Recitals raise money to restore Raynham Hall’s priceless paintings

Lady Townshend at Raynham Hall with two Royal portraits dating back to 1646 of (L) Princess Elizabet

Lady Townshend at Raynham Hall with two Royal portraits dating back to 1646 of (L) Princess Elizabeth and Princess Henrietta. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Charles Townshend, 8th Marquess Townshend and his wife Alison, Lady Townshend, have devoted the past five years to repairing and restoring artworks and decor at Raynham Hall, near Fakenham.

Lady Townshend at Raynham Hall with two Royal portraits dating back to 1646 of (L) Princess Elizabet

Lady Townshend at Raynham Hall with two Royal portraits dating back to 1646 of (L) Princess Elizabeth and Princess Henrietta. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Now they hope to raise £48,000 to research, identify and restore three 17th Century portraits which depict the children of Charles I.

Lady Townshend has spent many hours piecing together the more obscure aspect of the family history and detecting likenesses to identify previously unknown portraits at Raynham.

'Aristocratic families used portraits in their homes to show off their wealth and privilege through their ancestors and connections like a 17th century facebook and these portraits are invaluable to both Raynham Hall and our national heritage,' she said.

'More importantly we should never ignore or forget what happens to children in times of social and political upheaval.

Raynham Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

Raynham Hall. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

'The sad and haunting eyes of the two little princesses are unforgettable and take us back to the Civil War faster than the written word.'

It is believed that the portraits were bought by the 1st Viscount Townshend, Horatio, in preparation for the visit of Charles II in 1671.

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One is a copy of an original by Flemish master Van Dyck (1599 - 1641), depicting Prince Charles - Charles II (1630 - 1685) as a boy, with sister Princess Mary (1631 - 1660) and brother James, later James II (1633 - 1701).

Two original portraits depict Princesses Elizabeth (1635 - 1650) and Henrietta (1644 - 1670) as children. There are no other known portraits of Henriettta as a child.

All of the paintings have been over painted after abrasive cleaning. The originals which lie beneath later layers are believed to be far superior paintings.

Charles I battled Parliament to retain the so-called royal prerogative to rule. He believed in the divine right of kings. But his tyranny led to his being overthrown and beheaded in 1649 and the declaration of the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell.

The 1st Viscount Horatio was a great supporter of the restoration of the monarchy and helped to bring Charles II back from exile in Holland to the English throne in 1660.

Plans of the 1st floor at Raynham Hall, dated 1671, show that when Charles II visited Raynham Hall that year, he slept in what is now called the King's Bedroom. He also dined in the spectacular Belisarius Room probably using the ten beautiful gilt upholstered chairs, which are also thought to have been commissioned for the Royal visit.

Money to restore the paintings is being raised by bringing a series of world class musicians to perform in the house's ornate Marble Hall.

Internationally-acclaimed musicians Rachel Podger (violin) and Maggie Cole (fortepiano) will be performing on Saturday, September 17 (6.30pm) with tickets costing £50.

Rachel Podger has established herself as a leading interpreter of the Baroque and Classical periods and has recently won a 2016 Gramophone Classical Music Award.

Maggie Cole is internationally acclaimed for her performances and recordings on harpsichord, fortepiano and piano.

For the September recital, the musicians have chosen a selection of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Guests will be able to picnic on the south lawn of the house or book seats for dinner in its state dining room. Raynham's very own Grand Cru Champagne will also be available

To book or for further information, click here.

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