The Portrait of the Family of Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor at Mount Stuart

Essay by Edward Town

The Henry VIII Room at Mount Stuart is home to six English paintings of the sixteenth century, including the eponymous portrait of that infamous monarch (fig. 1). Much like the large four-poster bed, the hang is a confection, cobbled together from various sources to form an interior somewhat at odds with an otherwise cohesive house. In their current arrangement, the contents of the Henry VIII Room speak more to Mount Stuart’s role as a ‘collection of collections’ rather than any one moment of concerted acquisition in the long history of the Crichton-Stewart family. Yet such are the riches of Mount Stuart that there is one picture in particular that has an important if unappreciated place in the history of British art. Although this picture has been published and exhibited in the past, this is the first time it has been the subject of focused examination.

Henry VIII Room at Mount Stuart

Figure 1.
Henry VIII Room at Mount Stuart, Photograph. The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart.

Digital image courtesy of The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart / Photo: Keith Hunter. (All rights reserved)

What follows here is not intended as a definitive record of this painting but a discussion, which in turn invites a broader reflection on the place of Tudor painting within the realm of country-house studies. Ancestral portraits play a powerful role in country houses and being able to demonstrate one’s credentials by gesturing towards a portrait of an illustrious Tudor relative has always saved on time and explanation when rattling through a family history. For the Crichton-Stewarts the portrait of Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor (1543–1575), his wife Katherine de Vere, his four sons and an unidentified sixty-one-year old woman (fig. 2) signposted one of the major sources of the family’s wealth: the Glamorgan estates acquired by marriage into the family of the Barons Windsor (later Viscounts Windsor) in 1776.

1568. Oil on panel, 94 × 123.8 cm. The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart.

Figure 2.
The Master of the Countess of Warwick (Arnold Derickson?), Edward, 3rd Baron Windsor (c.1532–1575), his Wife Katherine de Vere (1538–1600) and Family, 1568. Oil on panel, 94 × 123.8 cm. The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart.

Digital image courtesy of The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart / Photo: Keith Hunter. (All rights reserved)

Using paintings as ‘signposts’ has often been the way in which sixteenth-century portraiture has been treated in Britain over the centuries: as an illustrative date on a wall, with little heed to whether the costume, likeness or inscriptions on the painting match those of the purported sitter. In any case, pictures could be doctored when required, an inscription added or a date changed, and attributions could be suggested without too much agonising over their accuracy. The consequence of such an approach has been the accumulation of a mountain of misinformation. Take for example the monogram HE which can be found on more than fifty Tudor portraits dating from 1549 to 1573. For centuries this was wilfully misread as HB and taken to be the monogram of Hans Holbein the Younger (d. 1543), an artist who did not claim authorship for his work using a mark or signature. In the eighteenth century, George Vertue attributed the monogram to Lucas de Heere (c.1534–1584), a painter and poet from Ghent active in England between 1567 and 1576 but to whom no portraits can currently be ascribed. Finally, in the early twentieth century Lionel Cust correctly identified HE as the monogram of Hans Eworth (fl. 1540–73), an Antwerp-trained painter who arrived in England around the time of Holbein’s death, no doubt with a mind towards becoming his successor as the leading painter at court.1

As David Piper observed, following Cust’s discovery, ‘from 1913 to 1960 accordingly, many pictures of reasonable quality, monogrammed or not, tended to be called Eworth’.2 This was the fate of the unusual family portrait at Mount Stuart that depicts Edward Windsor and his family. The painting is dated 1568 and attributed to Eworth by a label on the frame, which probably dates from about 1950 when the painting was moved to Mount Stuart from Cardiff Castle.3 The painting was recorded by Edward Donovan in his 1804 description of Cardiff Castle as ‘a strange-looking picture, attributed to Hans Holbein, A.D. 1568, in which are represented four boys playing at cards and chess, with the father, mother, and grandmother overlooking them’.4 At this point the painting hung alongside portraits of the family of John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute (1744–1814), his wife Charlotte Jane Windsor (1746–1800) and her Clavering relatives. It was Charlotte’s father, Herbert Windsor, 2nd Viscount Windsor (1707–1758) who inherited Cardiff Castle from his mother (also Charlotte), the daughter and heiress of the 7th Earl of Pembroke. The picture in question must have come into this branch of the Windsor family when Ursula Widdrington (1647–1717), the second wife of Thomas Hickman-Windsor, 1st Earl of Plymouth (c.1627–1687) divided the estates between the children from her husband’s first marriage (who continued as Earls of Plymouth) and her own children by the first earl (who were ennobled as the Viscounts Windsor).

