots that he had installed in the hall at Hardwick: ‘She is a false sign of the romance of history: she represents popular belief and tradition in defiance of dates and facts; and the delusion of my youth must be abandoned that I lived in a house furnished and arranged “just as Mary left it”.’41 What Walpole decried as ‘betweenity’ was soon regarded as embodying a golden age, and as the nineteenth century progressed, other Elizabethan houses were carefully organised to suggest an association with an illustrious past.

The first volume of Joseph Nash’s folio Mansions of England in the Olden Time was published in London in 1839. Nash’s publication, which eventually ran to four volumes, was a hugely important celebration not of the Gothic but of Tudor secular architecture. All the plates feature historic houses peopled by figures in historical costume going about their historical business and their historical pleasures. In some instances the houses are populated by identifiable historical figures: thus Mary, Queen of Scots, arrives by torchlight at Hardwick and the young Shakespeare, caught poaching deer, is presented to Sir Thomas Lucy at the gate of Charlecote Park, Warwickshire (fig. 9).42

William Shakespeare brought before the Magistrate at Charlecote Park

Figure 9.
William Shakespeare brought before the Magistrate at Charlecote Park, Lithograph, 1841. Joseph Nash, 'Mansions of England in Olden Time'.

Digital image courtesy of Charlecote Park. (All rights reserved)

By the early eighteenth century the story of Shakespeare’s poaching, his banishment from Warwickshire by Sir Thomas Lucy and his subsequent satire of Lucy as Justice Shallow in the Merry Wives of Windsor had become essential biographical facts. During the Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769 many visitors travelled the four miles from Stratford to Charlecote to examine the site of Shakespeare’s deer-stealing escapade.43 In 1820 the American writer Washington Irving, a self-described ‘castle-hunter’, left an account of his visit to Charlecote, where he was disappointed that in the Great Hall ‘the weapons and trophies of the chace, which formerly adorned the hall of a country gentleman, have made way for family portraits’, adding that ‘I regretted to find the ancient furniture of the hall had disappeared; for I had hoped to find … the elbow chair of carved oak, in which the country squire of former days was wont to sway the sceptre of empire over his rural dominions.’44 Irving visited Charlecote on the eve of a major refurbishment undertaken by the house’s new owners, George Hammond Lucy and his wife Mary Elizabeth.

In their overhaul of Charlecote the Lucys were keen to emphasise the Elizabethan heyday of the family and house. This was less an attempt to show historical continuity than to evoke a very specific moment when both the family and the house were closest to the epicentre of national life. Sixteenth-century heraldic glass in the hall was carefully restored and augmented under the guidance of Thomas Willement. The ‘trophies’, if not the weapons, ‘of the chace’ were reinstated and busts of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare and Sir Thomas Lucy introduced. The wealthy George Lucy was highly active on the London art market, making significant and splendid purchases at the Fonthill sale in 1822, including a remarkable pietra dura table housed on a Gothic oak base that became the principal object in the hall.45 The Lucys even reorganised the domestic offices, kitchen and servant’s hall and added a library and dining room designed in an Elizabethan manner.

What marks out Lucy as a collector is that, rather than assembling a miscellany of tapestries, armour and old woodwork to evoke the past, he carefully selected works of art that celebrated the sixteenth century. For his new rooms Lucy also acquired historical furniture, including a remarkable suite comprising eight ebony chairs inlaid with ivory, a day bed and two cabinets, through the picture dealer William Buchanan, who noted that they were ‘made a present of by Queen Elizabeth to the Earl of Leicester, and were formerly at Kenilworth … They cost Queen Elizabeth as history goes 2,000 pieces of gold.’46 This history must have piqued Lucy’s interest. Kenilworth Castle lies 11 miles north of Charlecote, and in August 1572 Elizabeth I spent two nights at Charlecote returning from a stay with Robert Dudley at Kenilworth.

The new furniture was displayed in the library beneath a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which had been purchased by Lucy in 1835, and a portrait of Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, thought by Lucy to be a portrait of his younger brother, Robert (fig. 10). The same year Lucy acquired a portrait of the Empress Isabella of Portugal after Titian from ‘Mr Stanley’s sale’ for £23 10s 6d, it joined a portrait of Henry VIII acquired from Thomas Emmerson in 1824 for £50. Thus, above the Elizabethan revival book presses the visitor had the principal characters in the narrative of the family and history of the objects in the room illustrated.

