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The Stanhope family have an interesting lineage. The first earl of Harrington was the diplomatist and politician, William Stanhope (c. 1690 1756), a younger son of John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbyshire, and a brother of Charles Stanhope (1673-1760), an active politician during the reign of George I. His ancestor, Sir John Stanhope (d. 1638), was a half-brother of Philip Stanhope, 1st earl of Chesterfield. Educated at Eton, William Stanhope entered the army and served in Spain, but soon he turned his attention to more peaceful pursuits, went on a mission to Madrid and represented his country at Turin. When peace was made between England and Spain. In 1720 Stanhope became British ambassador to the latter country, and he retained this position until March 1727, having built up his reputation as a diplomatist during a difficult period. In 1729 he had some part in arranging the treaty of Seville between England, France and Spain, and for his services in this matter he was created Baron Harrington in January 1730. Later in the same year he was appointed secretary of state for the northern department under Sir Robert Walpole, but, like George II, he was anxious to assist the emperor Charles VI in his war with France, while Walpole favoured a policy of peace. Although the latter had his way Harrington remained secretary until the great ministers fall in 1742, when he was transferred to the office of president of the council and was created earl of Harrington and Viscount Petersham. In 1744, owing to the influence of his political allies, the Pelhams, he returned to his former post of secretary of state, but he soon lost the favour of the king, and this was the principal cause why he left office in October 1746. He was lord lieutenant of Ireland from 1747 to 1751, and he died in London on the 8th of December 1756. The earl's successor was his son, William (1719-1779), who entered the army, was wounded at Fontenoy and became a general in 1770. He was a member of parliament for about ten years and he died on the 1st of April 1779. This earls wife Caroline (1722-1784), daughter of Charles Fitzroy, 2nd duke of Grafton, was a noted beauty, but was also famous for her eccentricities. Their elder son, Charles (1753-I829), who became the 3rd earl, was a distinguished soldier. He served with the British army during the American War of Independence and attained the rank of general in 1802. From 1805 to 1812 he was commander-in-chief in Ireland; he was sent on diplomatic errands to Vienna and to Berlin, and he died at Brighton on the I5th of September 1829. Charles Stanhope, 4th earl of Harrington (1780-1851), the eldest son of the 3rd earl, was known as Lord Petersham until he succeeded to the earldom in 1829. He was very well known in society owing partly to his eccentric habits; he dressed like the French king Henry IV, -and had other personal peculiarities. He married the actress, Maria Foote, but when he died in March 1851 he left no sons, and his brother Leicester Fitzgerald Charles (1784-1862) became the 5th earl. This nobleman was a soldier and a politician of advanced views, who is best known as a worker with Lord Byron in the cause of Greek independence. He was in. Greece in 1823 and 1824, where his relations with Byron were not altogether harmonious. He wrote A Sketch of the History and Influence of the Press in British India (1823); and Greece in 1823 and 1824 (English edition 1824, American edition 1825). His son Sydney Seymour Hyde, 6th earl (1845-1866), dying unmarried, was succeeded by a cousin, Charles Wyndham Stanhope (1809-1881), as 7th earl, and in 188I the latter's son Charles Augustus Stanhope (b. 1844) became 8th earl of Harrington. This is most likely the Earl pictured here. Born plain Charles Augustus Stanhope, in 1866 he became Viscount Petersham until, in 1881, he became 8th Earl of Harrington. On 7 May 1866 he matriculated at Oxford. In 1869 he married Eva, a daughter of 2nd Lord Carrington, but their marriage remained childless. In 1907 he became Yeomanry A.D.C. to the king which he was until he died in 1917 at age seventy-three. His death from blood-poisoning resulted from burns incurred in his engineer's workshop. His widow survived him until 1919. Succeeding him were Dudley Henry Eden Stanhope, who became the 9th Earl of Harrington (1859-1928), Charles Joseph Leicester Stanhope, 10th Earl of Harrington (1887-1929), William Henry Leicester Stanhope, 11th Earl of Harrington (1922-1993), Charles Henry Leicester Stanhope, 12th Earl of Harrington (b. 1945). Elvaston Castle and the surrounding parkland was the seat of the Earls of Harrington until 1939. The gothic-style castle was designed around an older jacobean building for the 3rd Earl of Harrington in the early 19th century by the architect James Wyatt, although Wyatt himself did not live to see his designs carried out. The 3rd Earl also wanted to see a new landscaped garden to go with his rebuilt castle, and offered the commission to a famous landscape gardener of the time, Lancelot (Capability) Brown. Brown, however, turned down the invitation because the area was so flat, and so it was left to the 4th Earl Charles to finish the work at Elvaston. Charles was quite a character. When he inherited his title in 1829 he had earned himself a reputation as a dandy and Regency buck. He was a trend setter, and attracted the friendship of the Prince Regent, who copied his clothes, tea drinking, and addiction to snuff, the Earl had 365 snuff boxes, one to use on each day of the year! He designed many of his own clothes, and many of his fashions were copied, however odd. In 1831 Charles married Maria Foote. She was 17 years his junior, an actress and an unmarried mother (neither of which were socially acceptable at that time). Although their love affair had begun in the 1820s, marriage had been out of the question while Charles's father was alive, and the affair was a favourite topic of society gossips. The Earl was devoted to Maria, however, and it has been suggested that the gardens he commissioned at Elvaston were his tribute to their love (The inside of the Moorish temple in the Alhambra garden was decorated with symbols of the chivalric love of a knight for his lady, and there was even a statue of the couple showing an adoring Charles at Maria's feet!). The gardens were created for Charles the 4th Earl of Harrington by William Barron and a team of 90 gardeners between 1830 and the Earl's death in 1851. Barron's design created a series of theme gardens to the south of the castle, including an Italian garden based on designs from Tuscany, and the Alhambra garden which included a Moorish temple. The bower garden, which became known as the Garden of the Fair Star, had a monkey puzzle tree in a star shaped bed at its centre, as well as many statues and green and yellow yew trees clipped into different shapes. Barron also planted several avenues of trees and constructed a large lake on the site (where, incidentally, some of the scenes in Women in Love were filmed). Charles was impatient to see his new garden take shape, and so to meet his demands Barron pioneered a method of moving mature trees from one place to another. Some of the yews which became part of the gardens at Elvaston were already hundreds of years old, and were transplanted over distances of many miles to reach Elvaston. By 1850 Barron had planted examples of every species of European conifer then known at Elvaston, as well as an avenue of limes which led to the Golden Gates (SeeDRBY001645). These gates, which had previously adorned the royal palaces at Madrid and Versailles, had been acquired by the 3rd Earl of Harrington in 1819. Under the 4th Earl the gardens at Elvaston remained a private place for the Earl himself and his wife. It had to wait for the succession of Leicester Stanhope as the 5th Earl of Harrington before the gardens were opened to the public. When the gardens were opened thousands of people visited them despite the rather high admission fee of three shillings, often travelling to Elvaston on special excursion trains. During and after the Second World War the castle at Elvaston was home to a teacher training college, evacuated for safety from Derby. Every room in the castle was needed to accommodate over 150 staff and students: the cellar was used as an air raid shelter, and the Hall of the Fair Star became a lecture room and common-room. The castle and grounds are now maintained, as one of the first country parks, by Derbyshire County Council. The grade two star listed gardens are recognised as being of national importance, and Derbyshire County Council would like to restore them to their original state.