Lady in the attic

This painting was recently discovered in the Manor attics. The sitter and artist are unknown, however a Curator from the Victoria & Albert Museum has analysed her costume.

“From the sitter’s clothing I would suggest that this painting could date to around 1860-1870. The woman’s black cloak is very typical of mourning attire worn in the high Victorian period, especially the crape material, a type of silk with a peculiar crimped appearance produced by heat. Crape became particularly associated with mourning clothes of this period.

The high neck with the bow is also points to the clothing dating to this period. Although the white of the silk could indicate that the sitter is entering the later stages of mourning, when lighter colours were incorporated into the outfit.”

Further reading:
Buck, A. ‘The Trap Re-Baited, Mourning Dress 1860-1890’. The Proceedings of the Costume Society Spring Conference, 1968, pp. 32-37.

Assistant Curator, Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion,
Victoria and Albert Museum

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Manor Love

In 1995 a set of 17 folded love notes tied with string, fondly known as The Harlaxton Letters, were discovered behind a skirting board on the Gold Staircase. The writer (signed GG?) asks Alice to meet him repeatedly in Blackie’s stall. Was the writer Gregory Gregory? Was Alice a maid at the Manor? Was Blackie a horse in the Carriage House?

Upon analysing the paper, handwriting and staining, the Conservation Department at Lincolnshire Archives felt the letters were a hoax. But as today is Valentine’s Day there is romance in the air around the Manor.

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From a family album

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These beautiful images have been sent to us by Rear Admiral Michael Gregory, OBE, Lord-Lieutenant for Dunbartonshire. Michael Gregory is a descendent of Francis Gregory, brother of George Gregory (bapt. 1638, d. 1688). Francis and George were sons of John Gregory (d. 1694) and Elizabeth Alton (1613-75), whose marriage is commemorated in the Great Hall stained glass window. George Gregory married Susanna Lister (d. 1713) starting the line who inherit Harlaxton Manor ending with Gregory Gregory. Michael kindly scanned these images from his Victorian family album dating from when George Gregory owned the current Manor after Gregory Gregory’s death, 1854-60.

Confused by all these George Gregorys? Have a look at the Gregory family tree prepared by Dr Mark Valenzuela.

[All images by courtesy Michael Gregory. Please do not use for other purposes.]

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Postcards of the Manor

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Recent acquisition for the Manor Archives, a set of 6 postcards. Note the people in Victorian dress enjoying the gardens (no. 3), people in shirt sleeves on left in no. 4, the lone figure standing in the gateway of no. 5 and the shadow cast of someone with a bicycle. No. 6 is interesting – two men either side of the gateway with bicycles, one on right smoking, another man on right appears to be in a wheelchair, and two females behind the closed gate, probably from the Lodge.

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Gold Room cherub

Detail of Gold Room ceiling cherub

Detail of Gold Room ceiling cherub

According to Pevsner the Gold Room ceiling is possibly the work of John Gregory Crace (1809-1889), thought to have been a distant relation of Mr. Gregory’s, and fourth generation of a very notable family of decorators. This is a cherub detail scanned from a transparency found in the Manor archives.

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Old Manor destroyed

“We understand that fine old ruin “Harlaxton Manor House,” is fast being destroyed. We are sorry always to see these most picturesque and in many respects not to be improved old mansion pass away. They are part of the links that bind us to the past, and prove that the Englishman of long ago was much more a man of taste, and consequently more of a truly civilized man than we were taught in our early days to consider him. What is our modern domestic architecture, when not paltry frippery, but a not often very successful imitation of the original ideas of the old architects?”

Grantham Journal, Saturday 18 July, 1857

This refers to the old manor house in the village of Harlaxton.

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Gregory Williams at Christ Church, Oxford, 1805-7

We have recently discovered that Gregory Gregory (then known as Gregory Williams) attended Christ Church College, Oxford between 1805 and 1807, aged 19 to 21. His studies included Classical texts with some mathematics, algebra, rhetoric, ethics, and scripture. He went down without achieving a degree, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he was not a scholar. Many young men came up to Oxford almost as a finishing school or a rite of passage. Many, such as Gregory, were destined to run family estates or even (particularly later in the C19) family businesses, and left around their 21st birthdays to carry on their responsibilities.

Thanks to the Archivist at Christ Church for providing us with a transcript for Gregory Williams.

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Gregory Gregory Esq. arrives

“Gregory Gregory, Esq. of Hungerton, arrived at his residence near Grantham on Friday week, after a three years’ residence in France and Italy. He is about to commence the erection of a splendid mansion on his estate at Harlaxton, of the Elizabethan style of domestic architecture. Mr. Salvin is the professional agent whose designs have been adopted.”

Stamford Mercury, Friday 11 March, 1831

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Gatehouse doors

An engraving by the Manor Gatehouse door (inside the McCarthy flat) says “1863 March 3 This door hung by J Coy”. James Coy, Joiner, (1830-1907) is listed as living in Gregory’s Alms Houses in the 1861 census, with wife Mary Ann (step sister of Elizabeth Sandilands, house keeper for Gregory Gregory at the Manor) and son William. James spent his life at Harlaxton and is buried, with Mary Ann, at Harlaxton Church.

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Annual rejoicing of the Manor, 1843

Snowy gazebo by Linda Dawes, 2013

Snowy gazebo by Linda Dawes, 2013

“The twelfth annual rejoicing at the progress of this magnificent building took place on Saturday evening … at the Golden Lion Inn, Harlaxton, where a treat was given by Gregory Gregory, Esq. to the workmen and others employed, amounting to one hundred. After the usual loyal toasts, health and long life to the worthy proprietor and respected friend to the labouring classes” was drank in the most enthusiastic manner by all present. The chair was filled by Mr. John Howlson, supported by Mr. Laing of Stoke Rochford; and Mr. Wilson, builder, of Grantham, acted as vice. The evening was spent in the most harmonious manner, all being highly delighted with the annual treat so generously bestowed by Mr. Gregory.” Stamford Mercury, Friday 29 December, 1843

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