Tag Archives: art

The Bridges family of Lawford and John Constable’s portrait

A family of eight stand around a piano. Through the window behind them, a church tower can just about be seen.

The Bridges Family 1804 John Constable 1776-1837 Presented by Mrs Walter Bogue Bridges 1952 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N06130. CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0. Photo © Tate

If you’re from north-east Essex, and perhaps if you’re from south-east Suffolk, you cannot avoid John Constable. My grandma had a print of The Haywain above her television, and we had Constable table mats. I grew up eating my Sunday roast while gazing down around the edge of the plate at what I could see of the horse outside Flatford mill, and the boat-builders along the river. If you go for a row at Dedham, you round a bend, and you’re suddenly in one of his paintings.

In 1804, John Constable painted a portrait of the Bridges family, who lived in Lawford. Pater familias George was a banker and a corn merchant, and Lawford Place was built by him in about 1790.1)If the house was built then, where did the family live when their eldest child was born in Lawford in 1788? Was the house perhaps built earlier than 1790? It’s a famous painting (although didn’t feature in our table mat set), and I became curious about it while transcribing Lawford’s parish register, covering 1764-1812. Were the sitters in the register?

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. If the house was built then, where did the family live when their eldest child was born in Lawford in 1788? Was the house perhaps built earlier than 1790?

Elizabeth Salter, Lady Cowdray or… some monkeys?

lady-cowdray

Elizabeth Salter of Flowton?

Whilst researching the Cardinall family, I got slightly sidetracked with Thomas Bowes’ family. In 1603, Charles Cardinall, widowed, married Bridget Bowes, and they had one son, James, who, it seems increasingly possible, is one of my ancestors. Born in Dedham in about 1561, the daughter of Ralph Starling, Bridget had been married to Thomas Bowes of East Bergholt (just over the border from Dedham in Suffolk). The 1634 Visitation of Essex shows that Thomas and Bridget had two children: Thomas, who became Sir Thomas, the magistrate who prosecuted “witches” found by the infamous Matthew Hopkins, and Elizabeth. 1)Note that Thomas mentions two more daughters in his 1598 will – Judith and Anne. Elizabeth, according to this Visitation, married Martin Salter of Flowton in Suffolk.

Part of the entry for the Bowes family, 1634 Visitation of Essex

Part of the entry for the Bowes family, 1634 Visitation of Essex

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Note that Thomas mentions two more daughters in his 1598 will – Judith and Anne