|Lady Pigott's album (in front) and sketchbook, August 2018|
The red book is a sketchbook. Most of the pages have been torn out or the sketches taken out of their mounts and only two pencil sketches remain, neither of very much interest. But the other book, a scrapbook of prints which has also had many items removed from it, still has lots of lovely things in it. Both belonged to Georgina Pigott. Her name is written in both of them in her own hand (the sketchbook has her signature in it twice (once her maiden name and once her married name -- helpfully!) and the scrapbook has an inscription in the same handwriting):
|Inscription in the front of the album|
She was born Georgina Anne Brummell on 8 August 1802 at Donnington Grove house in Berkshire. Donnington Grove is the most exquisite 'Strawberry Hill Gothic' house built in 1763, now a hotel. I would love to go and see what it's like inside. The Brummells moved there in 1783.
|Donnington Grove house|
|Lord Frederick North|
|Georgina's father William Brummell (behind) and younger brother George by Sir Joshua Reynolds|
|Beau Brummell by Robert Dighton|
It may have been to distance themselves from Beau Brummell's notoriety that his brother moved his family to Wivenhoe House near Colchester, Essex in 1811. By that date William and Anne had two daughters, Frances Amelia (1801-1862) and Georgina Anne (1802-1886). Georgina Anne is the owner of the album and sketchbook. In the sketchbook there's a page entitled 'Wivenhoe House Feb 10, 1841' but sadly the picture itself is missing. The house itself is no longer standing -- it was dismantled in about 1861 and the land divided into plots for around 80 houses, which now make up the centre of Wivenhoe. It shouldn't be confused with the Wivenhoe House that stands in the grounds of the University of Essex and is run as a hotel. If anyone is interested, this is a very interesting article about the various big houses in Wivenhoe. And Pat Marsden's other articles on Wivenhoe history have also been very helpful for this blogpost.
|St Michael's, Berechurch, by Jonathan Greig, 1823|
Georgina got married in 1831, when she was 29 (relatively old for those days). She married a baronet, Thomas Pigott, and they lived at Denston Hall in Suffolk.
|Denston Hall, Suffolk|
|Mrs Elizabeth Billington as St Cecilia, by Anthony Cardon, from a painting by Joshua Reynolds, 1812|
Georgina seems to have shared the period's interest in exotic expeditions as there are a number of prints of 'primitive' peoples such as these 'Tunguse' priestesses:
I'm not particularly interested in engravings as a rule, but looking at this album it's hard not to be charmed and impressed by the beautifully delicate detail. Here are a few more:
I especially like this page of tiny engravings, which remind me of the miniatures made by Thomas Medland (1765-1833) for Peacock's Polite Repository. I only know about these because I had to look through them for a recent book on Humphry Repton that we published at work.
Here's one closer up:
Flemings is still a hotel!) She lived on into considerable old age and when she died at the age of 84 in 1886 she was living in Richmond, Surrey with her spinster daughter Mary Elizabeth. Georgina only left £652 so had perhaps had to eke out her savings all through her widowhood. Interestingly, even though she had left the Pigott family when she remarried, she was buried at Dullingham near Newmarket, where her nephew Christopher Pigott lived in the big house.
I've saved the most interesting thing about the album until last. There is a photograph between two of the pages. Georgina lived largely before photography was invented and the photo clearly dates from much later, after Georgina's death:
I think the album must have stayed in the family for generations but finally found itself in a box of nothing very much in a provincial auction sale -- at least now that I've got it, I will extend its life a little further.