In The English Icon of 1969, Roy Strong made a new attribution of this portrait to an artist he named ‘The Master of the Countess of Warwick’, a painter he identified as responsible for eight portraits of court elites, seven of which were dated with inscriptions to the years 1567–69. Strong described this artist as ‘an unidentified primitive painter working in the sixties in the manner of Eworth’ named in relation to the portrait of Anne Russell, Countess of Warwick at Woburn Abbey.5 Since the publication of The English Icon a number of other portraits by this artist have appeared, all dating to the second half of the 1560s, and like the initial group outlined by Strong, all come from the highest echelon of Elizabethan society. So here was a court painter who became, at least for a short while, immensely fashionable and, if survival rates are to be trusted as indicative of activity, was both more prolific and successful than his arguably more talented counterpart Eworth during the final years of the 1560s. His success marks an important moment in the history of Elizabethan painting, when for the first time since the death of Holbein the Younger in 1543, courtiers appear to have been engaged enthusiastically with portraiture. It came at a time when faultlines of political stability were beginning to open and the nation slid towards isolation from much of mainland Europe. Remarkably, the Elizabethan regime weathered the storm and re-emerged, phoenix-like, in the early 1570s in a distinctly English and idiosyncratic guise of self-presentation. For although this artist’s career seems to have been short, possibly curtailed by a debilitating illness or sudden death in about 1570, it paved the way for the success enjoyed by two native-born painters: George Gower (c.1537–1596) and Nicholas Hilliard (c.1547–1619), who, working in oils and miniature respectively, came to prominence at around the time that the ‘Master of Countess of Warwick’ fades from view.

Some years on, Strong tentatively identified the Master of the Countess of Warwick as Nicholas Lizard (d. 1571), a painter of French extraction active as a decorative painter at court from about 1530, who often worked in collaboration with the Italian painters Bartolomeo Penni and Anthony Toto, the latter of whom Lizard succeeded as Serjeant-Painter in 1554. A gift at New Year to Mary I of a ‘table painted with the Maundy’ and a gift in 1559 to Elizabeth I of a picture of the story of Ahasuerus suggests that Lizard was capable of producing portable paintings in his own right but there is no evidence that he, or any of the sons that went on to establish a dynasty of decorative painters, ever operated as portraitists. Yet Strong’s instincts were correct in identifying the influence of Eworth in this artist’s work, and surviving paintings show an effort to convey the same pious introspection that Eworth achieves with clenched hands and severe demeanours, albeit with less success. Attempts to replicate the effects of the more established court painter, Eworth, provide clues as to the possible identity of the artist or at the very least the profile of a painter that fits more comfortably than an elderly Nicholas Lizard. His name was Arnold Derickson. A native of Mechelen, he is first recorded in London in 1549 when he was described as a servant (that is, an apprentice or journeyman) to Eworth in Southwark. In June 1558, presumably around the age of thirty, he married a woman called Elizabeth Bettes at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The fact that Derickson was one of three parishioners of St Martin’s who stood bound for the appearance of the painter John Bettes I (fl. 1527, d. 1563) at the Middlesex Sessions Court, implies that Bettes and Derickson may have worked together in Westminster, while the marriage to Elizabeth Bettes in the same year suggests that the two artists may also have been related.6 In 1568 the Returns of Aliens recorded Derickson and his servant Christopher Sowlofe (presumably a Dutchman) as residents of Westminster who attended the Dutch Church at Austin Friars, which indicates that by this point Derickson was operating independently in Westminster and that his workshop was generating enough business to require assistants. His workshop’s location in Westminster would have been the ideal place to catch trade from those attending the Inns of Court or visiting the numerous courtly residences that lined the Strand between Westminster and the City. It is likely that he was the painter named Arnold who received the substantial sum of £4 6s 10d for ‘my lords pycture’ from Sir Henry Sidney’s paymaster in 1565–66, and he may also have been ‘Arnold the paynter’ paid 30 shillings for a picture of Andromeda made for the Office of Revels Christmas performances in 1572–73.7 Ultimately, Derickson emerges as the best candidate for the ‘Master of the Countess of Warwick’ as his documented career shows that he worked under Eworth and then moved from Southwark to Westminster to work either for or alongside John Bettes I, an artist of the previous generation whose extant work shows the strong influence of Holbein the Younger. This helps explain the unique character of this artist’s work, less ‘primitive’ per se but more of a fusion of Flemish and Holbein-inspired elements that created a uniquely Elizabethan mode of representation.

