Coughton Court, home to the Throckmorton family since 1409 and now a largely eighteenth-century Gothick building, is one of three important recusant houses owned by the National Trust, along with Sizergh Castle, Cumbria and Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. It was thanks to the mother of Sir Robert Throckmorton (1908–1989), 11th and penultimate Bt, née Lilian Langford-Brooke (d.1955), that a Judge in Chancery in 1945 approved a scheme submitted by counsel that transferred Coughton Court and its estate to the National Trust. The rest of the contents remained the property of the family until their acceptance in lieu of tax in 2006. However, by then, two of Largillierre’s three portraits of nuns, relatives of Sir Robert Throckmorton, 4th Bt, and pendants to his portrait, had been sold – one to the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the other to the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. The portrait of Sir Robert was secured for Coughton by the Ministry of Works and transferred to the National Trust in 1964 and the portrait of Sir Robert’s aunt, Anne Frances Throckmorton, was also bought by the National Trust with the aid of the National Art Collections Fund. There is also a fine portrait by another French artist, François de Troy, Largillierre’s senior and artist to the Stuart court in exile at St Germain-en-Laye, of Lady Mary Herbert, daughter of the 1st Marquess/Duke of Powis, when she was Viscountess Montagu, in the guise of Diana the Huntress. Another portrait of her by de Troy is at Powis Castle (National Trust). An interesting example of true rustic realism is the depiction of the celebrated weaving of the Throckmorton coat: the representation of a successful wager in 1811, that the wool shorn from two sheep’s backs at sunrise could be processed and woven into a coat by sunset on the same day. The coat itself, made for the 5th Baronet, stands beside the picture in the saloon.
National Trust, Coughton Court
Alcester, Warwickshire B49 5JA England
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