The talks

London was the epicentre of commerce and wealth due the Thames which attracted royalty, aristocrats, artists, writers and wealthy property owners. The legacy of the luminaries was a rich tapestry of connections of poets, painters, politicians and princes that made the area the place to be. Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust and English Heritage’s Marble Hill have organised a series of twelve free virtual talks over two seasons of six talks beginning in September.

Additionally as part of the Richmond Literature Festival a further talk will take place on the 11th November about the Literary Landscape.

Experts will explore, explain and offer insight about a luminary, their rich tapestry of connections that brought princes, poets, painters and politicians. More information about the talks and the speakers can be found on TicketSource here

London Luminaries: autumn series

20th October: Kew Palace
George III: the mind behind the myth

21st October: Garrick’s Temple
David Garrick: an actor and his time

27th October: Ham House and Garden
Wilbraham, 6th Earl of Dysart: Patron and collector of the art

28th October: Chiswick House and Garden
The private life of Chiswick House

3rd November: Pitzhanger Manor
Painters, printers and personalities: Soane the entertainer at Pitzhanger

4th November: Pope’s Grotto
Poetry, painting and Alexander Pope

London Luminaries: winter series

19th January: Orleans House
The People’s Collection: the story behind Richmond Borough’s art
collections

20th January: Marble Hill
Capricci and Conversations. The painting collection at Marble Hill

26th January: Strawberry Hill.
Patron and Painter: Horrace Walpole and John Giles Eccardt

27th January: Hogarth’s House.
Hogarth vs everyone

2nd February: Turner’s House.
J.M.W. Turner and the ‘sister arts’: poetry and painting

3rd February: Boston Manor House.
The benefits of befriending a Prince

Autumn Series

(October-November 2021)

George III: the mind behind the myth

Date: 20th October 2021
Partner: Kew Palace
Speaker:Rachel Mackay

Last year marked 200 years since the death of King George III, the monarch most strongly associated with Kew Palace. It was in this (then rural) riverside retreat that the young George spent much of his childhood, learning the art of kingship under the tutelage of some of the most celebrated theologians, architects and musicians of the day. In adulthood, he supported the development of the botanic gardens we know today, and this peaceful country estate became a beloved summer home for his ever-expanding family. However, this idyllic retreat also has less happy associations. It was at Kew that George was treated for periods of mental and physical ill health, resulting in his life and achievements being almost entirely eclipsed by the story of his still poorly understood ‘madness’. 

In 2021, Kew Palace staged an exhibition programme to re-explore the story of George’s mental health through a contemporary lens, finding fresh perspectives and surprising common ground with the experience of many people today. In this talk, Kew Palace Manager Rachel Mackay will separate the man from the myth, exploring objects and spaces within the Palace that reveal the humanity behind George’s story and look at how historic attitudes to mental ill health still shape our understanding today. 

Rachel Mackay is the Manager of Historic Royal Palaces at Kew, which includes Kew Palace, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, the Royal Kitchens and the Great Pagoda. These buildings are normally open to the public from April-September, and together, tell the story of intimate royal life at Kew in the 18th century. In 2018, Rachel led on the opening of the newly restored Great Pagoda following a Historic Royal Palaces project to restore the building to its original 18th century appearance. Alongside her work at HRP Kew, Rachel also provides free museum and heritage sector support through her website therecoveryroomblog.com, and in 2020 was named one of the world’s top 50 Museum Influencers by Blooloop.

David Garrick: an actor and his time.

Date: 21st October 2021
Partner:Garrick’s Temple
Speaker:Clive Francis

David Garrick was regarded as the most iconic actor of the 18th century, and possibly the finest influence upon the English Theatre. In 1754, he purchased Hampton House (now Garrick’s Villa) which overlooks the river Thames. In the gardens he oversaw the design of a Temple built in the Classical style popularised by the Italian architect Palladio with an Ionic portico. This he dedicated to his muse Shakespeare, being the one playwright whose works he had performed with the greatest acclaim. Garrick used the Temple to house his extensive collection of books and Shakespearean relics. For him it was a place of peaceful solitude where he could write and entertain his many friends. It is also a complete replica of the temple standing in the grounds of Chiswick House, which Garrick would have seen often during his courtship to Eva Maria Veigel. Chiswick House being at one time the home of Lord and Lady Burlington, guardians to Eva Maria, and where the Garricks spent their wedding night. The main subject of my talk will be to focus on Garrick’s life at Hampton and that of the fruitfulness of his marriage and his relationships with many of those close to him, be it the formidable, Dr Johnson or the unpredictable Horace Walpole.