It is difficult to trace the whereabouts of the portrait of Edward Windsor and his family prior to its arrival at Cardiff. A hitherto unpublished inventory recording the contents of the various properties of Edward following his death in Venice on 24 January 1575 cites a number of pictures, none described in sufficient detail to be identified as that at Mount Stuart.8 The properties enumerated in the inventories include Lord Windsor’s main country seat at Bradenham in Buckinghamshire, a property in Islington and a manor at Hewell in Tardebigge near Redditch, Worcestershire (a property acquired as part of the estates of Bordesley Abbey), which became the seat of his descendants the Earls of Plymouth.9 Bradenham had been acquired by his grandfather Andrew Windsor, 1st Baron Windsor (c.1467–1543) and remodelled by his father William Windsor, 2nd Baron Windsor (by 1499–1558) probably around 1542.10 It was at Bradenham in September 1566 that Windsor entertained Elizabeth I on her return from Oxford University ‘in great splendour’, and the inventory of 1576 records that the ‘Quenes chamber’ at Bradenham was furnished with a sumptuous bed of purple satin embroidered on the tester with silver thread depicting Lord Windsor’s coat of arms.11

Unfortunately Bradenham was later sold to another family, who in the seventeenth century created a compact brick-built house that obfuscates the early building. The loss of the Tudor building is lamentable because the inventory of 1576 describes a substantial property equipped with rooms new to the design of the country house, which (unusually for this period) were given over exclusively to the display of paintings and maps. This marks Windsor and his family out as patrons worthy of study, notwithstanding the paucity of material and documentary evidence. For example, in Great Gallery at Bradenham alone, aside from one French table, there were twenty pictures, housed in frames with curtains of green silk, with one deemed of special mention that was covered with a curtain of red and white lawn cloth and one that lacked a cover but was described as a picture of a ‘Coney’ (a rabbit or hare).12 This small piece of detail, recorded by otherwise disinterested inventory-makers, raises the tantalising possibility that Lord Windsor owned a copy of Dürer’s famous Young Hare (Albertina, Vienna), perhaps resembling something akin to the copies made by Hans Hoffman of Nuremberg a decade later (fig. 3). This is impossible to prove but, whatever the case, it hints at a level of sophistication in collecting a cut above the average Tudor elite, and an engagement with the continental Renaissance. Even the valuation of the paintings, which in this period was often depressingly meagre, at £10 (just over 9 shillings each) points towards pictures of quality. In the next room, described as the ‘little Gallery’, there were twelve pictures in frames (40 shillings), five maps and a picture of a ‘Kechen Mayed’ (valued together at 10 shillings). The portrait of the kitchen maid was probably a ‘Larder’ piece – a Flemish painting acquired abroad, something similar to the work of Pieter Aertsen (fig. 4), and suggests a taste for a type of domestic interior that is gestured at in the Windsor family painting. This is given fuller articulation in the group portrait of William Brooke, Lord Cobham, his wife Frances Newton and their family made in 1567 by the same unknown artist (fig. 5), which in turn takes inspiration from works such as Pierre de Moucheron (1508–1567), his Wife Isabeau de Gerbier, their Eighteen Children, their Son-in-Law Allard de la Dale and their First Grandchild, 1563 (fig. 6).13 Elsewhere, in the house at Hewell there were two pictures in the Great Chamber ‘of my lord and my lady’ at 2s 6d each, while at Islington in Lady Windsor’s chamber there were two further pictures ‘in Tables’ (that is, on panel), presumably of the same sitters, valued at a shilling apiece. The distribution of pictures makes it clear that the two sequential galleries at Bradenham were the main sites of display, although the whole house was filled with maps on a scale rarely seen in this period.14 It must have seemed as if the whole world was there on view.

  • circa 1585-1590. Watercolour and gouache on parchment, 57 × 49. Barberini Gallerie Corsini Nazionali, Rome (Inv. 224).

    Figure 3.

    Hans Hoffmann of Nuremberg after Albert Durer, Young Hare, circa 1585-1590. Watercolour and gouache on parchment, 57 × 49. Barberini Gallerie Corsini Nazionali, Rome (Inv. 224).

    Digital image courtesy of Barberini Gallerie Corsini Nazionali, Rome. (All rights reserved)

  • 1559. Oil on panel, 127.5 × 82 cm. Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (Inv. 3744).

    Figure 4.

    Pieter Aertsen, La cuisinière, 1559. Oil on panel, 127.5 × 82 cm. Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (Inv. 3744).

    Digital image courtesy of Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. (All rights reserved)

  • 1567. Oil on panel, 91.7 × 120 cm. The Marquess of Bath, Longleat House, Wiltshire.

    Figure 5.

