This stunning portrait (rather different from the grey dresses Jane Eyre insisted she’d wear) is of Anne, Duchess of Chandos.
Henry Brydges, the 2nd Duke, first saw Anne at The Pelican Inn in Newbury in the early 1740s. One of the inn staff was beating his wife, Anne, and in an episode that could have come from a Hardy novel, taking her to market with a halter round her neck. The Duke intervened and married her himself in 1744, a couple of years later. Interestingly this doesn’t seem to have led to any social stigma, although I wonder if the fact that the Duke’s first wife had already given him three children and that the 1st Duke died a few months prior to this remarriage might have affected that.
The Chandos family made their money as paymasters of Marlborough’s army in the early 1700s, lost most of their fortune in the South Sea bubble and were patrons of Handel. Their country seat, Cannons, was one of the first private art collections to be visited by the public, being so popular that a ticketing system had to be introduced, but was dismantled and demolished in 1748. However, I note from Ashley Hicks’ Instagram that their chapel at Little Stanmore is still easily reached from central London. Time for a trip, I think.
First image via Wikipedia and the second from Visit Churches, which has more directions on how to reach the chapel.