Country Life Picture Library (519536).

Figure 10.
View of the library at Charlecote, Country Life Picture Library (519536).

Digital image courtesy of Country Life Picture Library. (All rights reserved)

Preserving a sense of place and amplifying the association of a specific person or age remained a powerful motivation for country house owners throughout the nineteenth century. At Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire the Dent family, proprietors of a glove factory, sensitively revived the Tudor range of the great medieval castle. Sudeley, which had been a royal residence for most of the fifteenth century, was gifted by Edward VI to his uncle Thomas Seymour and his wife, the Dowager Queen Catherine Parr. In furnishing their new house, the Dents specifically sought objects that expressed this heady royal heritage. They bought widely at the dispersal of Strawberry Hill in 1842, including The Allegory of the Tudor Succession, a painting by Lucas de Heere depicting Elizabeth’s I’s descent from Henry VIII and apparently presented by her to Sir Francis Walsingham. Further purchases include a letter from Katherine Parr accepting Thomas Seymour’s offer of marriage, a Venetian glass jug mounted with the arms of Parr and the thirty-four tracings of Holbein portrait drawings made by George Vertue in the 1740s that had been the centrepiece of the Holbein Chamber at Strawberry Hill. The Dents collecting was driven by ‘the romance’, false or otherwise, of the history of Sudeley.

Period rooms: the creation of the modern country house

As the nineteenth century progressed, the instinct to preserve was formalised and given official voice. The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts was appointed in 1869 and produced a steady stream of reports of the muniments preserved in British country houses. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was founded by William Morris and Philip Webb in 1877 to oppose what they saw as the destructive ‘restoration’ of historic buildings, forcing a debate about the ethics of preservation. The National Trust was founded in 1895 and the following year acquired their first building, Alfriston Clergy House, which, although not a country house, points to a growing culture of respect for the fabric of historic buildings. The work of preservation was given a powerful forum in the pages of Country Life, founded in 1897 by Edward Hudson. These collective efforts reflected the personal interests of public figures, such as the statesman George, 1st Marquess Curzon, who used his considerable income – derived from his inherited estate, Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, and marriages to two American heiresses – to restore the ruins of both Tattershall and Bodiam Castles, which he bequeathed to the National Trust, and to lease and restore the great Jacobean manor house, Montacute in Somerset.47 Montacute, in turn, was acquired by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings who presented it to the National Trust in 1931, becoming that organisation’s first experiment in opening a country house to the public.

The mid-twentieth century saw the rise of what the architectural historian, John Harris, has described as ‘comfort taste’, where the desire to preserve was tempered by the demands of the modern country house.48 From 1920 Randal, 8th Earl of Berkeley, employed the firm of Keeble Ltd to transform Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire back into the family’s principal residence.49 The decade-long renovation of Berkeley, which involved the importation of medieval masonry from France and Britain, and the removal of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century accretions, significantly saw Keeble Ltd supply a considerable quantity of Jacobean oak furniture to ‘dress’ the ancient house. The family portraits were rehoused in antiquarian frames and historic light fittings were imaginatively electrified to preserve an air of antiquity (fig. 11). Even so, the new interiors, including a walk-in wardrobe behind a linen-fold screen, were avowedly directed at comfort.50 At the same time, a series of country house owners did prefer a more rigorous connoisseurship of the objects displayed, in terms of their relationship to architecture and interior decoration and most crucially the narrative they presented to the increasingly ubiquitous visitor.

Country Life Picture Library (838842).

Figure 11.
View of Berkeley Castle, Country Life Picture Library (838842).

Digital image courtesy of Country Life Picture Library. (All rights reserved)

In 1922 Clive Pearson, second son of the industrialist and engineer Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray, acquired Parham House in West Sussex from Mary, 17th Baroness Zouche. The house, acquired to give a suitable rural base for hunting and polo as well as entertaining, was duly arranged and decorated observing the principles of ‘comfort taste’, becoming the weekend retreat of a wealthy businessman and his family. Following the Second World War, during which time the estate was requisitioned, Pearson and his wife, Alicia Knatchbull-Hugessen, faced the problem, common to other owners of historic properties, of how such a large house could function in the face of labour shortages and post-war economic austerity. Guided by the historian Rupert Gunnis, the Pearsons decided to reorganise Parham and open it to the public. This reorganisation took the form of curating a series of historic interiors, arranged chronologically and telling the simultaneous story of the house and its residents, British history, and the development of the decorative arts, particularly needlework.