    The Master of Countess of Warwick (Arnold Derickson?), William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham (1527-1567), his wife Frances Newton (d. 1592) (daughter of Sir John Newton) their children and her sister Johanna?), 1567. Oil on panel, 91.7 × 120 cm. The Marquess of Bath, Longleat House, Wiltshire.

    Digital image courtesy of The Marquess of Bath, Longleat House, Wiltshire. (All rights reserved)

  • 1563. Oil on panel, 108 × 246 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (SK-A-1537).

    Figure 6.

    Unknown Artist, Pierre de Moucheron (1508-67), his Wife Isabeau de Gerbier, their eighteen children, their Son-in-Law Allard de la Dale and their first Grandchild, 1563. Oil on panel, 108 × 246 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (SK-A-1537).

    Digital image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

It is acknowledged that about ‘some leading Catholic clans, such as the Barons Windsor, almost nothing is known’.15 So, in the absence of other records, the painting of the Windsor family at Mount Stuart takes on added significance and is the inspiration for this biographical account of Lord Windsor and his wife Katherine de Vere (1543–1600). By marrying Katherine, Lord Windsor improved his family’s standing: her father, John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford (1516–1562) held the premier earldom in England, while her mother, Dorothy Neville, was a daughter of the Earl of Westmorland.16 It is therefore unsurprising to find her name among the ‘Ladyes of honour now beynge at the Courte & abowte London’ following Elizabeth I’s accession in 1558.17 Edward Windsor was a cradle Catholic, born at the dawn of the Reformation as the fifth but eldest surviving son of William Windsor, 2nd Baron Windsor. His family were loyal servants of the Tudors but remained steadfastly faithful to the old religion. Lord Windsor’s grandfather, Andrew, had been Master of the Wardrobe to Henry VIII, and William had served in the office of Lord Pantler of England (a ceremonial office responsible for bread and table linen in the royal household).18 Lord Windsor himself was knighted by the Earl of Arundel following Mary I’s accession in 1553 and fought with sufficient honour at the battle of St Quentin in 1557 to be rewarded by his queen with a chain of gold set with rubies, which he cited proudly in his will.19 Under Elizabeth, his loyalty to the Tudor regime dictated that he pledge himself to her but, as the first decade of her reign wore on, this proved increasingly difficult to sustain. As these two loyalties became more polarised, remaining faithful to his monarch and to Rome took him to places where it was rare for Englishmen to travel. Windsor made two journeys, the progress of which can be traced through the State Papers. The first was from spring 1568 until late 1569 or early 1570; the second lasted from 1572 until his death in Venice in 1576. While abroad, Windsor made persistent statements of fidelity to his monarch and provided the secretary of state, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (1520/21–1598) and Thomas Radcliff, 3rd Earl of Sussex (1525/26–1583) with regular missives enclosing news and intelligence from the Continent. Aside from the inventory mentioned earlier, these form the only aperture into Windsor’s activities and at this distance are difficult to interpret. It is not known what role if any Windsor played in the various political crises of the late 1560s, and in the first instance he appears to have left England with the queen’s blessing. Ostensibly his motivations to travel were straightforward: he sought to remedy a stubborn ailment at the spas at Aachen and Padua (which he described as his ‘deses’ but may have been no more troublesome than gout) but there is no doubt his motivations were determined by his Catholic faith.

Travel was inherently dangerous but in Italy and much of mainland Europe Windsor could celebrate the mass with impunity. So, having sired four sons and two daughters, Windsor sought spiritual solace in mainland Europe. For the journey of 1568 his first surviving letter was written from Leuven on 5 June, noting that he had spent the previous fortnight in Brussels.20 A letter of 6 June to Burghley from Sir Henry Lee (1533–1611), on his own journey to Italy, describes how Windsor had been honourably entertained at Antwerp by Count Ladron, the governor of that town. It was in Antwerp in 1568 that Lee had his portrait made by Anthonis Mor (c.1517–1577), which shows him with his thumb through a pendant ring (fig. 7) in an identical manner to that of Lord Windsor in his portrait (still in the collection of the Earl of Plymouth at Oakly Park; fig. 8), which is also attributed to Mor.21 The shared gesture is understood as a symbol of their friendship: the two were neighbours in Buckinghamshire and were near contemporaries, born within a year or so of each other.

1568. Oil on panel, 64.1 × 53.3 cm. National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 2095).

Figure 7.
Anthonis Mor (Antonio Moro), Sir Henry Lee, 1568. Oil on panel, 64.1 × 53.3 cm. National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 2095).

