At Kiplin Hall you’ll encounter of stories about international adventure enjoyed by members of the four families who lived there – the Calverts, Crowes, Carpenters, and Talbots. During the current lockdown we’d like to share a glimpse through the keyhole, exploring a different room each week. This week we peek inside the Lady Waterford Room...

FROM the very masculine space described last week in The Admiral's Study, this week we enter a more feminine, but equally impactful room.

Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford (1818-1891), was the younger daughter of Lord Stuart de Rothesay, an aunt by marriage of Admiral Carpenter and his Talbot siblings.

Lady Waterford was a prolific and accomplished artist. Bridget Talbot (the last owner of Kiplin Hall, credited with saving it for the nation) gathered a sizeable collection of Lady Waterford’s paintings from the houses of her aunts, uncles and parents when they died and brought the paintings to Kiplin. This room is dedicated to Lady Waterford’s beautiful watercolours. Its muted tones and simple furnishing create an elegant backdrop to her artworks.

Lord Stuart de Rothesay and his family lived in Paris, London and at Highcliffe Castle near Christchurch in Dorset. Louisa showed great artistic talent from her early childhood and was considered a great beauty as she grew older.

The Northern Echo:

In 1842, Lady Waterford married Henry, the 3rd Marquess of Waterford, and they divided their time between his estates at Curraghmore in Ireland and Ford in Northumberland. He had been known as "The Mad Marquis" and it is said that, in 1837, when celebrating a successful fox hunt, he and his party found several tins of red paint that they daubed liberally on to the buildings of the High Street of Melton Mowbray, thus originating the phrase "painting the town red".

After his marriage, he still hunted hard, but otherwise led an exemplary life. Sadly, in 1859 he was killed in a fall while hunting.

Lady Waterford went to live at Ford, where she transformed the village and remodelled the castle. She built a school for local children in 1860 and spent 21 years decorating it with huge wall paintings of Biblical subjects depicting children and using villagers as her models. The school closed in 1957 and is now a visitor attraction open to the public.

The Northern Echo:

Despite residing relatively close to Kiplin and presumably being fond of her relatives as her works are so generously dissipated throughout the family, there are no accounts of Lady Waterford ever having visited Kiplin.

Lady Waterford moved in artistic circles throughout her life. She corresponded with John Ruskin, knew the Pre-Raphaelite artists (Rossetti called her “a swell and a stunner”) and George Frederic Watts, who designed her grave at Ford. Unusually for an aristocratic lady at that time, she exhibited her work at the Grosvenor Gallery in London.

Two exhibitions of Lady Waterford’s work were held in London after her death, in 1893 and 1910, with over 300 pictures in each. Kiplin has more than 50 watercolours, mostly sketches. Many of her watercolours have religious subjects or show children at various pursuits. The large watercolour over the fireplace in this room shows young Andrew Trotter, son of the head gardener at Ford Castle, posed for the painting wearing medieval costume and holding a mandolin.

The Northern Echo:

Now displayed as a lady’s sitting room with Lady Waterford’s delightful paintings adorning the walls, this charming room was a bedroom from the 18th century, with a dressing room next door in what is now presented as the Admiral’s Study.

The walnut cabinet with gilt monograms dates from c.1725. There is an Arts and Crafts Morris & Co. embroidered fire screen that may have been used solely for decorative purposes or may have helped preserve the waxy make-up of ladies sitting close to the fire.