Creative Women

Belton House shawl garden watercolour by Sophia Cust, Lady Tower

Belton shines a light on the creative lives of four talented women closely associated with the Brownlow family.

Creative Women

This year we're sharing the stories of four women whose lives are woven into the spirit of Belton, Sophia, Marian, Florence and Nina. Examples of their amazing work are on display in the house and gardens and can be viewed by following the Creative Women trail, copies of which can be collected at visitor reception.

The history of women has often been overshadowed, lost even, because of a lack of independence and power. Until the latter half of the nineteenth century, when England’s first ladies college opened, and women were first admitted to university, formal education for most girls was minimal. Women were required to learn how to keep a home, raise a family and little else.

Aristocratic women were more fortunate because they were also expected to be accomplished in the arts in order to attract a good husband, and they had the privilege of a bespoke if limited, education.

A pre-ordained life as a mother and homemaker, therefore, meant that intelligent women often channelled their ambition into the home, family, art, music or other approved pastimes. And because the wives of wealthy men were not expected to work, their artistic or literary achievements, while respected and admired, would never have earned them the title of ‘professional’.

Each in their own remarkable way, these four women of Belton, Sophia, Marian, Florence and Nina, found a release for their talent and ambition. They created legacies worth sharing for the rich colour they have brought to the history of this place.

By focusing on their creative output, we’ll show how their talent and intellect made a mark on the history of Belton. Visitors can learn more about these women on self-led trails and see their work presented throughout the house and gardens.