Yesterday Ian and I put the smaller portraits up around the library, in time for the girls who came to film their scenes from The Northern Lights. But we didn’t get round to putting the main one up over the fireplace.
Ever since I was a child, and probably for decades before that as well, the portrait over the fireplace was of my ancestor William Morland (1692-1774) who bought Court Lodge in 1733, known in the family as William the First! It supposedly depicts him holding the deeds to Court Lodge in his hand. Curiously though, the date on the portrait is 1715, which is well before he bought Court Lodge. It may be the deeds to Court Lodge that he is holding, but it could also be a letter addressed to him at Court Lodge. This would also be quite curious though, as it suggests he was at least living here at Court Lodge up to 18 years before he purchased it. In fact, it’s not entirely clear to me how my ancestor came to purchase Court Lodge, and I hope to unravel a bit of this mystery at my next visit to the Maidstone archives. But, I’m getting distracted….
This is the portrait of William Morland that has hung above the fireplace for goodness knows how long:
William Morland (1692-1774) who bought Court Lodge in 1733
Now, while this is clearly an oil painting, I think it’s fair to say that dear old William is no oil painting. And the library will one day be our wedding room, playing host to beautiful wedding ceremonies, as well as many other important occasions. We decided that we wanted a more appropriate figure to take centre stage in the library. It didn’t take us long to choose:
A new face above the fireplace
This is Ann Matson (1745-1808), who married Thomas Morland, son of the aforementioned William Morland. She was the lady of the house here at Court Lodge after William died, and her husband Thomas inherited it. She is also a significant character in the research I’ve been doing into the family, as she was the mother of the generation of Morlands that were closely entwined with a branch of Jane Austen’s family. She is a beauty, and the portrait is one of my favourites in the house. Much more fitting to have this beautiful young lady in her stunning dress looking down over all the wedding ceremonies and celebrations!
Here are some more photos of the library with the portraits in situ. Before long we’ll clear out the remaining clutter and take some more photos, I promise! But we’re still not completely there, as there is still the chandelier to put up, some mirrors to put up, curtains and pelmets to have made and put up, and reconditioned cast iron radiators to install. But for now, I’m enjoying seeing the beautiful Ann looking down on us!
The portraits have gone back up
The portraits adorning the room