Sunday, 18 May 2014

(123) Heathcoat-Amory of Knightshayes Court, baronets

Heathcoat-Amory coat of arms
John Heathcoat (1783-1861) was the son of a Leicestershire farmer. His education was curtailed when his father became blind and was obliged to give up his farm,  and he was apprenticed to a framesmith in the local hosiery industry. After completing his articles he moved to Nottingham as journeyman to Leonard Elliott, framesmith, whose business he soon bought out, and he then set himself to mechanise the process of lace-making. Having patented a machine for the purpose, he set up a factory in Loughborough in partnership with Charles Lacy, which proved successful and profitable. Unfortunately in 1816 his machinery was destroyed and his lace burned by a Luddite mob.  Although the local magistrates offered £10,000 of compensation, their offer was conditional on his re-investing in the area, and Heathcoat, who felt his life had been threatened by the mob, declined the compensation and moved his operation to a disused cloth mill at Tiverton in Devon; many of his skilled workers are said to have migrated with him. In Tiverton, where there was severe unemployment, his successful and expanding mill soon made him popular with the townspeople, and in 1832, after the Reform Act, he was elected MP for the town. He continued to make technical improvements in the lacemaking process until his retirement in 1843; and lived latterly at the Regency Bolham House, just outside Tiverton, which remained in the family until 1962.

Bolham House, built in 1823.

John Heathcoat's marriage produced three daughters, the eldest of whom, Anne Heathcoat (d. 1833), married Samuel Amory, a London lawyer who acted for John Heathcoat. Their only son, Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, 1st bt. (as he became in 1876), inherited a large share of John Heathcoat & Co., and although he personally did not take a great deal of interest in the business, many of his descandants have done so, and the firm has remained closely associated with the family to this day.

Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1829-1914), 1st bt., was keen to lead the life of a country gentleman, and in 1866-68 he bought the Knightshayes estate near Tiverton. The estate was initially fairly small, and had at this time had only a small late 18th century house, but Sir John built up the acreage so that by the 1880s he owned over 5,200 acres in Devon, and he and his wife commissioned a new house from the architect William Burges. It is not known how they came to choose Burges, who was amongst the most avant-garde High Victorian designers, since neither Sir John nor his wife had apparent artistic interests or connections.  Burges' design for the exterior, which was begun in 1869 and completed in 1874, was in a rather muted version of his usual extravagantly Gothic style.  When it came to the interiors, for which his designs were presented in 1873, however, he allowed his imagination free reign, and the potential cost, of these interiors led to his being dismissed in 1875 and replaced by the decorator, John Didlee Crace (1838-1919).  Although well short of the extravagance of Burges' proposed interiors, Crace's scheme was still colourful and busy, and already by 1889 some simplification had been begun. This was a process continued by Sir John's son, Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (1865-1931), 2nd bt. and grandson, Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1896-1972), 3rd bt., who inherited the house in turn.  When Sir John died in 1973 he bequeathed the estate to The National Trust and the Knightshayes Garden Trust, and the National Trust have gradually revealed and revived elements of the Victorian interior as opportunity has offered.

Knightshayes Court, Devon
The name Knightshayes is first recorded in the 14th century, and in 1766 the estate was advertised in the Exeter Flying Post as ‘a very agreeable spot for a gentleman’s seat'. By 1785 Benjamin Dickinson had bought the property, and he built a low, white-painted house built about a hundred yards south of the present mansion that was completed in 1787.  When John Amory bought the estate in 1868 he wanted a new, larger, and more fashionable house, and commissioned William Burges, the innovative architect of Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, to design it for him; work actually began on designs in 1867, before contracts for the purchase of the estate had been exchanged. 


