Wollaton portraits and pictures.
By Mr. George Fellows.
In the Central Hall.
Over the fireplace is a small painting of Sir Francis Willoughby, who built the hall in 1580-1588. He was the son of Sir Henry Willoughby, who was killed in the Ket rebellion at Norwich in 1549, and Lady Anne Grey, daughter of the Marquis of Dorset, who afterwards became Duke of Suffolk, and aunt to Lady Jane Grey, the nine days Queen of England. Sir Francis had six daughters, but no son. He married his eldest daughter and heiress Bridget to Sir Percival Willoughby of the house of Eresby, and thus the names of Willoughby and Wollaton continued to be associated. Sir Percival was knighted by King James I. at Worksop, on 20th April, 1603; he represented Notts, in that king's first Parliament.
The large detailed picture of the hall and grounds (temp. William and Mary, 1695) was painted by Siberechts.1 On an easel is a portrait of Henry, fifth Lord Middleton, which was painted in Rome by Blanchet in 1754. He lived chiefly at Birdsall, in Yorkshire, which property came to his father by his marriage with Miss Southby, of Birdsall.
Alongside the front door is a picture of Francis Willoughby, in a blue costume, eldest son of Francis Willoughby, the illustrious natural philosopher. He was created a baronet 7th April, 1677, at the age of ten years, in recognition of his father's services to science. He was a youth of great promise, but died at the age of 21 or 22.
On the opposite side of the door to the foregoing is Cassandra, Duchess of Chandos, a daughter of the philosopher, and therefore sister to the young Baronet last mentioned. She was first cousin to her husband. In 1702, she wrote a history of the Willoughby family, of which one volume is unfortunately lost.
On opposite sides of the hall are two large paintings by Snyder of a boar hunt and bear hunt, and also a stag hunt by Rubens.
At the end of the hall is the full length portrait of Sir Hugh Willoughby "the navigator," son of Sir Henry Willoughby, knight bannerett, whose tomb is in the parish Church. Sir Hugh started in 1553 in a ship called the "Bona Esperanza," accompanied by two other vessels, to explore the Arctic regions, where he and his crew perished, and their frozen bodies were subsequently found by some Russian fishermen.
On the same wall is a portrait of Sir Richard Willoughby, a Judge of the Common Pleas in the reign of Edward III. He married Elizabeth de Mortein and became possessed of the Wollaton estates. The black velvet costume in which he is represented is scarcely characteristic of his time. There is a fine effigy of him on an alabaster tomb in the church at Willoughby-on-the-Wolds, where he is represented in his judicial robes, and the workmanship is so excellent that the effigy was considered worthy of being illustrated in Stothard's Monumental Effigies.
At the end of the hall is a picture by Adrian Van Utrecht of a lady with fruit and a peacock.
There are also pictures by di Tivoli, Luca Giordano and Houdins.
In the hall are the chairs, four in number, that were used by Lord and Lady Middleton at the coronation of Edward VII. and George V.
In the Drawing Room.
The screen, Wollaton Hall.
A portrait of King Charles I. on horseback by Van Dyck or is a copy from one of that artist's pictures. Between this and the window is a small picture of Sir Francis, "the builder," painted by Zucchero2 in 1573, when Sir Francis was aged twenty-six. Opposite is a painting of his first wife, who was a daughter of Sir John Lyttleton of Frankley, Worcestershire.
Over the drawing-room door is a picture of Bridget, the foregoing's eldest daughter, who married in 1607 Sir Percival Willoughby, whose portrait is over the other door; both these portraits were painted by Cornelius Jansen.3
Close by is a full-length portrait of the second Baron Middleton in robes, by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
A lady in a blue dress and red scarf is Elizabeth, wife of the first Lord Middleton. She was daughter and co-heir of Sir Richard Rothwell, Bart., of Stapleford in Lincolnshire, who died in 1729; through her that property came into the family. Painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller.
Sir Thomas Willoughby, second baronet, is represented in a red robe and ermine. He was created Baron Middleton 31st December, 1711, and died in 1729. Painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller.
At the end of the room is a large full-length portrait, by Romney, of the fourth Lord Middleton in peer's robes. This lord, a Mr. Holden and a Mr. Boddam Whetham were great friends, and each had their portraits painted by Romney and interchanged them. The one of Lord Middleton is here, one is at Nuttall Temple, and the other is possibly that on the staircase at Wollaton. The last mentioned, however, had the head and feet of the original painted out and the face and feet of the sixth Lord Middleton substituted by Barber of Nottingham.
On each side of the fourth lord's portrait are pictures of William of Orange and Queen Mary, by Sir Peter Lely.
Above are Letitia Willoughby, sister to the natural philosopher, much lauded by his friend Ray for her virtues and attainments. She married Sir Thomas Wendy, K.B. The corresponding portrait is probably that of Henry Willoughby.