From the outset the Pearsons were unusually sensitive to the history of the house. Having acquired ninety-three of the original Zouche portraits in 1922, these were augmented by the acquisition of a further eleven in 1948 as well as an additional series of purchases.51 As a result, the Great Hall was turned from a sitting room into a gallery of sixteenth-century portraits. It was here that the public tour began, as well as the story of the early inhabitants of the house (fig. 12). The centrepiece of the hall was the remarkable 1610 portrait by Robert Peake of Henry Prince of Wales acquired at the St Donat’s Castle sale in 1946.52 From the Great Hall visitors passed into the Great Parlour, where the Pearsons inserted a new Elizabethan plaster ceiling and displayed full-length portraits by Daniel Mytens of Charles I and his sister, the Winter Queen, acquired in 1948 from Lord Wharton. Next to the Winter Queen hung a small portrait by Gerrit van Honthorst of her husband that was indigenous to Parham. To complete the story of the early Stuart court, the Pearsons hung depictions of Queen Henrietta Maria, her brother King Louis XIII, and his wife Anne of Austria by Frans Pourbus the Younger. The Pearsons favoured sitter over artist and took full advantage of the post-war dispersals to acquire works to flesh out their intended narrative.

View of the Great Hall at Parham

Figure 12.
View of the Great Hall at Parham, Parham House.

Digital image courtesy of Rob Tomlinson. (All rights reserved)

The public route then took the visitor upstairs to the Great Chamber (fig. 13). In 1924 this had become Alicia Pearson’s bedroom, but it was needed as a space to display the seventeenth-century needlework bed that had been acquired from Wroxton Abbey and so was repurposed as a historical bedroom. The room was hung with four early seventeenth-century portraits of members of the Dering family. Even more drastic was the removal of the adjoining bathroom, inserted for ‘comfort’ in the 1920s and Clive Pearson’s connecting bedroom. These became in turn the Tapestry Ante-Room devoted to the reign of Charles II, and the West Room where a frieze of seventeenth-century portraits of members of the Bysshop family hung above a remarkable series of point d’Hongrie panels that had been acquired from Quenby Hall in Leicestershire. The eighteenth century was concentrated in the Green Room, which contained Joshua Reynolds’s great portrait of Sir Joseph Banks and his connections, again purchased because of Banks’s relation to Alicia Pearson’s Knatchbull-Hugessen ancestors.53

View of the Great Chamber at Parham

Figure 13.
View of the Great Chamber at Parham, Parham House.

Digital image courtesy of Rob Tomlinson. (All rights reserved)

Thus, in a sequence of contrived spaces, the visitor was led from the sixteenth through to the early nineteenth centuries: the rooms were arranged not to be lived in but as displays telling a multivalent narrative, following contemporary museological thinking. At precisely the same date the Pearsons were at work, Sir Leigh Ashton set out at the Victoria and Albert Museum a succession of period rooms.54 In this way Parham offered an important model for the way country houses could be transformed into visitor attractions.

In the post-war period, as families retreated into smaller apartments, the need to organise a public route, its content and its narrative became more pressing. Gunnis seems to have been a significant figure. At Penshurst Place he advised on the conversion of a series of pantries into the Nether Gallery, which became a space to display a collection of historic armour and end the public tour. At Castle Howard he advised George Howard on the restoration of the house: a visitor route with themed hangs recounting the patronage of successive Earls of Carlisle emerged and has endured.55


A remarkable continuity of purpose links Lord Coningsby at Hampton Court with the Pearsons at Parham. Coningsby crenellated his medieval house, enhanced his inherited collections and used paintings to assert a narrative to the visitor about the legitimacy of the Protestant succession and his own legitimacy to govern. At Parham the interiors were arranged ostensibly to tell the story of the house itself, its early owners and the period in which they lived. But a powerful aspect of this narrative was the legitimacy of the Pearsons themselves to own the house and its collections. The display of Knatchbull-Hugessen portraits underscored Alicia Pearson’s pedigree, while the purchase of a group of portraits of the Dering family at the auction of Surrenden Dering in 1928 brought to Parham a series of period portraits that complimented the indigenous collection. The fact that a seventeenth-century Dering had married a Knatchbull transformed them from historical portraits to ancestors. The realisation, in turn, that the Derings were connected to the Bysshop family brought legitimacy to the new owners of Parham.

