Reviving Shakespeare: 1769 Jubilee

A few days ago we shared a post from The Shakespeare Blog about the poaching legend and whether it is fact or fiction?

Basic RGBAs it is Shakespeare Week, we thought we’d continue the theme. We were wondering, if this story isn’t necessarily true, why is is remembered so widely? It would seem that another member of the Lucy family could be accountable for this…

Sir Thomas Lucy I was the chap who owned the park when Shakespeare was reputed to have been poaching, but it was his great-great-great-grandson George Lucy who happily revived the story at the Shakespeare Jubilee, 1769. It was this Jubilee celebration, held in nearby Stratford, which re-established Shakespeare’s reputation as England’s greatest playwright.

We have a portrait of David Garrick hanging in our library. But who was he and why is he hanging there?!


Garrick was an actor and the leading player in staging the Jubilee celebration of 1769. He had the original idea for the celebration when approached by the town’s leaders who wanted him to fund a statue of Shakespeare to stand in the Town Hall. Mr Garrick planned the major celebration which had figures from London’s cultural, political and economic world attending. This was the first jubilee celebration of Shakespeare’s life and one that we continue to celebrate to this day in Statford on the weekend nearest to Shakespeare’s birthday.

The painting in our library is not the original but a copy of the renowned picture. The portrait was destroyed by fire at the Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon. The original was the first work that Garrick commissioned from Gainsborough. The pose is a conscious tribute to Scheemakers’s celebrated statue on the poet’s monument in Westminster Abbey. It was exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1766, and after the exhibition, Garrick allowed Gainsborough to take the picture back and rework it, so it could be sold to the Corporation of Stratford for the Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769.

 Next time you’re here, take a moment to find him.

Did you know?
It was this link to Shakespeare and the Jubilee that persuaded the National Trust to take on the estate when it was gifted in 1946.

Spot the difference!

We’re wondering how many people will be able to spot the difference when we re-open the house this month…

We have a painting that hangs in our Great Hall. It is of Elizabeth Urrey, also know as Mrs Richard Lucy. If you look up the painting on our collections database, you’ll find the following description:

‘Oil painting on canvas, Elizabeth Urrey, Mrs Richard Lucy, by British (English) School, circa 1650. A three-quarter-length portrait of the wife of Richard Lucy of Charlecote and daughter of John Urrey of Thorley, Isle of Wight.’


Quite a straight-forward description of this oil on canvas.Our wonderful room guides will be able to tell you more about who she is and how she fits in to the Charlecote story.

We think it is quite a special painting. And we’re not the only ones.

This year our lovely Elizabeth has gone away on her travels to Montacute House in Somerset! Elizabeth will hang there as part of a joint exhibition, Pictured and Seen, with the National Portrait Gallery. She will be away for 2 years!


Here at Charlecote we were faced with having a great big gap where Elizabeth hangs in the Great Hall.

e_great hall

But we didn’t think our returning room guides and visitors would be too impressed so we’ve had to be inventive. We have filled the space with a canvas replica which seems to blend in fairly well.

fake lizzy

Come along and see if you can spot the difference!

An artist in the spotlight: Alfred Edward Borthwick

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you may recall a post back in January 2012 from one of our volunteers, Chris. He wrote about a portrait of Henry Ramsay-Fairfax Lucy that hangs in our billiard room. It is a painting that visitors often comment on. Well, another of our volunteer Room Guides, Frank, has done some more research on the person who painted it and more…!

The artist was Alfred Edward Borthwick, (born 22nd April 1871) a Scottish painter and second son of William Henry Borthwick, 15th of Crookston. Crookston House in the parish of Stow in the Scottish Borders has been the family seat for centuries. Alfred joined the Scottish Sharpshooters attaining the rank of captain and served in the Boer War and WW1. After leaving the army he devoted his life to painting, being one of the most prominent of Scottish 20th-century artists. He was six times president of the Society of Scottish Artists and in 1931 became president of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters. He died in Edinburgh on 7th December 1955.

In 1942, Borthwick painted the distinctive portrait of Lady Ada Fairfax-Lucy. This painting is now in the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. I understand that the family lived in Scotland during the war and both the portraits of Sir Henry and Lady Ada were most likely painted there. Although Alfred Borthwick lived in Burnhouse Ayrshire, his family were at Crookston which is but a few miles from Maxton where the Fairfax-Lucys were living during the war years. It is likely that the families were well acquainted with each other.

lady Ada Fairfax-Lucy

Lady Ada Fairfax-Lucy

Could the two portraits have been painted at the same time in 1942?  Possibly, but not necessarily.

The styles are different. However, it is worth remembering that in July of that year Sir Henry and Lady Ada celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.

In Maxton Kirk are the following bronze memorials:-



 There are also memorials of them in Benrig Cemetery, St. Boswells where there are the resting places of many of the Ramsays and Fairfaxes.

Frank, Volunteer Room Guide

My favourite object… #2

The first in the ‘my favourite object’ series was Mary Elizabeth’s harp. In this next installment our retail assistant (and volunteer House Elf!) Rebecca takes a closer look at a rather fine painting…
“Like Ruth, my favorite item can also be found in the Drawing Room and it is the first thing you can see through the door.
The portrait was painted by John Morley, in 1972. The artist first painted the composition of the gates, then painted Lady Alice in the Great Hall.
I believe it captures the romantic notion of being a Lady of Charlecote and captures the elegance of the estate.
But for me it is more about the subject of the portrait than the actual painting. Lady Alice is one of the important ladies of Charlecote, she was the wife of the 5th Baronet Sir Brian Fulke Ramsay-Fairfax-Lucy and the mother of the current 6th Baronet Sir Edmund. When the family handed the property over to the National Trust in 1946, Lady Alice became the property historian and helped to reinstate the interiors to the way Lady Mary Elizabeth designed them. She even created the first Guidebook for the property.
Lady Alice was also an author of many books including “Charlecote and The Lucys” (1958) and wrote the introduction for “Mistress of Charlecote – The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy 1803-1889″.
Even after her death in 1993, we still refer to her notes of the property which are safely guarded by her son.
The portrait reminds me that behind every beautiful image is a person with a story and Lady Alice’s story is just as important. We owe as much to her as we do to Lady Mary Elizabeth.”
Rebecca, Retail Assistant