[Guide book]

5th Earl of Verulam

circa 1955

16 pages + 4 plates

The Introductory Paragraphs

Gorhambury stands in its own wooded park, nearly three miles from the centre of St. Albans. History has in several generations been made here. Here are to be found:

the earliest known fully documented portrait of an Englishman (EDWARD GRIMSTON) by Petrus Christus, signed and dated 1446, now on loan to the National Gallery).

the longest collection of family portraits, extending with hardly a break from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.

four of the eight known paintings by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Kt., of Culjord, Suffolk, an amateur of the early 17th century and the first great English painter working on a large scale here.

many of the books, pictures and possessions of Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor, Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, whose home Gorhambury was.

quarto editions of seven of the plays of Shakespeare, the earliest to survive in private possession in Britain (the originals are on loan to the Bodleian Library at Oxford but photographic copies are shown to visitors).

contemporary terracotta painted busts of Francis Bacon as a boy, and of his Mother and Father.

two windows of domestic enamelled glass from the Tudor Gorhambury, unique of their kind.

the oldest known English-made pile carpet (dated 1570)

The Great Library

The present house was built in the years 1777 to 1784 (Sir Robert Taylor, architect), to the order of James Bucknall, 3rd Viscount Grimston. It was designed to accommodate the twin collections of pictures that the Bacon and Grimston families had accumulated, overcrowding the restricted walls of the old Tudor house (the ruins of which stand to this day in Gorhambury Park). The visitor to Gorhambury makes the round tour of the five great rooms in which most of these pictures now hang. The family motto of the Bacon and the Grimston families, MEDIOCRIA FIRMA ("moderate things are stable"), expresses aptly the peace of Gorhambury and the outlook of the family that lives there, whose collections have survived the centuries little disturbed, seldom altered by purchase or sale, each generation making its contribution.


The Old Tudor House

November 2011   Page created