Near the foregoing is an engraving of Queen Anne of Denmark, who, with her eldest son, Prince Henry, stayed at Wollaton Hall in 1603.
There is another engraving representing Frances, daughter of Mary, the widowed Queen of Louis XII. of France, and sister of Henry VIII. by her second marriage with Charles Brandon, Duke of Norfolk. Frances married Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, afterwards Duke of Suffolk, their eldest daughter being Lady Jane Grey. The Duchess of Suffolk subsequently married Adrian Stokes.
A silhouette near the door represents the wife of the fourth baron—she was Georgina Chadwick, of West Leake. After his death she married a Mr. Mundy, of Shipley. His Lordship left her the whole of his personalty much of which she conveyed to her new home to the impoverishment of the fifth lord.
In the Dining Room.
Over the sideboard is a painting of Middleton Hall Warwickshire. This property has been in the blood for 800 years, and from it the title was derived.
The upper picture near the door is Sir Francis Willoughby, the father of the celebrated natural philosopher, who married lady Cassandra Ridgway, daughter of the Earl of Londonderry. Sir Francis was keeper of Dublin Castle at the breaking out of the first Irish rebellion. Lady Cassandra's portrait hangs opposite to that of Sir Francis.
Opposite to the fireplace are portraits of the sixth and seventh Lords Middleton, by Barber of Nottingham. The sixth lord died without issue in 1835, at an advanced age. The seventh lord was in the Royal Navy previous to succeeding to the title and was unmarried.
On the left of the fireplace is the portrait of one of the most illustrious members of the family, Francis Willoughby, the natural philosopher, whom Deering terms "a prodigy of natural knowledge." He was born in 1635, and died 3rd July, 1672, in his thirty-seventh year. In conjunction with his great friend, John Ray, he compiled several standard works on birds and fishes: he was a traveller and a man of wonderful erudition. He was never Sir Francis, as appears on the picture, for, as already explained in connection with his son's portrait in the central hall, he died before any honours were bestowed upon him. He is represented with long light hair and a deep lace collar. The philosopher married Emma, daughter and co-heir of Sir Henry Bernard, knight.
Over the fireplace is Sir Nesbit Willoughby, C.B., K.C.H., by Barber of Nottingham. He saw much active service in the royal navy, became known as the "hero of the Mauritius," and was an admiral of the blue. A paper on this distinguished sailor was contributed to the Thoroton Society's Transactions in 1905 by Lady Middleton.
Hanging over a side-table is a detailed painting of a ford across the river Leen, near Lenton, by Siberechts.
Of three pictures hanging above one another, the bottom one is of Sir Thomas Wendy of Wendy or Hesley Side; the middle one, the third Lord Middleton, by Sir Joshua Reynolds; and the top, the Honourable Rothwell Willoughby, who built and lived at Willoughby House, Low Pavement, Nottingham.
At the end of the room is a large canvas by Snyder, and the room also contains several pictures by Hemskerck and one by Jan Brenghell.
On the Staircase.
A picture of Indian cows, by Siberechts.
A landscape of Nottingham, by Siberechts.
A family group, showing the fifth lord with his wife, who was a Miss Dorothy Cartwright of Ossington, their son Henry, who subsequently became sixth lord and married the daughter of Sir Robert Lawley, and his two sisters, Mrs. Langley, of Wykeham Abbey, Yorkshire, and Lady Scarbrough.
There is an early work of Sir Godfrey Kneller's of a full-length figure of a lady in grey velvet.
A picture of a naval engagement, viz., Lord Howe's celebrated victory over the French on 1st June, 1794, which was presented to the seventh Lord Middleton, who was in that action when in the navy, by Sir Nesbit Willoughby.
On the landing there is a picture of two of the park keepers, by Barber, of Nottingham: one of them is a member of the local family of Chouler.
The painting of the principal staircases is by Verrio or Laguerre.
In the Old Drawing Room upstairs
Is a large picture of women bathing, supposed to be by Primaticcio.4
In addition to the foregoing pictures, there is a well arranged armoury in which the weapons are tastefully displayed, and which contains the cannon taken by "the navigator " to the Arctic regions in the sixteenth century.
(1) Siberechts was brought to England by the Duke of Buckingham; he painted many of the large houses in England, viz., Chatsworth, Longleat, etc. (1627-1703).
(2) Zucchero came to England in 1574. He painted Queen Elizabeth; he lived 1543-1609.
(3) Cornelius Jansen (1593-1662) came to England in 1618, was patronised by James I. but superseded by Van Dyck. He painted the portrait of Charles I. at Chatsworth, the Duke of Buckingham at Welbeck, and Henry, Prince of Wales, at Kedleston.
(4) Primaticcio (1502-1570) was identified with the French Court in the time of Francis I. and II. and Charles IX.