Here is the continuity that seems central to understanding display in the English country house, a continuity that privileges the iconography of the sitter over the artist and the longevity of the family that early pictures represent over the quality of the work itself. It prompts the more complex conclusion that much of the value we place on many of the paintings mentioned in this essay lie not in the objects themselves, but in their physical context. This was something understood in the 1940s by a series of visionary figures within the National Trust, chief among them James Lees-Milne. Writing about Montacute, which had been purchased for the National Trust in 1931, he characterised it as ‘an empty and rather embarrassing white elephant’. Periodic attempts to ‘furnish’ the house never satisfactorily succeeded – however outstanding the objects displayed – and it prompted the Trust to seek houses with indigenous collections.

Here we can, perhaps, correct the assumptions of Cannadine and Thompson that the collections found in most country houses are usually ‘a sort of incidental and accidental by-product of the business of country house living’ and see them as intrinsic. This essay has traced a sequence of houses in which highly strategic decisions were made about what to preserve. In turn, showing that decisions about preservation were central to creating the context that lies at the heart of country house studies. A more complex area for the modern historian is the realisation that continuity of ownership still exerts an aura. It still dictates cultural policy, allowing since 1973 for works of art to be given to the nation in lieu of tax and remain in situ. It also explains why the Treasure Houses exhibition told an asymmetrical story, not because works of art looked better in the museum context, but precisely because they had been removed from the vital context of the country house itself.


  • Jonny Yarker is a director of Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd. art dealers based in London. He completed a PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge and has an international reputation as a scholar of British art and the Grand Tour.


  1. For a discussion of the exhibition, see Neil Harris, Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013, pp. 365–98.

  2. Gervase Jackson-Stops, ed., The Treasure Houses of Britain: 500 Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985, pp. 10–11.

  3. David Cannadine, ‘Brideshead Re-Revisited’, New York Review of Books, 19 December 1985, reprinted in David Cannadine, The Pleasures of the Past, London: Collins, 1989, pp. 256–71.

  4. Giles Worsley, ‘The Origins of the Gothic Revival: A Reappraisal’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 3, 1993, pp. 116–17.

  5. For the context of the Lumley horseman, see Susan Bracken and Maurice Howard, ‘Lumley Castle and its inventories’, in Mark Evans and Edward Stourton, eds, The Lumley Inventory and Pedigree: Art Collecting and Lineage in the Elizabeth Age, London, 2010, pp. 29–33.

  6. Mark Evans, ed., The Lumley Inventory and Pedigree: Art Collecting and Lineage in the Elizabethan Age, Roxburghe Club, 2010, pp. 39–41.

  7. Kerry Downes, Vanbrugh, London: A. Zwemmer, 1977, pp. 106–7.

  8. The gradual decline and dispersal of the collections has obscured the importance of Hampton Court. The house passed from Coningsby to his daughter, Frances Hanbury-Williams, who in turn left it to her oldest daughter, Frances, wife of William Capell, 4th Earl of Essex. The house was sold in 1810 to the industrialist John Arkwright, some of the contents were removed to Cassiobury in Hertfordshire and the remainder stayed in the house. Three articles in Country Life detail the surviving furniture: see Country Life, vol. 30, no. 776, 18 November 1911, pp. 750–52; vol. 30, no. 777, 25 November 1911, pp. 787–9, 791; and vol. 30, no. 779, 9 December 1911, pp. 902–5. There was a house sale in 1925 and again in 1972.

  9. For Coningsby, see Pat Rogers, The Life and Times of Thomas, Lord Coningsby: The Whig Hangman and his Victims, London: Continuum, 2011, pp. 13–30.

  10. For the depictions of Hampton Court, see John Harris, The Artist and the Country House, London: Sotheby’s, 1979, pp. 118–19 and 122, cat. nos 115a & b and 120.

  11. The east window was removed in 1925 and is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. See Madeline H. Caviness, ‘Fifteenth Century Stained Glass from the Chapel of Hampton Court Herefordshire: The Apostles’ Creed and Other Subjects’, Walpole Society, vol. 42, 1968–70, pp. 35–60.