Burges' original design for the house, showing the intended tower. Image: National Trust


Knightshayes: drawing by Axel Haig for Eastlake's History of the Gothic Revival. Image: Victorian Web


Knightshayes Court: entrance front. Image: Oldchippy


Knightshayes Court: garden front.
Knightshayes, commented the Building News, 'is stately and bold, and its medievalism is not obstrusive' and certainly Burges was here more restrained than at Cardiff Castle or Castell Coch. Its elevations might have been described at the time as severe, muscular and manly, although to modern eyes the medievalism is obtrusive, especially on the north-facing entrance front. This is L-shaped, with a single-storey projecting billiard room at the north-east corner; at the west end only the base was built of the intended massive tower over the staircase. The low addition beyond it is a smoking room added in 1902 by Sir Ernest George. On the garden front, Burges applied details from his favourite 13th century French Gothic style (plate-tracery windows, crenellated chimneys, gargoyles) to a nearly symmetrical neo-Jacobean block with projecting gabled wings. The house is built of local red Hensley stone with Ham Hill stone dressings, which from a distance has the unfortunate effect of making the house appear to be of brick, at least in some lights.  


Knightshayes Court: one of Burges' proposals for the interior (not executed). Image: National Trust

Burges concentrated his energies on the interior, for which he produced a romantic and imaginative volume of 53 designs in 1873, but the family lost their nerve about the cost, and in 1875, when only a small part of the interior had been completed, Burges was dismissed and the decorator John Didlee Crace was brought into complete the interior less imaginatively and more economically; his work was executed between 1875 and 1882.  


William Burges
Subsequent generations found even these tamer interiors hard to live with, and they were extensively altered and toned down, although the National Trust has reinstated some features since 1973.  The entrance porch leads into the medieval-style Great Hall, which has an arch-braced roof. It originally had a screen too, but this was removed in 1914. At the dais end of the hall is a gallery with a stone balcony supported on local marble columns, from which the family could address the assembled tenantry on great occasions. Behind the gallery is the staircase (by Burges, apart from the finials), which has a large chimneypiece with corbels carved by Thomas Nicholls, which was part of the original scheme.  The main living rooms face south: the dining room has decoration by Crace including a painted ceiling and a frieze with quotations from Burns; the octagonal morning room has a beamed ceiling, but Burges' wall decoration (a frieze and stained glass of figures from fairy tales) has gone; the library has a ceiling restored to Crace's design, but the Gothic bookcases have been cut down.  


Burges' design for the drawing room chimneypiece (not executed)
At the south-west corner of the house is the drawing room, where Burges intended a scheme dedicated to chivalry, including a chimneypiece illustrating the 'Assault on the Castle of Love' which was never made. Crace's plainer chimneypiece was removed in 1946 and replaced in 1981 by a marble one by Burges which was originally at Worcester College, Oxford. The ceiling is an original work by Burges, but had already been bordered over by 1889; it was uncovered in 1981.

The grounds of the house were laid out with terraces and formal gardens in the 1870s by Edward Kemp (1817-91), and the walled kitchen garden was designed by Burges with turreted corners: the conical caps on the corners are a recent restoration.  In the 1950s, Sir John and Lady Amory became keen gardeners (they were both subsequently awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour), and while simplifying the Victorian planting near the house, extended the garden to the south and east into the woods. Within a decade, some 160 trees were taken out and replaced by bulbs, flowers and shrubs to create a woodland garden. Nearer the house the old bowling green was excavated to form a lily pond, and two summer houses were built, fitted with carved wooden corbels designed by Burges and removed from their original positions in the house. See here for photographs of the interiors of the house and the gardens.

Descent: built for Benjamin Dickinson (fl. 1787); to son, John Dickinson; to son, Benjamin Bowden Dickinson (later Walrond) (1794-1851); to son, Sir John Walrond Walrond (1818-89), 1st bt.; sold 1868 to Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1829-1914), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (1864-1931), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1894-1972), 3rd bt.; bequeathed to The Knightshayes Garden Trust and The National Trust.

Calverleigh Court, Devon
Calverleigh Court. Image: Lewis Clarke. Licenced under this Creative Commons licence.

A handsome two-storey house of cream-coloured stucco, with deep projecting eaves, built in 1844-45 by George Wightwick for Joseph Chichester Nagle.  It replaced an earlier manor house near the church which is said to have been demolished in 1884. Wightwick's house has a north front with three widely-spaced bays and a single-storey Greek Doric portico. There is a canted bay on the east front.