Digital image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London. (All rights reserved)

Edward Windsor

Figure 8.
attributed to Anthonis Mor, Edward Windsor, undated. Oil on panel, 59.6 × 49.5 cm. Earl of Plymouth, Oakly Park, Shropshire.

Digital image courtesy of Earl of Plymouth, Oakly Park, Shropshire. (All rights reserved)

From Leuven, Windsor travelled to Aachen where he convalesced for most of the summer, leaving for Italy in late August; possibly he followed a similar route to his friend Lee via Cologne and Nuremberg towards Innsbruck where he would have crossed the Alps into the Veneto at Treviso.22 By 6 December Windsor’s party had made it as far south as Naples, where he expressed his desire to sail to Sicily and thence to see the fortifications of Malta described by Windsor as ‘the old ruins of the latte sege bi the turke’, which three years earlier withstood the most famous attempted invasion of the century.23 Windsor would have understood the recent defeat of the Ottoman empire at the hands of a Catholic league as an act of divine providence and as such this journey would have been as much of a pilgrimage of faith as the fact-finding mission he described to his superiors in England.

In Sicily Windsor did his case for credibility back home no harm by getting himself arrested. Indeed, this was grist to his mill, as ‘considering it was in respecte of my sovereign Lady was nothyng unto me, considering I was willing to receive ten times then that, and would not think myself but happy in so doing’.24 Happily, he was released and granted an audience with Ferdinando d’Ávalos, Viceroy of Sicily (1568–71) ‘whom I knew in Ingland’ and who offered Windsor the assistance of his captain of the guard.25 He then made it to Malta where he acquired various plots (plans) of the fortifications which he promised to bring back to Cecil ‘at my coming nearer my country’: these may be the ‘Plan of the fortifications of Malta’ now at Hatfield House (fig. 9). Windsor then stated his intention to return north to take the air at Siena until the end of August and then the baths at Padua, which he thought would stave off the return of his ‘deses’.26 It is not clear when Windsor returned to England but presumably it was some point in 1570, for in May the following year he was made a bencher of the Middle Temple.27

circa 1575. Pen and wash, 35.6 × 47 cm. Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (Cecil Papers and Maps, vol. I, Map 53).

Figure 9.
Plan of the fortifications of Malta, circa 1575. Pen and wash, 35.6 × 47 cm. Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (Cecil Papers and Maps, vol. I, Map 53).

Digital image courtesy of Hatfield House. (All rights reserved)

Given that Windsor’s first surviving letter home was sent on 5 June, he must have left England in mid-May at the latest and, because the first day of the year began in England on 25 March, the aperture in which the painting at Mount Stuart was made is narrowed to a small number of weeks in the spring of that year (25 March to about 15 May). On the face of it this painting appears to have been made immediately prior to his departure for the Continent, to serve as his proxy and a reminder that although he was going to be absent on a long and dangerous journey he was not abandoning his family. But perhaps the more plausible alternative is that the painting was commissioned by his wife Katherine further into the year and was made to demonstrate her new-found status as the head of a young family who lacked a father. By Windsor’s own account, Katherine was a devoted mother.28 She was also a force to be reckoned with, for in 1563 she had challenged the legitimacy of her younger half-brother Edward and half-sister Mary, and with that the future of her father’s estates and the earldom of Oxford.29 This was a bold move as Edward’s wardship (control of the significant estates and their rents) was held by Burghley as Master of the Court of Wards and any challenge to this status quo was a direct affront to his authority and that of the queen. It was swiftly swept aside by Burghley, and years later in panicked exile Windsor was still stricken by the thought that this was held as a grudge against his family.30

What is clear about the painting at Mount Stuart is that Lady Windsor’s likeness was taken from an existing portrait made by the same artist in the previous year (fig. 10). The picture, once at Hampton Court, Herefordshire, is inscribed at top left: ‘Anno. Ætates. suæ. 24/ anno. domini. 1567’. It shows Lady Windsor in an identical pose to that in the Mount Stuart painting, holding the same large architectural jewel with rubies, diamonds, enamelled figures and a large pearl pendant, suspended from a chain round her neck.31 Above this jewel in both paintings is a small diamond jewel worn just below the neck which must be the ‘little crosse of goulde hanging thereat sett with aleaven diamondes’ promised to his wife in the first iteration of Lord Windsor’s will.32 This portrait was probably similar if not identical to that of Lady Windsor recorded as one of the ‘It[em] ij pyctures of my lord and my lady’ at Hewell in the inventory of 1576.33 One would expect there to have been a pendant portrait of Lord Windsor to that of his wife, possibly also made in 1567 by the same artist. In April 2018, a fragment of a painting of an unknown man matching the likeness of Lord Windsor in the Mount Stuart portrait appeared at auction (fig. 11), which looks to date from the mid-1560s but is by a different hand from that of the portrait of his wife of 1567, and not necessarily the prototype for the family portrait in the painting at Mount Stuart.