Clive Francis is a successful caricaturist, playwright, and actor, having performed with both the RSC and the National Theatre and with over twenty performances in the West End. His most recent film appearances being The Crown, Official Secrets and the Lost City of Z. He became involved in Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare, whom he is now founder member of it’s restoration, back in 1998, when he helped raise the initial funding for its restoration and obtaining, thanks to the British Library, a replica of the statue to Shakespeare by Louis François Roubiliac. Garrick was extremely proud of his elegant house which he described, with typical understatement, as his ‘pretty place by ye Thames side.’

Wilbraham, 6th Earl of Dysart: Patron and collector of the Arts.

Date: 27th October 2021
Partner: Ham House and Garden
Speaker:Dr Hannah Mawdsley

After Ham House survived a period of seclusion and retrenchment under his reclusive father, Wilbraham Tollemache, 6th Earl of Dysart (1739-1821) sought to restore Ham House’s position as a locus of hospitality and cultivation. He returned much of the house and collection to its former seventeenth century splendour, as well as making his own mark through expanding both the estate and the collection. Queen Charlotte remarked after a visit to Ham in 1809 that it was ‘so fine a collection that to know and admire it as one ought to do, it would require many hours’. The 6th Earl was an enthusiastic supporter of the arts, himself a keen artist as well as a discerning collector of fine paintings. His patronage was extended to contemporary artists including Joshua Reynolds and John Constable with whom he developed close links. This support was continued after Wilbraham’s death by his sister and successor Louisa, 7th Countess of Dysart, who cultivated a close association with Constable and regularly invited him and his family to Ham. 

Dr Hannah Mawdsley is Property Curator for the National Trust’s Ham House and Garden, a 17th century Jacobean mansion on the bank of the River Thames near Richmond, London. She regularly contributes as an historical expert for television and radio.

The private life of Chiswick House.

Date: 28th October 2021
Partner:Chiswick House and gardens
Speaker:Nadege Forde-Vidal

Chiswick House has a wealth of well-known residents and visitors – from the renowned composer Handel to the infamous Duchess Georgiana. In this talk Nadege will explore the lives of some of Chiswick’s lesser-known, but equally colourful characters, and their connections to one another.

Nadege has been a member of the Chiswick House & Gardens team since April 2019. She holds a BA in Ancient History, and MAs in Egyptian Archaeology and Museum Studies from UCL. Nadege’s areas of special interest include Black presence in Britain in the early 18th century, the economic and social impact of ‘The Slave Trade’ on Britain from 18th century and how classical collecting during the colonial period reached its peak as a consequence of this increase in global maritime activity.

Painters, princes and personalities: Soane the entertainer at Pitzhanger.

Date: 3rd November 2021
Partner:Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery
Speaker:Clare Gough, Director, Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery

Sir John Soane designed Pitzhanger as his country house between 1800-1804 to create a showcase for his architectural skills, as well as his growing collection of artefacts.  It soon became his elegant stage set for the entertainment of friends, celebrities and potential clients: he threw grand garden parties and held fascinating dinners for the beau monde of the time.  Guests included the artist JMW Turner, a fellow Academician, with whom Soane enjoyed fishing in the lake at Pitzhanger, and numerous other personalities from the worlds of finance, politics, theatre, journalism and literature. In this talk, Clare Gough will tour the entertaining rooms at Pitzhanger Manor, introducing some of the personalities that graced Soane’s table, and cast light on how Soane used these parties to show off his skill as a designer to potential clients.

Clare Gough is Director of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery. She joined Pitzhanger in 2016 and oversaw the £12M three-year conservation project to restore this rare and extraordinary example of Sir John Soane’s architecture to his original vision. The newly restored Manor and Gallery re-opened to the public in March 2019. Soane Restored, an exhibition that reveals the fascinating story of the restoration, runs at Pitzhanger until May 2022.