Descent: Charles Joseph Chichester (1770-1837); to son, Joseph Chichester (later Nagle) (1792-1880); to son, Capt. Nugent John Chichester (1827-1908); to son, Philip Charles Chichester (d. 1930); sold to Sir William Heathcoat-Amory (1901-82), 5th bt.; to son, Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1942), 6th bt.

Heathcoat-Amory family of Knightshayes Court


John Heathcoat
Heathcoat, John (1783-1861). Son of Francis Heathcoat of Long Whatton (Leics), farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Burton, born at Duffield (Derbys), 7 August 1783. Apprenticed to the hosiery trade in Derbyshire; as a journeyman moved to Nottingham where he worked for Leonard Elliott, framesmith, and soon bought his master's business with a loan of £20,000; designed and patented a machine for manufacturing lace which was described as 'the most complicated machine ever produced' at the time; in 1805 he moved to Loughborough (Leics) where he established a lace factory; in partnership with Charles Lacy, 1809-16 and greatly expanded the business, but his mill was destroyed by a Luddite mob in 1816; relocated to Tiverton (Devon) where he bought a disused woollen mill and re-established his business; in partnership with John Boden, 1816-21; continued to make mechanical innovations and improvements until his retirement in 1843. MP for Tiverton, 1832-59; paid for the building of Tiverton British Schools, 1843. He married, September 1802, Ann (d. 1831), daughter of William Cauldwell of Hathern (Leics) and widow of John Chamberlain (d. 1797), and had issue:
(1) Ann Heathcoat (d. 1833), married, 19 August 1826, Samuel Amory (1784-1857) (q.v.) and had issue one son and one daughter; 
(2) Eloise Heathcoat (1806-80); died unmarried, 19 December 1880; her will was proved 19 January 1881 (estate under £30,000);
(3) Caroline Heathcoat(1810-77), married Ambrose Brewin (1811-55), partner in John Heathcoat & Co.; died at Cannes (France), 22 May 1877;
He lived at Bolham House near Tiverton.
He died 18 January 1861 and was buried at Taunton, 24 January 1861. His will was proved 16 February 1861 (estate under £180,000).

Amory, Samuel (1784-1857). Son of Samuel Amory (d. 1799) of London, banker, and his wife Martha, daughter of Thomas Ellis. London lawyer; in partnership with John Coles to 1839 and later with Isaac Sewell and Samuel Moores; associated with John Heathcoat & Co. He married, 19 August 1826, Anne (d. 1833), daughter of John Heathcoat (1783-1861) and had issue:
(1) Sarah Anne Amory (1827-69), born 7 July 1827; married, 9 January 1847, John Ingram Travers (d. 1866) of London, wholesale grocer and shipowner, and had issue; died 17 April 1869;
(2) Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1829-1914), 1st bt. (q.v.).
He lived at The Priory, Homerton (Middx) and in the City of London.
He died 17 November 1857 and was buried with his wife in the Heathcoat family vault at Tiverton church; his will was proved 8 December 1857. His wife died 1 January 1833.

