Dudmaston was owned by the Wolryches since 1403. It was given to the National Trust, with the neighbouring village Quatt, in 1978 by Rachel, Lady Labouchere, née Hamilton-Russell, fulfilling the wish of the uncle, Geoffrey Wolryche-Whitmore (1881–1969) who had given it to her in 1952. She wished to preserve the house, the model estate, and collection of pictures, including some exceptionally fine flower pieces (a rarity in British collections) that had come into the family from the collection of Francis Darby (1783–1850), of Sunniside, Coalbrookdale from Alice Mary Darby (1852–1931), who had married Geoffrey’s father, Francis Alexander Wolryche-Whitmore (1845–1927). Lady Labouchere, a keen gardener and botanical artist herself, added botanical prints, watercolours and topographical watercolours, whilst her husband, Sir George Labouchere (1905–1999), whose final diplomatic posting had been as ambassador in Madrid (1960–1666), introduced the collection of contemporary abstract art and small-scale sculpture that he had begun collecting when at the British Embassy in Brussels in the 1950s. His most interesting acquisitions are of works by dissident artists in President Franco’s Spain such as those of the members of the El Paso group and, apart from the few works he gave to the Tate, they can scarcely be seen anywhere else in the UK and are displayed in an especially converted gallery at Dudmaston. Other pictures in the house represent other members of Lady Labouchere’s rich ancestry, including the computer pioneer Charles Babbage (1792–1871), who was married to William Wolryche-Whitmore’s sister Georgiana (d.1827), and who introduced his own central heating and gas lighting to Dudmaston.
National Trust, Dudmaston
Quatt, near Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV15 6QN England
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