Poetry, painting and Alexander Pope

Date: 4th November 2021
Partner:Popes Grotto Preservation Trust
Speaker:Dr Judith Hawley

The eighteenth-century poet, Alexander Pope was a very painterly poet and also much depicted by painters. He was acquainted with artists such as Godfrey Kneller and studied painting with Charles Jervas. His villa in Twickenham was lavishly decorated with portraits, mostly of his wide circle of friends. He also painted pictures in words. Many of his most famous poems, including The Rape of the Lock (1712-14) and The Dunciad (1728-43) are intensely visual. This talk will explore the connections between Pope and painters and present his Epistle to a Lady as a tour of a virtual picture gallery.

Judith Hawley is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London and frequently appears on BBC radio and TV. She is a Trustee of the Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust. Her research interests range from gin to Grub street and she has a particular interest in the history of the amateur performance.

Richmond Literature Festival

(November 2021)

Twickenhamshire and the Thames: Richmond Borough’s Luminary Heritage Landscape

Date: 11th November 2021
Partner:Popes Grotto Preservation Trust
Turners House 
Strawberry Hill
Orleans House Gallery
Marble Hill
Speakers:Chris Sumner
Professor Judith Hawley
Emily Parker
Ricky Pound
Tim Corum
Carol Tucker

For the first time the stories of the historic houses and gardens of the Arcadian Thames have been brought together in one fine volume; the lost houses as well as those that have been saved.

London Luminaries Trust will host an online lecture with Twickenhamshire’s co-author Chris Sumner, and speakers from five of the surviving properties, Strawberry Hill House, Alexander Pope’s Grotto, Orleans House Gallery, Marble Hill House and Turner’s House. They will reveal the properties’ strong connection to the River Thames and to each other, and explain how Twickenham became a vibrant site of 18th century cultural life. Not only will they discuss the past, they will provide exciting glimpses of their plans for the future, plans which involve the communities of Twickenham, Richmond and beyond.

Winter Series

(January-February 2022)

The People’s Collection: the story behind Richmond Borough’s art collections

Date: 19th January 2022
Partner:Orleans House Gallery
Speaker:Tim Corum

In 2022 Orleans House Gallery, the home of Richmond Borough’s art collection, will be 50.  This significant anniversary provides an excuse to explore the formation of the collection. Many local authorities in the UK own an art collection. Richmond’s Art Collection includes a wide range of artworks which together tell a fascinating story about the borough and its people. This talk will seek to answer the questions: who were the people (luminaries) behind the creation of the collection, why was it formed and what is their legacy? 

Tim Corum has worked in the arts for over 30 years, principally in museums and galleries, developing museums exhibitions and festivals at Oldham, Leeds, Bristol, the Horniman in London and now with Richmond Arts Service. In Leeds and Oldham, he worked on developing international art programmes and a series of major capital projects. In Bristol Tim led the development of the City Musuem and Art Gallery, encouraging artists to intervene in and reframe the museum and art gallery. Though most widely known for the exhibition Banksy versus Bristol Museum, this programme also embraced a diversity of projects with both local and international partners. At the same time, he developed a new international contemporary art collection, building on Bristol’s rich historic art collection. He also led the creative team that developed the new museum M Shed. In 2015, Tim became a director at the Horniman, where his work focussed on developing participatory programmes bringing artists and scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds together with communities to create exhibitions and festivals that cast new light on the museum’s internationally significant collections. Tim moved to Richmond during the Pandemic to lead the Borough’s Arts Service and direct the development of Orleans House Gallery. He brings a commitment to working in participation with the public and artists along with a love of history and the environment.

Capricci and Conversations: The Painting Collection at Marble Hill

Date: 20th January 2022
Partner:English Heritage
Speaker:Dr Tessa Kilgarriff

The painting collection formed by Marble Hill’s first owner, Henrietta Howard, was relatively modest. Henrietta only owned 34 paintings including 5 ‘capricci’, fanciful views of Rome by Giovanni Paolo Panini. This talk will not only explore Henrietta’s collecting habits but will also examine how the current collection offers an insight into the 18th-century British art world. In particular, it will focus on the exquisite small scale portraits by Gawen Hamilton, Francis Hayman, and Hubert François Gravelot.