Heathcoat-Amory, Sir John (1829-1914), 1st baronet. Son of Samuel Amory (1784-1857) and his wife Anne, daughter of John Heathcoat, born 4 May 1829. Major in 1st Devon Royal Volunteers; Liberal MP for Tiverton, 1868-85; JP and DL for Devon, Master of Staghounds, 1896-1914. He changed his surname from Amory to Heathcote-Amory by royal licence, 28 February 1874, and was created a baronet, 21 March 1874. He married, 6 April 1863, Henrietta Mary (1841-1923), daughter of William Unwin, clerk at the Colonial Office, of Dover Street, London and Putney (Surrey), and had issue:
(1) John Murray Amory (b. & d. 1864), born 27 and died 30 March 1864;
(2) Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (1865-1931), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(3) Muriel Mary Heathcoat-Amory (1867-1939), born 18 June 1867; married, 15 October 1891, Charles Robert Sydenham Carew MP (1853-1939) of Collipriest House (Devon) and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 4 March 1939;
(4) Harry William Ludovic Heathcoat-Amory (1870-1945), born 7 June 1870; DL for Somerset; educated at Eton; Capt. in Coldstream Guards; Lt-Col. of 4th Battn, Somerset Light Infantry, 1916; JP and DL for Somerset; married 1st, 1 November 1898, Evelyn Mary (d. 1929), daughter of Edward James Stanley MP and had issue one son and two daughters; and 2nd, 9 April 1931, Marjorie Una (d. 1973), daughter of Rev. Edgar Astley Milne of Chilfrome (Dorset) and widow of Edward Parkes Gundry (d. 1926); died 22 December 1945;
(5) Christal Anne Lucy Amory (1872-74), born 7 September 1872; died in infancy, 25 February 1874;
(6) Dorothy Helen Heathcoat-Amory (1876-1942), born 25 May 1876; married, 20 April 1899, Louise de las Casas (d. 1941) of Elliscombe House, Wincanton (Somerset), son of Julian Clemente de las Casas y Iturbe; died 24 May 1942;
(7) Geoffrey Heathcoat-Amory (1877-81), born 12 November 1877; died young, 15 October 1881;
(8) Ludovic Heathcoat-Amory (1881-1918), born 11 May 1881; educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford; undertook tour of South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand with Edgar Frederick Lindley-Wood (later 1st Earl of Halifax), 1904; served in Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry attached to Royal Artillery in WW1 (Lt., 1914; Major, 1916; Staff-Captain, 1917); married, 12 July 1911, Mary Stuart (d. 1977), daughter of James Fitzgerald Bannatyne of Haldon (Devon) and had issue three sons; died of wounds received in action at Bayonvilliers (France), 25 August 1918; will proved 10 May 1919 (estate £42,944);
(9) Mary Christal Heathcoat-Amory (1882-1951), born 9 September 1882; JP for Devon; married, 24 July 1907, Brig-Gen. the Hon. Lesley James Probyn Butler CMG DSO (1876-1955) of the Irish Guards, son of Robert St. John Fitzwalter Butler, 16th Baron Dunboyne, and had issue one son and two daughters; died following a hunting accident, 27 February 1951; will proved 13 June 1951 (estate £12,713).
He purchased the Knightshayes estate in 1860, and employed William Burges to design a new house in 1869-75.
He died 26 May 1914. His widow died 8 November 1923; her will was proved 3 May 1924 (estate £3,124).

Heathcoat-Amory, Sir Ian (1865-1931) CBE, 2nd baronet. Second but eldest surviving son of Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1829-1914), 1st bt., and his wife, Henrietta Mary, daughter of William Unwin, born 16 April 1865. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Managing partner of John Heathcoat & Co., lace manufacturers; director of Alliance Assurance Co. and Parr's Bank; High Sheriff of Devon, 1924; alderman and vice-chairman of Devon County Council; JP and DL for Devon; appointed CBE 1917; MFH of Tiverton foxhounds, 1911-31. He married, 6 June 1893, Alexandra Georgina (1865-1942) OBE, daughter of Vice-Adm. Henry George Seymour CB and had issue:
(1) Sir John Heathcoat-Amory (1896-1972), 3rd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Sir Derick Heathcoat-Amory (1899-1981), 4th bt. & 1st Viscount Amory (q.v.)
(3) Sir William Heathcoat-Amory (1901-82), 5th bt. (q.v.);
(4) Brig. Roderick Heathcoat-Amory (1907-98) MC of Oswaldkirk Hall (Yorks), born 30 January 1907; educated at Eton; served in the Royal Dragoons, 1930-45 (MC 1942); commanded 15th Scottish Recce Regt and Northern Ireland Horse, 1945-46, Royal Dragoons, 1949-51 and 8th Armoured Brigade of Territorial Army, 1954-56 (Col., 1954; Brig., 1956); High Sheriff of Yorkshire, 1971-72; married, 28 April 1947, Sonia Myrtle (1921-99), daughter of Capt. Edward Conyngham Denison and widow of Maj. Edgar FitzGerald Heathcoat-Amory, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 21 July 1998.
He inherited the Knightshayes estate from his father in 1914.
He died as a result of a hunting accident, 4 January 1931. His widow died 28 October 1942.

