Historic paintings return Gawthorpe Hall tenants home

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Acclaimed paintings dating from the 18th century are now on public display for the first time at Gawthorpe Hall.

The five paintings are of members of the Nowell family, who rented Gawthorpe Hall in the 1700's from the owners, the Shuttleworth's.

The portraits have been donated to the National Trust so that they can be displayed at Gawthorpe Hall.

The Shuttleworth family didn't live at Gawthorpe Hall in the 1700's, residing at Fawcett Hall in Yorkshire instead.

During this time Gawthorpe Hall was rented out to an up and coming local family, the Nowell's, who lived in the neighbouring village of Read.

Some of the art on display features three Nowell brothers, Thomas Michael, Alexander and Richard, who were all born at Gawthorpe Hall in the 1760's. The two other portraits are of their great uncle Roger and great aunt Rebecca Nowell, who lived at nearby Read Hall.

Alexander Nowell took over the tenancy from the Shuttleworth's in the 1700's, and died at Gawthorpe Hall in 1747. The tenancy was then taken over by his son, Ralph Nowell. Eight of Ralph's 10 children were born at Gawthorpe Hall.

Three of Ralph's sons, Thomas Michael, Alexander and Richard are featured in the display. The eldest, Thomas, was a doctor who practised in France and worked extensively on the study of vaccinations and was influential in the development of the smallpox vaccine. Alexander served in the East India Company and returned to England to pursue a political career. He became the MP for Westmorland from 1831 to 1832. Richard was a solicitor and practised in London.

Their uncle Roger Nowell, an elder brother of their grandfather Alexander, and his second wife Rebecca are also featured.

Although the artist is unknown, the portraits of Thomas Michael, Alexander and Richard are believed to have been painted around 1780. The portraits of Roger and Rebecca are thought to be earlier, dating from around 1700.

Before they were put on display, minimal conservation work was carried out in house by Lancashire Conservation Studios. All of the paintings were surface dusted and reframed, and the portraits of Rebecca, Roger and Richard Nowell needed some retouching to parts that had faded over time.

County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: "I'm sure that these portraits will add to the stunning collection of art that is already on display at Gawthorpe Hall.

"This is the first time that they have been on public display, and will be very interesting to see both for art and local history lovers alike."

Entrance to the see these paintings, and the other 41 displayed at Gawthorpe Hall, is included in the normal admission price which is £6 for adults and £4 for concessions. National Trust members and children go free.

For more information telephone 01282 771004 or email gawthorpehall@lancashire.gov.uk

Gawthorpe Hall is run by Lancashire County Council's museum service on behalf of the National Trust.

Normal opening times are 12pm to 5pm Wednesdays to Sundays, with last entry to the Hall at 4.30pm. The museum is open on Bank Holidays.

To find out more about Gawthorpe Hall and other Lancashire County Council museums visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums


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