  12. The painting is now at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire, NT515577.

  13. The painting is still lettered: ‘Henry the fourth king of England who layd the first stone of this Hous [Hampton Court, Herefordshire] and left this Picture in it when he gave it to Lenthall whoe sold it to Cornwall of Burford whoe sold it to the Auncesters of the Lord Coningesby in the Reign of Henry the 6th.’ Coningsby’s original frame is illustrated in the Cassiobury Park auction catalogue, Knight, Frank & Rutley, 12 June 1922.

  14. These remained at Hampton Court until the Philips sale, 21 and 22 June 1972, lot 548.

  15. ‘At dinner time, one of the ancient bards in an adjacent room played to us upon the harp, and at proper intervals threw in many notes of the voice, with a swelling thrill, after a surprising manner, much in the tone of a flute.’ Stukeley saw Coningsby’s study where he was shown ‘four or five vast books in manuscript, being transcripts out of the record-offices, relating to his manors, royalties, estates and muniments, which cost him 500l. in writing and fees: many of his galleries and passages are adorned with the genealogy of his family, their pictures, arms, grants, history, &c.’: William Stukeley, Itinerarium Curiosum: Or, An Account of the Antiquities, and remarkable curiosities in nature or art, observed in travels through Great Britain, London, 1776, pp. 72–3.

  16. For an account of Coningsby’s attempt to exercise historic rights in Leominster, see Rogers, 2011, pp. 151–86.

  17. Rogers, 2011, pp. 151–68.

  18. For Holles’s activities as an architectural patron, see Lucy Worsley, ‘Female architectural patronage in the eighteenth century and the case of Henrietta Cavendish Holles Harley’, Architectural History, vol. 48, 2005, pp. 139–62. Henrietta Holles seems to have been consistently interested in early portraiture. It is notable that she was left a portrait of Elizabeth I by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder in 1721 by the great poet Matthew Prior. See Karen Hearn, Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530–1630, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1995, p. 86.

  19. W. S. Lewis, ed., The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, New Haven: Yale University Press, 48 vols, 1937–83, vol. 35, pp. 270–271.

  20. Essex Record Office, Dacre papers, D/DL F13.

  21. Dorothy North, wife of Richard Lennard, 13th Lord Dacre, married secondly Chaloner Chute of The Vyne, Hampshire. As a result a portion of the Dacre portraits hung at The Vyne, where there are still copies of Dacre portraits, including the Ottawa picture.

  22. Essex Record Office, Dacre papers, D/DL F13.

  23. The interiors of Belhus were photographed for two articles in 1920; see H. Avary Tipping, ‘Country Homes Gardens Old & New: Belhus – I’ and ‘Belhus – II’, Country Life, vol. 47, nos 1219 and 1220, 15 and 22 May 1920, pp. 656–62 and 690–6. The contents were dispersed by Alfred Savill & Sons, on the premises, 15 May 1923.

  24. Michael Snodin, ‘Going to Strawberry Hill’, in Michael Snodin, ed., Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, exh. cat., Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2009, pp. 15–57.

  25. W. Croker, ed., Letters to and from Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk, and her second husband, the Hon. George Berkeley, from 1712 to 1767, 2 vols, London: John Murray, 1824, vol. 2, p. 305.

  26. Common Sense, no. 150, 15 December 1739, quoted from Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 9, 1739, pp. 640–41.

  27. John Cornforth, Early Georgian Interiors, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, pp. 224–6.

  28. John Cornforth wrote two significant articles on Cotehele in 1990. See John Cornforth, ‘Cothele House, Cornwall – I’, Country Life, vol. 184, no. 5, 24 May 1990, pp. 52–55 and John Cornforth, ‘Cothele House, Cornwall – II’, Country Life, vol. 184, no. 6, 8 February 1990, pp. 68–71.

  29. Nicola Gentle, ‘An Astonishing Survival: The Bed in the Red Room at Cotehele, Cornwall’, Furniture History, vol. 50, 2014, pp. 37–51.

  30. Cornforth, 2004, pp. 225–6.

  31. There was a persistent belief during the eighteenth century that ebony seat furniture, probably early eighteenth century and from India, was sixteenth century and British. See Clive Wainwright, ‘Only the true black blood’, Furniture History, vol. 21, 1985, pp. 250–7.

