‘I was born on the 25th of November 1803 at the beautiful and dearly beloved family seat, Bodlewyddan in the county of Flint in North Wales…’
It was on this very day 209 years ago that our Victorian Mistress of Charlecote, Mary Elizabeth Lucy (nee Williams), was born. We know so much of her because she was a great writer and wrote down many stories and details of her life. Her memoirs have been published in a book and we are fortunate to be able to wander around the home that she remodelled with her husband, George.
MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, a 19th-century miniature by Richard Buckner from the Ebony Bedroom at Charlecote Park.
©NTPL/Derrick E Witty.
Mary Elizabeth was born and grew up in North Wales. It was when she married George that she left her family home and came to Charlecote… more of that in future blog posts! The chapter of her memoirs talk of a boisterous and close relationship with her siblings. Indeed you can see the closeness between her and her sister – Margaret, affectionately referred to as Miggy – throughout the book. Mary Elizabeth was fortunate to have her sister close-by in their adult years too. Miggy married another Warwickshire gentleman, Lord Willoughby De Brook and also moved to Warwickshire to live at Compton Verney.
As a young girl Mary Elizabeth loved music and yearned to play the harp but her sister Miggy had chosen that and Mary Elizabeth was not allowed! She did, of course, learn in the end and you can see her harp in the Drawing Room here.
Mary Elizabeth did bring a bit of Wales with her to Charlecote… the little thatched summer house by the orangery restaurant.
Just a young girl she recounts the story in her memoirs;
‘Dearest Mamma once took me with her to visit two old ladies, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sara Ponsonby, who lived together in a beautiful cottage at Llangollen and had no end of pretty things in their drawing room… (The little thatched summerhouse in Charlecote’s garden by the orangery I copied from what I remember of that visit and I furnished it with child-sized tables and chairs to amuse my children and their children after them).’ Chapter 1, Mistress of Charlecote
We’d like to think that Mary Elizabeth celebrated many happy birthdays here at Charlecote! Our room guides have a wealth of knowledge on Mary Elizabeth, her husband George and all that they achieved together at Charlecote so do take some time to chat when you’re next visiting.
And, of course, you can buy a copy of ‘The Mistress of Charlecote: The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy 1803 – 1899’ from our gift shop and other good bookshops in the area.