Heathcoat-Amory, Sir John (1894-1972), 3rd baronet. Eldest son of Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (1865-1931), 2nd bt., and his wife Alexandra Georgina, daughter of Vice-Adm. Henry George Seymour, born 2 May 1894. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Served in WW1 with 4th Battn, Devonshire Regiment (Capt., 1917); ADC Personal Staff, 1918 (mentioned in despatches). Chairman and later President of John Heathcoat & Co, lace manufacturers; JP and DL for Devon; High Sheriff of Devon, 1942; Freeman of Tiverton, 1969; awarded Victoria Medal by Royal Horticultural Society, 1967. Married, 6 January 1937 Joyce (d. 1997) VMH, champion golfer, daughter of Herbert Newton Wethered of Brook (Surrey), but had no issue.
He inherited the Knightshayes estate from his father in 1931. At his death he bequeathed it to the National Trust.
He died 22 November 1972. His widow died 18 November 1997.

Heathcoat-Amory, Sir Derick (1899-1981), 4th baronet and 1st Viscount Amory. Second son of Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (1865-1931), 2nd bt., and his wife Alexandra Georgina, daughter of Vice-Adm. Henry George Seymour, born 26 December 1899. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1921); member of Devon County Council, 1932-51; DL 1962-81; Lt-Col. in Royal Artillery; on General Staff in WW2. Conservative MP for Tiverton, 1945-60; Minister for Pensions, 1951-53; Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, 1954-58; Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1958-60; High Commissioner in Canada, 1961-63; Chairman of Medical Research Council, 1960-61 and 1965-69, County Councils Association, 1960-, London Federation of Boys Clubs, 1963-; director of Hudson's Bay Company, 1963 (Governor, 1965); Chancellor of Exeter University, 1972-81; President of John Heathcoat & Co., 1973-81. Received honorary doctorates from Exeter University (LLD 1959), Oxford University (DCL 1973) and McGill University (DC 1961); freeman of Tiverton and high steward of South Molton. He was appointed to the Privy Council, 1953 and created 1st Viscount Amory on his retirement from Parliament, 1 September 1960; GCMG 1961; KG 1968. He was unmarried and without issue.
He lived at Chevithorne Barton.
He died 20 January 1981, when his peerage became extinct.

Heathcoat-Amory, Lt-Col. Sir William (1901-82) DSO, 5th baronet. Third son of Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (1865-1931), 2nd bt., and his wife Alexandra Georgina, daughter of Vice-Adm. Henry George Seymour, born 19 August 1901. Educated at Eton and RMC Sandhurst. Served in Kings Royal Rifle Corps 1921-48 (Lt-Col., 1942); ADC to General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, 1937; with regiment in North Africa, Italy and Normandy in WW2; member of Hon. Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms, 1952-66. He married, 20 April 1935, Margaret Isabella Dorothy Evelyn (d. 1997) JP, daughter of Col. Sir Arthur Havelock James Doyle, 4th bt., and had issue:
(1) Diana Chrystal Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1938) of Chateau d'Angludet, Cantenac (France), born 3 November 1938; married, 24 February 1962, Peter Allan Sichel and has issue five sons and one daughter;
(2) Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1942) (q.v.);
(3) twin, Charles William Heathcoat-Amory (1945-2016), born 29 October 1945; educated at Eton; Captain in Royal Green Jackets; married 1st, 7 June 1977, Harmony Joanna, daughter of Malcolm Lyell and and had issue two sons; married 2nd, 1988 (div. 1991) Hon. Angela Jane, daughter of James Hugh Myles Borwick, 4th Baron Borwick; married 3rd, 1991, Diana Elizabeth Mann; died 20 November 2016;
(4) twin, Catherine Elizabeth Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1945), born 29 October 1945; married 1st, 8 July 1967 (div. 1975) Michael Godfrey Martin Groves, son of Lt-Col. Henry Basil Melvin Groves MC and had issue two sons, and 2nd, 1977, David Alan Drummond Cavender.
He lived at Calverleigh Court.
He died 27 August 1982. His widow died 19 March 1997.

