Christmas at Belvoir Castle

Today’s article is rather different to my usual ones, as today’s is a rather early festive post and will be the last one for this year, as I’m taking a short break until  the new year, when I’ll return with plenty more tales from the Georgian period for you.

© Sarah Murden

I recently had the pleasure to visit the historic Belvoir Castle (pronounced Beaver), which stands above the Vale of Belvoir, on the outskirts of Grantham.

The castle originally dates back to the eleventh century and is the ancestral home of the Manners family, the Dukes of Rutland and remains so to this day, so needless to say it well and truly pre-dates the Georgian period, but of course, for me I was very keen to see anything that was of the Georgian era – I was not disappointed. Belvoir Castle is said by experts to be one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in the country.

©Sarah Murden

Apart from the stunning architecture and the festive decorations, I just thought I would share a couple of Romany stories connected to Belvoir, that you might find interesting, not about the nobility as such, however. The first originating in the Derby Mercury, 6 September 1771:

We have an account from the Vale of Belvoir, that a numerous family of gypsies lately took up their lodgings in a barn at Redmile Field, near Barnston. The noble duke riding with an attendant that way, to take an airing, was alarmed with the cries of woman in labour, and on enquiry finding the gypsey female in great distress, he very humanely sent his servant for immediate assistance, and soon after a cart with plenty of refreshments. And we are further informed that on Sunday the child (which was a boy) was publicly baptised, a plentiful dinner being served up in the barn to a numerous company, and his Grace standing godfather by proxy.

So far, I haven’t had any luck tracing this baptism, but there is very little to go on, apart from the child being a boy. There was a girl baptised at Redmile in the August of that year, Lydia Lovett, the daughter of Henry and Angeletta, travellers, so it’s perhaps reasonably safe to assume that whoever this child was, his parents were travelling with the Lovetts. In all likelihood the reference to the duke, would have been John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland, who we see pictured here:

John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland, by Charles Jervis, 1725, Belvoir Castle

Some ten plus years ago I came across this article in the Leicestershire Notes and Queries, also concerning a child and Belvoir Castle and a famous, or rather an infamous Romany family, who travelled around the East Midlands:

One of Absalom’s daughters, Beatta by name, was considered to be extremely handsome. A fine painting of her in a red cloak is at Belvoir Castle. Beatta had twenty-four children. On one occasion she was confined in camp at Goadby lane, and was frequently visited by Mrs. Norman, from the Hall, who stood godmother to the child, and it was named after her.

It has been possible to trace this child, she was named Adeliza Smith, her parents being Absolom Smith (1802-1865) and Beatta or Beatrice (1800-1856), Beatta being the daughter of another Absolom Smith. The Mrs Norman, in the story was the daughter of 4th Duke of Rutland, Lady Adeliza Elizabeth Gertrude Manners (1810-1877), who later married Reverend F. J. Norman.

I did contact Belvoir Castle at that time, but sadly they were unable to shed any light on such a portrait, so quite where it vanished to I and they have no idea, but I did look for it again on my visit, but with no luck, so presumably it was sold at some stage.

So, there appears to have been at least a couple of instances of the Manners family coming into close contact with the travelling Romany families of the East Midlands and I’m sure there must be more stories that haven’t come to light as yet.

©Sarah Murden

Anyway, I’ll leave to enjoy a final photograph of the festive decorations at Belvoir and wish you all seasons greetings and a very happy new year, but before I go I would also like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your continued support over the years, and to say that All Things Georgian has now achieved over  two million views, which is amazing – so  a massive THANK YOU 🙂

©Sarah Murden

If you have the opportunity to visit the castle, I can assure you that the walk up the very steep hill, is well worth the effort.

Also, just a final note to let you know that  with all the changes Twitter is undergoing right now, that should you wish to follow me on social media I can now also be found at Mastodon 

Featured Image

Belvoir Castle, Rutland by William Daniell. Courtesy of YCBA

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8 thoughts on “Christmas at Belvoir Castle

  1. pennyhampson2

    Thanks for this interesting article. I’ve been meaning to visit Belvoir Castle for some time, but your description of it has made me even more eager to see it. Adeliza is a great name that I haven’t come across before and I may well use it for one of my forthcoming heroines! Have a lovely Christmas break and I’m looking forward to reading more of your informative articles in 2023.

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    1. Sarah Murden

      You’re very welcome. Belvoir is well worth a visit and I’ll visit again away from the Christmas rush, so I can spend more time. There are some lovely portraits I’d like to look at more closely. You really should visit and the tea room in the house was lovely too. The Romany community did give their children some amazing names, mainly biblical, or links to nature and some which I’ve never come across before, but the choice of Adeliza shows the links to the family ‘at the big house’. Enjoy your Christmas and I’ll be back 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Doug

    Dear Sarah, Please know that your posts are always gratefully received. I am always amazed at the research that goes in to each one. When I trained as a teacher, the eighteenth century was one of my specialist topics. Then as a teacher I hardly ever got to teach it apart from when we did the Industrial Revolution of in more recent years the British Empire. Thank you for keeping the flag flying! Best wishes, Doug

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. Sarah Murden

      Thank you so very much for your kind words, Doug. I do think the 18th century should be part of the curriculum. Apart from IR it’s hardly touched upon, and yet it was such an important period of history, so I’ll keep plugging away at it right here 🙂

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  3. In my edition of the Diary of George Mushet ( Derbyshire Archaeological Society, 1982), p.14 the diarist, who was Scottish, records the following entry:
    ‘Wednesday 25th December 1805. Today was Christmas Day. The people in this country dressed their windows with Holand trees…’
    I have often wondered what sort of trees these were. Evidently, they were not the traditional Christmas trees, as these were introduced later from Germany. Mushet managed the ironworks at Alfreton, Derbyshire, which was not too far from Belvoir Castle.

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  4. Have a great Christmas break! And thank you very much for the interesting articles you provide us with. I have recently published two little blog articles myself, which will be followed by a report on my lecture recital, so I wouuld like to invote you to my blog, if you like.

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