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Gawthorpe Hall: 18th century portraits on display for the first time

The 18th century portraits of Roger Nowell.
The 18th century portraits of Roger Nowell.
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A selection of acclaimed 18th century paintings are now on public display for the first time at Gawthorpe Hall depicting the Elizabethan country house's residents from the 1700s.

The five paintings are of members of the Nowell family from Read, who rented Gawthorpe Hall in the 1700's from the owners, the Shuttleworths, who themselves resided at Fawcett Hall in Yorkshire. The portraits have been donated to the National Trust so they can be put on display.

Featuring paintings of the three Nowell brothers all born at Gawthorpe Hall in the 1760s - Thomas Michael, Alexander, and Richard - the artwork collection also contained depictions of the brothers' great uncle Roger and great aunt Rebecca Nowell, who lived at nearby Read Hall.

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

The tenancy at Gawthorpe Hall was taken over from the Shuttleworths by Alexander Nowell who died at the home in 1747, passing on the tenancy to his son Ralph, who had eight of his 10 children in the property, including the aforementioned Thomas Michael, Alexander, and Richard.

Thomas was a doctor in France who worked studied vaccines extensively, playing an influential role in the development of the smallpox vaccine. Alexander served in the East India Company before returning to England to become the MP for Westmorland from 1831 to 1832. Richard was a solicitor and practised in London.

While the artist is unknown, the portraits of the brothers are believed to have been painted around 1780, while the portraits of Roger and Rebecca are thought to have been completed earlier, dating from around 1700. Before being put on display, minimal conservation work was carried out in-house by Lancashire Conservation Studios.

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

Normal opening times are 12pm to 5pm Wednesdays to Sundays, with last entry at 4.30pm. For more information, call 01282 771004 or email gawthorpehall@lancashire.gov.uk