1567. Oil on panel, 47.1 × 35 cm. Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire.

Figure 10.
The Master of Countess of Warwick (Arnold Derickson?), Katherine de Vere, Lady Windsor (1538-1600), 1567. Oil on panel, 47.1 × 35 cm. Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire.

Digital image courtesy of Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire. (All rights reserved)

undated. Oil on panel, 29.6 × 25.4 cm. Private Collection.

Figure 11.
Attributed to the Circle of Steven van der Meulen, Portrait of a gentleman, bust length, with a jewelled hat (a fragment), undated. Oil on panel, 29.6 × 25.4 cm. Private Collection.

Digital image courtesy of Bonhams. (All rights reserved)

The fact that at least one of the portraits in the painting at Mount Stuart was adopted from an existing painting goes some way towards explaining why the painting has a strange quality, while Windsor’s absence abroad might explain why his wife assumes a central position in the composition, with her children arranged by age below and cared for by woman who rests her left hand on young Andrew’s shoulder. This gesture presumably denotes her role as the children’s guardian or governess. The education of the Windsor children was important to their parents and the painting shows the eldest boys playing chess, a game recommended by Thomas Elyott in his 1531 treatise A boke named the Gouernour, on education as a means by which to improve wit and memory.34 By the time that Lord Windsor died there were four sons and also two daughters, Margaret and Katherine, who were either not yet born in 1568 or were ignored in this painting. Whatever the case, this sizable number of children required appropriate provision and the inventory of 1576 record a ‘schole house’ at both Hewell and Islington. At Hewell there was a schoolmaster’s chamber, and at Islington between the nursery and the school house there was accommodation for ‘Mres Bridgehouse’, who also enjoyed the use of a small gallery that ran off this room. Could this be the identity of the sixty-one-year old woman in the painting at Mount Stuart? Without further information it is impossible to say for certain but the otherwise anonymous Mistress Bridgehouse fits the profile well enough. Her portrait is the only one in the group where there is a strongly visible underdrawing (fig. 12) which appears to be in a dry-drawing medium and suggests that the likeness was taken in a different manner from the other portraits of the adults, that is, possibly from the life and specifically for this unusual group portrait.

1568. Oil on panel, 94 × 123.8 cm.

Figure 12.
Infra-red Reflectogram detail of underdrawing of Edward, 3rd Baron Windsor (c. 1532-1575), his wife Katherine de Vere (1538-1600) and family, 1568. Oil on panel, 94 × 123.8 cm.

Digital image courtesy of Jessica David. (All rights reserved)

The timing of Lord Windsor’s departure to the Continent in spring 1568 coincided with significant events at home. After the murder of her husband Henry, Lord Darnley in 1567, Mary Stuart fled to England in May 1568, forcing the issue of Elizabeth’s unresolved succession and raising hopes of a coup that might instate the Catholic Queen of Scots on the English throne. The political instability of that year was followed in 1569 by the Revolt of the Northern Earls, an uprising led by Katherine de Vere’s cousin Charles Neville, 9th Earl of Westmorland (1542–1601). The year 1570 saw the excommunication of Elizabeth I by Papal Bull in 1570 and with the 1571 Ridolfi plot another attempt to marry Mary Stuart to the Duke of Norfolk and oust Elizabeth from the throne. Although Windsor had returned to England by this point it is difficult to follow his movements during these two years or to know what role, if any, he played in these events. Yet the reprisals towards Catholics in the Parliaments of 1571 and 1572 appear to have convinced him that the remainder of his life should be spent abroad. In December 1572 he made his will, setting his affairs in order to ensure the safe passage of the barony and estates to his eldest son, mindful that he might never see his family again.

By June 1573 Windsor was back at Aachen from where he sent a ‘lewd book’ critical of the governance of England, with the continued promise to act as an agent for the regime from abroad. He proudly claimed that he would ‘never be found a blab, or utter of matter of state, but [be] as sure as a column of marble, for in that consisteth true nobility’. This solicited an angry response from Elizabeth and seems to have sealed Windsor’s permanent exile from England and by September he had determined not to return to England.35 In June he had made the amendment to his will, stating his desire ‘to be buried in the Cathedral Church of the noble Cittie of Leage and to have a convenient tombe to be made in tokenne of some remembrance & my harte to be enclosed in Leade and sente into Englande to be buried in the Chappell of Bradenhame under the tombe of my Lorde and ffather in tokenne of a trewe englisshe man’. He then bequeathed his cross of diamonds that had been promised to his wife to Elizabeth I, as a reminder to his sovereign that ‘in my life tyme I lyved to dye with demonstracon to fight under the same Banner nexte to offer my Bodye to be ymployed in anye her Maiesties service’.36

