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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
Gatehouse door (Photograph: Linda Dawes)
Engraving by the door of the Gatehouse (Photograph: Linda Dawes)
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.