  32. Quoted in John Cornforth, ‘Cothele House, Cornwall – II’, Country Life, vol. 184, no. 6, 8 February 1990, p. 68.

  33. John Cornforth, ‘Cothele House, Cornwall – II’, Country Life, vol. 184, no. 6, 8 February 1990, p. 71.

  34. John Cornforth, ‘The First Gothick Chairs?’, Country Life, vol. 187, no. 31, 5 August 1993, pp. 50–51.

  35. Walpole to George Montagu, 1 September 1760, see Lewis, 1937–83, vol. 9, p. 297.

  36. The characterisation of Hardwick as a ‘museum’ house is complex. There is evidence that successive Dukes of Devonshire spent considerable periods of time living in the house during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. A number of significant alterations were made internally. See David Adshead and David Taylor, eds, Hardwick Hall: A Great Old Castle of Romance, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016, pp. 192–207.

  37. Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 4 December 1762: Duncan C. Tovey, ed., The Letters of Thomas Gray, London, 1900–12, vol. 2, p. 267.

  38. Adshead and Taylor, 2016, pp. 197–8.

  39. Adshead and Taylor, 2016, pp. 199–201. John Cornforth, ‘Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire: A Property of the National Trust’, Country Life, vol. 189, no. 34, 24 August 1995, pp. 36–41.

  40. The portrait lettered ‘Queen Elizabeth’ has subsequently been reidentified as Mary Cavendish. See Alistair Laing, ‘Rechristening at Hardwick’, Country Life, vol. 183, no. 10, 9 March 1989, pp. 134–5.

  41. William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, Handbook of Chatsworth and Hardwick, London: privately printed, 1845, p. 186.

  42. Shakespeare’s association with Charlecote began as early as Rowe’s 1709 edition of Shakespeare’s works: ‘[Shakespeare] had … engag’d him with them more than once in robbing a Park that belong’d to Sir Thomas Lucy of Cherlcot, near Stratford.’ Nicholas Rowe, The Works of Mr William Shakespeare … , London, 1709, vol. 1, p. v.

  43. Clive Wainwright, The Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home 1750–1850, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989, p. 210.

  44. Quoted in Wainwright, 1989, p. 213.

  45. For the purchase of the table and other objects from Fonthill, see Wainwright, 1989, p. 217.

  46. Wainwright, 1989, p. 228.

  47. For the history of Montacute, see John Cornforth, ‘The Significance of Montacute, 1931–1981’, Country Life, vol. 170, no. 4397, 26 November 1981, pp. 1854–8.

  48. John Harris, Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvages, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007, p. 81.

  49. The title and estates had separated at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Berkeley Castle had remained largely uninhabited, as the family lived at The Durdans near Epsom, then at Cranford House, Middlesex.

  50. As James Miller has pointed out, the work at Berkeley became more concerned with comfort after the 8th Earl’s marriage in 1924 to the wealthy Bostonian heiress, Molly Lowell. See James Miller, ‘Berkeley Castle: Gloucestershire II’, Country Life, vol. 198, no. 50, 9 December 2004, pp. 56–61.

  51. For a description of the Pearsons’ work at , see John Cornforth, ‘Parham Park Revisited – I’, Country Life, vol. 177, no. 4581, 6 June 1985, pp. 1566–70, and John Cornforth, ‘Parham Park Revisited – II’, Country Life, vol. 177, no. 4582, 13 June 1985, pp. 1658–62.

  52. Catherine MacCleod, The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, London, 2012, pp. 94–5.

  53. Banks had married Dorothea Hugessen whose sister, Mary, married Sir Edward Knatchbull, 8th Baronet. The Banks material and related Knatchbull portraits had been acquired by Clive Pearson’s father, the 1st Viscount Cowdray, in 1918. The Pearsons continued to purchase related material, only securing the paintings by George Stubbs of a Kangaroo in 1970.

  54. For a discussion of Leigh Ashton at the Victoria and Albert Museum, see Christopher Wilk and Nick Humphrey, eds, Creating the British Galleries at the V&A: A Study in Museology, London: V&A Publications, 2004, pp. 17–20.

  55. George Howard and Rupert Gunnis, Castle Howard, York: Castle Howard Estate, 1961, passim.



by Jonny Yarker
20 November 2020
Thematic Essay
CC BY-NC International 4.0
Cite as
Jonny Yarker, "Continuity and the Country House: Preservation as a Strategy of Display from 1688 to 1950", Art and the Country House,