All this was to be in vain. In May 1574, five months had passed since Windsor had last received a response to one of his letters to the court.37 Resigned to his fate, he spent the final year of his life in Venice. Like a Tudor equivalent of Evelyn Waugh’s Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, there he was known as the ‘English Lord’ and was treated with affection by local Catholics. The same could not be said for Protestants, who approached the exiled baron with extreme suspicion. For example, when in 1574 Wolfgang Zündelin (1538–1614) learnt that his young protégé Philip Sidney (1554–1586) had stayed at the Windsor household in Venice, he wrote to Sidney indignant that ‘I heard that you were enjoying the hospitality of your friend the Baron, and to seek you out in such an unfamiliar place was more than I dared’.38

The following year Windsor died. In a letter to Sidney on 3 February 1575 Don Cesare Carrafa described how

in twelve days of a wicked fever, it has pleased God to draw [him] unto Himself . . . And since he left me in Charge of his body and of his other effects, I have had him buried, with so much pomp and with so much honour that never in this city has a funeral been seen. And I will see that Your Lordship receives a particular account of the form and manner in which the body was conveyed and of the order, by which route it was borne through the city, and the furnishings of the church where he was buried, which is at SS. Giovanni e Paolo.39

Windsor’s sober and classically inspired tomb in Venice serves as permanent reminder of his unusual story: the faithful exile who died far from his home and family. The inventories of 1576 record the ‘Venys Comb Case’ and twelve ‘Venys dishes for fruyte’ kept in Lady Windsor’s study at Hewel, precious mementos of an absent spouse.40 But if anything speaks to this absence it is the portrait at Mount Stuart, made on the eve of a series of political incidents that would shape the nation’s trajectory for decades to come. Had Lord Windsor failed to placate Lord Burghley his lands would have been attainted and with them the Glamorganshire estates that generated the wealth which would be used to build the present house at Mount Stuart.


  • Head and shoulders portrait of Edward Town

    Edward Town is Head of Collections Information and Access at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut. He was a co-author and contributor to Painting in Britain 1500–1630 (British Academy, 2015) and has published numerous articles on artistic production in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including: A Biographical Dictionary of London Painters 1547–1625 (Walpole Society, 2014); “A Fête at Bermondsey—an English Landscape by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder”, The Burlington Magazine, May 2015; and with Juliet Carey and Sarah Bayliss was a co-author on the article “Nicholas Hilliard’s Portraits of Elizabeth I and Sir Amias Paulet”, The Burlington Magazine, September 2018.


  1. Lionel Cust, ‘The Painter HE (“Hans Eworth”)’, The Walpole Society, vol. 2, 1912, pp. 1–44.

  2. David Piper, ‘The Elusive Identity of Eworth’, Country Life, 16 December 1965, p. 138.

  3. The painting’s move followed the 5th Marquess of Bute’s transferral from the castle to Cardiff city in 1947.

  4. E. Donovan, Descriptive Excursions through South Wales and Monmouthshire in the year 1804, 2 vols, London: printed for the author, 1805, vol. 1, p. 251.

  5. Roy Strong, The English Icon: Elizabethan & Jacobean Portraiture, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1969, pp. 107–14.

  6. Edward Town, ‘A Biographical Dictionary of London Painters, 1547–1625’, The Walpole Society, vol. 47, 2014, pp. 35, 71.

  7. The alternative is that this was the painter Arnold van Uden (or Eden), active 1578–83, who lived in the parish of St Anne Blackfriars, where the Office of Revels was located: ibid., p. 182.

  8. British Library Add. Roll 74192.

  9. While attending Parliament at Westminster or conducting business in the capital, Windsor could call on an ancestral claim to the Parliament Chamber at Middle Temple, where he was made a bencher in 1571. There was also a London residence called Windsor Place (on Monkwell Street in St Giles Cripplegate), which was used as a dower house: Charles Trice Martin, ed., Minutes of Parliament of the Middle Temple, vol. 1: 1501–1603, London: Masters of the Bench, sold by Butterworth & Co., 1904, p. 178.

  10. In the 1540s a chantry chapel was added by William Windsor to the church of St Botolph, Bradenham.

  11. At Oxford Lord Windsor was in attendance on the queen when she went to St Mary’s to hear various disputations in civil law. See Elizabeth Goldring et al., eds, John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, p. 672. The stay at Bradenham was from 7 to 9 September 1566: Mary Hill Cole, The Portable Queen, Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, p. 182. For the inventory see BL Add. Roll 74192.