Heathcoat-Amory, Sir Ian (b. 1942), 6th baronet. Elder son of Sir William Heathcoat-Amory (1901-82), 5th bt. and his wife Margaret Isabella Dorothy Evelyn, daughter of Col. Sir Arthur Havelock James Doyle, 4th bt., born 3 February 1942. Educated at Eton; member of Devon County Council, 1973-85; JP for Devon, 1980-93. He married, 10 June 1972, (Frances) Louise, daughter of (Jocelyn Francis) Brian Pomeroy, and had issue:
(1) William Francis Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1975), born 19 July 1975; married, 2011, Tatiana Rose, daughter of Maj. Simon Sloane of Ash Priors (Somerset) and has issue two sons and one daughter;
(2) Harry James Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1977), born 30 April 1977;
(3) Patrick Thomas Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1979), born 29 October 1979; married 29 September 2012 at Nettlebed (Oxon), Thierry, daughter of Paul Kelaart, and had issue a son;
(4) Benjamin David Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1983), born 22 August 1983.
He lives at Calverleigh Court, Tiverton (Devon)
Now living.

Sources
Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 2003, pp. 1853-4; Country Life, 18 July-1 August 1985; National Trust guidebook; B. Cherry & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Devon, 2nd edn., 1989, pp. 243, 526-8; Parks Agency, The setting of Knightshayes Park and Garden, 2007; J.M. Crook, William Burges and the High Victorian Dream, 2nd edn., 2013, pp. 301-05.

Location of archives
Heathcoat family of Tiverton: family and lace-making business papers, 1797-1970 [Devon Heritage Centre, 4302B]
Heathcoat-Amory family of Knightshayes Court, baronets: deeds and estate papers, 1596-1851 [Private collection: enquiries to Devon Heritage Centre]; designs by William Burges for Knightshayes Court [The National Trust, Knightshayes].

Coat of arms
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Argent two Bars Gules on a Bend engrailed with Plain Cotises Sable two Annulets of the field (Amory);  2nd and 3rd, Vert three Piles one reversed in base between two others issuant from the chief each charged with a Pomme thereon a Cross of the second (Heathcoat)

Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 18 May 2014 and updated 25 November 2015, 22 June and 25 November 2016.

4 comments:

  1. Please note that the image shown as an unexecuted interior is actually of the Summer Smoking Room at Cardiff Castle - where it was very much executed!

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    1. Burges' designs for the summer smoking room bear some resemblance to but are not a realisation of his proposal for Knightshayes as far as I can see. The final version of the summer smoking room can be seen here: http://needleprint.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/le-smoking.html.

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  2. Your representation of John Heathcoat's manufactury being 'attacked by a mob of luddites' is a familiar and inaccurate one. It was attacked by a small group of former Luddites who were being paid by someone - they did not reveal who at their trial. However John Heathcoat's letter to the Mayor of Tiverton after the attack reveals who he thought to be behind it: "I have great apprehension of an immediate attack at this place also. In fact I believe the real cause of this mischief being done is principally, if not wholly, owing to the offence of removing here, and I have been informed upon undoubted authority that the Nottingham Lace Makers have sworn my entire destruction" Heathcoat was already in Tiverton at the time of the attack, and had already purchased the old wool mill in Westexe. He was moving here because the success of his frames and the money he was making from them was very unpopular with the lacemakers in Nottingham, as was his having his own manufacturies.

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    1. Thank you for this correction. As so often, the truth is a little more complex than the stories which families (and curators!) evolve for popular consumption.

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Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.