Dr Tessa Kilgarriff is Curator of Collections and Interiors at English Heritage with responsibility for two 18th-century villas, Chiswick House and Marble Hill House. A specialist in eighteenth and nineteenth-century British art, she received her PhD from the University of Bristol. Prior to joining English Heritage, she was Assistant Curator at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in Compton, Surrey and has previously completed curatorial projects at the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

Patron and Painter: Horace Walpole and John Giles Eccardt

Date: 26th January 2022
Partner:Strawberry Hill Trust
Speaker:Dr Martin Postle

In 1746 Horace Walpole published his poem, ’The Beauties: an Epistle to Mr Eckardt the Painter’. From that moment until the artist’s death some thirty years later, Walpole became the principal patron of the German born John Giles Eccardt, commissioning from him a series of small-scale portraits of himself and his coterie, which he hung in the intimate surroundings of his blue bed-chamber at Strawberry Hill. This talk tells the story of Walpole’s patronage of Eccardt, and the cast of characters – players, poets and politicians – that peopled his portraits.

Dr Martin Postle is a Trustee of the Strawberry Hill Trust and Deputy Director at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Between 1998 and 2007 Martin was  Head of British Art to 1900 at Tate.  He holds a PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London, and an MA in British Romantic Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Martin’s research interests and publications focus principally on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British Art, including portraiture, landscape, country house collections, and the history of art academies. He has curated numerous exhibitions, including monographic shows on Joshua Reynolds, Johan Zoffany, Richard Wilson, George Stubbs, and Stanley Spencer. Most recently, Martin has completed a major online research project for the Paul Mellon Centre, entitled Art and the Country House, available at http://artandthecountryhouse.com/

Hogarth vs Everyone

Date: 27th January 2022
Partner:Hogarth’s House
Speaker:John Collins

William Hogarth has been described as the father of English painting but over the course of his career he came into conflict with many people. In this talk we will explore some of Hogarth’s most high profile conflicts with contemporaries on everything from art theory to social campaigning and more.

John Collins is the Senior Manager for Historic Houses at the London Borough of Hounslow and has overseen Hogarth’s House since it reopened to the public after a major refurbishment in 2011.  Most recently John has been a key figure in the Mulberry Garden project at Hogarth’s House, a five year National Lottery Heritage Fund funded scheme which saw a new learning studio built and a redesigned exhibition garden both open to the public in 2021.  Before this John was Community Development Manager at Imperial War Museum North and has a background in the field of community engagement with historic sites and their collections

J.M.W. Turner and the ‘sister arts’: poetry and painting

Date: 2nd February 2022
Partner:Turner’s House Trust
Speaker:Catherine Parry-Wingfield

Throughout his life the great landscape painter J.M.W. Turner absorbed poetry, from the classics to the work of poets of his own time, and strove to write poetry himself.  This talk will look at the way Turner used an abundant source of inspiration, and his deep understanding of the way that writers create pictures with words, to which he responded by creating visual poetry.  In his own words ‘painting and poetry reflect each other’s beauties’.

Catherine Parry-Wingfield is an art historian with a long career in teaching and lecturing, specialising in the visual arts of 18th and early 19th century Britain and Europe.  She was a trustee of Turner’s House Trust from its inception in 2005, and chair from 2013 to 2019, during which time she was actively engaged as a member of the conservation project team, particularly with the presentation of the interior.  She has written two booklets, J.M.W. Turner, R.A. –  the artist and his house at Twickenham and J.M.W. Turner and the ‘Matchless Vale of Thames’ (available from Turner’s House) and an article for The London Gardener, 2012, The Grounds of Sandycombe Lodge, J.M.W. Turner’s Country Retreat at Twickenham.

The Benefits of Befriending a Prince

Date: 3rd February 2022
Partner:Boston Manor House
Speaker:John Collins

In June 1834 King William IV and Queen Adelaide came for dinner at Boston Manor House. In this talk we will look not just at that occasion but also how the friendship between the House’s owners James and Jane Clitherow came about and saw them become the first commoners to host the King and Queen.

John Collins is the Senior Manager for Historic Houses at the London Borough of Hounslow. John has a background in community engagement with historic sites and their collections, a field in which he has worked since gaining his MA in Museum Studies from the University of Manchester. Before working in Hounslow, he was Community Development Manager at Imperial War Museum North.

John has overseen Boston Manor House since 2016 and has since 2018 been part of the team restoring , refurbishing and reinterpreting this fine Jacobean house which will reopen to visitors in Spring 2022 thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, English Heritage and many others.