Jane Countess of Harrington by Joshua Reynolds

It seems that Derbyshire links are popping up wherever I look.  Opposite YCBA there is the fantastic and newly refurbed Yale Art Gallery.  Amongst their many pictures ( including work by Stubbs, Picasso, Mondrian, Monet, Lictchenstein etc) I came across this lovely Joshua Reynolds .  On closer inspection it turns out that the sitter is Jane Countess of Harrington and her sons.  What’s the Derbyshire link? The Earls of Harrington’s owned Elvaston Castle near Derby, and Jane’s husband Charles Stanhope is buried there – anyone know where Jane was buried?

Joshua Reynolds Stanhope (1)

There are at least two more Reynolds portraits of Jane Harrington, one is at the Huntington Library, California (my favourite of the trio) and the other at Harewood House, Leeds. 

Elvaston Castle seems to have been ignored by 18th and early 19th century visitors to Derbyshire. While other houses are visited or at least referred to, I have come across no reference to Elvaston in either unpublished journals or the published guides.  Quite a few tourists entered the County by going from Nottingham to Derby, so they would have only been a stones throw away from the Castle. 


3 Responses to Jane Countess of Harrington by Joshua Reynolds

  1. Vaughn Wheatley says:

    May I offer a few more observations with regard to Jane Countess of Harrington.
    In this famous picture by Joshua Reynolds Jane is portrayed accompanied by Lord Viscount Petersham (Charles Stanhope) later to become 4th Earl of Harrington and the Honourable Lincoln Stanhope.

    Jane died in 1824 and my understanding is she was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside other members of the Fleming family.

    Her memory is perpetuated in Elvaston Church where to the North side of the sanctuary there is a large painted window with the inscription “ To the memory of Jane, Countess of Harrington, by her son Leicester, fifth Earl of Harrington”.Before the refurbishment of Elvaston Church in 1904/5 this comprised the East window. The subject is our Saviour preaching to the little children and included are portraits of several members of Lord Harrington’s family, including his mother (Jane), his wife (Elizabeth), and four children; The Lady Anna Chandos Pole, Algernon Russell Gayleard, Lady Geraldine Stanhope and Viscount Petersham.

    With regard to the lack of descriptions of the castle and gardens, visitors were not particularly encouraged at Elvaston during the early part of the 19th century, but one notable exception was E Adveno Brooke who visited several country houses at the time compiling his book “The Gardens of England” first published in 1858.
    He describes the gardens as being “as a sealed book” before the 5th Earl opened them to the public but goes on to furnish us with a description and captures the splendour with some wonderful colour plates of the Mon Plaisir and The Alhambra Gardens.

    Vaughn Wheatley, Archivist
    Elvaston Castle Country Park

  2. Hello Vaughn,

    Thanks for the information! I will have to look at the window at Elvaston Church next time I am down there. I was wondering how much time Jane would have spent at Elvaston Castle. I read somewhere (and now I can’t remember where…) that Jane and Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire were friends, and was wondering whether this friendship was mainly played out in London or Derbyshire?

    Interesting that visitors were not encouraged in the early 19th century, I like the ‘sealed book’ quote!


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Anna and thank you for your comments.

    There appear to be no particular records of Jane’s time at Elvaston but I understand at that time the 3rd Earl pretty much divided his time between Elvaston where he was planning the rebuilding of the castle and ‘Harrington House’, his London home in Whitehall Gardens.

    The 3rd Earls fondest for tea was legendary and Jane was both a lady of the bedchamber to Queen Charlotte and a fashionable society hostess therefore their tea drinking parties at Harrington House were high in the social circle, particularly when frequented by George III and his queen.

    It’s therefore safe to assume that Georgiana Cavendish would have been invited to these parties when in London and as the ladies were of very similar ages she would probably have been well acquainted with Jane, particularly with the proximity of Harewood House in Leeds to Chatsworth.

    Regards Vaughn

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