The paintings at West Lodge Park are mainly portraits from the late seventeenth century, collected by T. Edward Beale CBE following two themes, (a) the works of his namesake the artist Mary Beale and (b) the Court of King Charles II, of which the owner of West Lodge Park, Henry Coventry, was a member.

Some of the portraits purchased by Edward Beale at Sotheby’s and Christie’s around 30 years ago are now attributed to other artists, but the collection includes some paintings known by documentary evidence to be by Mary Beale, and a rare example of a picture signed by her. The portraits in the front hall in their handsome matching frames are particularly fine.

If the people in the portraits could step out of their frames today, many of them would know each other. King Charles II would remember Lady Fairfax whose husband invited him to return to the throne of England, his able Secretary of State, Henry Coventry, his loyal courtier John Evelyn and his voluptuous mistress Barbara Castlemaine, and the King may well have cast an appreciative eye over his queen’s lady in waiting, Margaret Blagge.

Trevor Beale

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