  12. BL Add. Roll 74192.

  13. Karen Hearn, ed., Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530–1630, exh. cat., New York: Rizzoli, 1995, pp. 99–100.

  14. The Great Chamber at Bradenham had 8 maps, the Great Parlour 18, the Little Gallery the aforementioned 5 maps, while at Hewell there were 3 maps in the Groom’s Chamber and 16 maps ‘of Countryes’ in the Wardrobe (this being a room for storage rather than an item of furniture).

  15. Michael C. Questier, Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 5.

  16. This was the second time the Windsors had married into the de Vere family: in 1520, George, the son of the first Baron, married Ursula, the sister of the 14th Earl of Oxford but he died young.

  17. List quoted in Goldring et al., 2014, pp. 107–8.

  18. For Andrew Windsor, 1st Baron Windsor see Steven Gunn, Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 11; (accessed 24 August 2018).

  19. The jewel was bequeathed to his son Frederick, described as ‘my chaine of gould set with rubies which I had of the guifte of the late queen Marye when I came from St Quintens’: NA PROB 11/57/332.

  20. Letter from Lord Windsor to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, 5 June 1568, NA SP 70/104B, f. 34.

  21. Letter from Sir Henry Lee to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, 6 June 1568; for the portraits of Lord Windsor and Sir Henry Lee see Roy Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, vol. 1, London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1969, pp. 190–1.

  22. In doing so he would have followed an established route for English travellers: see A. H. S. Yeames, ‘The Grand Tour of an Elizabethan’, Papers of the British School at Rome, vol. 7, no. 3, 1914, pp. 92–113.

  23. Letter from Lord Windsor to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, 6 December 1568, NA SP 70/104A, f. 19.

  24. Letter from Lord Windsor to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, 16 May 1569, BL Harleian MS 0/6990, f. 80.

  25. Ibid.

  26. Ibid., f. 85. For the letter to the Earl of Sussex, 30 June 1569, see BL Cotton Titus B/VII f. 197.

  27. Trice Martin, 1904, p. 178.

  28. Windsor to Cecil, 6 December 1568, NA SP 70/104A, f. 19.

  29. Alan H. Nelson, Monstrous Adversary: The Life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003, p. 40.

  30. Letter from Lord Windsor to Lord Burghley, 10 January 1574, Hatfield House, Cecil Papers, vol. 159.

  31. The portrait of Lady Windsor was previously thought to be of Lady Jane Grey and was once inscribed below in a later hand: ‘Supposed to be the/ Lady Jane/ Grey’.

  32. Lord Windsor’s first will, NA PROB 11/57/332.

  33. These portraits had been brought from ‘Mr Panffelds’, possibly a member of the Pauncefoot family of Gloucestershire as Thomas Pauncefoot had married Lord Windsor’s sister Dorothea. Pauncefoot Court, Much Cowarne, was acquired by Lord Coningsby in the eighteenth century and this might explain why the portrait of Lady Windsor ended up at Hampton Court, Hertfordshire.

  34. See Jane Eade’s catalogue entry in Tarnya Cooper, ed., Elizabeth I and her People, London: National Portrait Gallery, 2012, cat. no. 29, p. 104, and Jane Eade, ‘Portraiture’, in Anna French, ed., Early Modern Childhood: An Introduction, London: Taylor & Francis/Routledge, 2019, pp. 283–303.

  35. For Windsor’s letters home between 5 July 1565 and 1574 see BL MS Cotton Titus B/II, f. 394. For other Catholic exiles in Italy see Edward Chaney, The Evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural Relations since the Renaissance, London: Routledge, 1998, p. 78.

  36. Lord Windsor’s revised will, NA PROB 11/57/332.

  37. Letter from Lord Windsor to Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, 2 May 1574, BL MS Cotton Titus B/II, f. 394.

  38. Letter from Wolfgang Zündelin to Philip Sidney, 20 June 1574, quoted in Alan Stewart, Philip Sidney: A Double Life, London: Pimlico, 2001, pp. 121–2.

  39. Letter from Don Cesare Carrafa to Philip Sidney, 3 February 1575, in Roger Kuin, ed., The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, vol. 1, pp. 386–7.

  40. BL Add. Roll 74192.



by Edward Town
20 November 2020
House Essay
CC BY-NC International 4.0
Cite as
Edward Town, "The Portrait of the Family of Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor at Mount Stuart", Art and the Country House,