The women of Baddesley Clinton

Self portrait by Rebecca Ferrers

2018 sees the centenary of Women’s Suffrage when many women were at last given the vote. The National Trust is celebrating this anniversary with a new programme called ‘Women and Power’. We hope that this programme will shine a light on women’s history at our places, giving a presence and profile to women’s stories throughout history, and creating a legacy of research and interpretation to benefit future audiences.

Baddesley Clinton has been a haven and a refuge for many people over the last five hundred years, but our stories have often been told from a male perspective, with their female counterparts resigned to the footnotes or margins of history. 

Anne Vaux as portrayed by Liv Tyler in the TV series "Gunpowder"
There are no contemporary portraits of Anne Vaux
Anne Vaux as portrayed by Liv Tyler in the TV series "Gunpowder"

Yet, Baddesley Clinton has been home to many female residents in its long, rich history. Women that have brought about great change to or for the property, have stared defiantly in the face of convention and broken boundaries in the bravery of their approaches in both big and small ways. Despite the centuries they are united unwittingly by their activism, their faith and their fight for voice. Their contributions should be recognised; their efforts celebrated as powerful partners on the historic stage. 

  • Anne Vaux, a loyal Catholic whose determination to adhere to her faith in an age of religious and political turmoil led her to great danger, yet she survived against all odds.
  • Bridget Willoughby, who suffered financially for her religion and challenged perceived injustices in the courts, taking on Parliament as well as her quarrelsome sons.
  • Lady Georgiana Chatterton, well-educated and well-travelled, who applied her curious nature of self-discovery to uneasy religious conversion and who spoke out through her writing.
  • Rebecca Ferrers, confident religious convert, who painted for the glorification of God and Baddesley, whilst discovering her voice in widowhood.
Rebecca Ferrers' portrait of Lady Chatterton, and her own self portrait
Chatterton and Ferrers
Rebecca Ferrers' portrait of Lady Chatterton, and her own self portrait

During 2018-2019 we hope to bring our visitors closer to these histories, challenging them to consider the roles these women undertook, the values and opinions of the time in which they lived, and how they compare to our own society today.

The Quartet in the Great Hall painted by R.D. Orpen
Rebecca, Marmion, Georgiana and Edward
The Quartet in the Great Hall painted by R.D. Orpen

Throughout this year and next we will be re-presenting the house to tell the stories of these four women. Keep an eye on these pages to find out when we will be opening our displays.