The Lucy family of Charlecote Park

Portrait of Sir Thomas Lucy III and family at Charlecote Park

The Lucy family has shaped the house you see today through wealth and loss. There are portraits of every generation of the family throughout the house and through these you can discover their colourful stories.

The cultured, prolific Lucys

The 'new' Charlecote, completed by the first Sir Thomas Lucy in 1558 was one of the first great Elizabethan houses. His son, also Thomas, married Constance Kingsmill who brought a dowry of £40,000 and, ultimately, 14 children to Charlecote.

The third Sir Thomas was a lover of culture – fond of music and theatre, putting on performances in the Great Hall, and a friend of poet John Donne. His wife Alice shared his love of books and her library was renowned as it still is today.

Take a look at the family portrait over the fireplace in the Great Hall which shows Sir Thomas III and Alice with seven of their 13 children.

King or Cromwell?

During the Civil War Thomas's son, Spencer Lucy, initially sided with the King. Then the Lucys bribed their way to favour with Parliament during the tenure of Spencer's brother Robert.
Finally, the third brother Richard inherited and allied himself with Charles II during the Restoration. The ‘reconciliation’ was helped by the payment of a hefty fine of £3,513 – equivalent to the Lucy family’s entire annual income from their estates and worth around £5.5 million today.
Richard’s son Thomas died of smallpox in 1684, and within six months his widow Catherine had left Charlecote with most of the family jewels and secretly married Charles II’s illegitimate son, George Fitzroy, Duke of Northumberland.
Charlecote then passed to the youngest brother Sir Fulke Lucy and eventually to his son, Colonel George Lucy.

Triumph and disaster

In the early 1700s, Colonel George Lucy completed work on an elaborate formal garden and used the wealth of his second wife, Jane Bohun, to pay architect Francis Smith of Warwick to work on modernising the house.
Colonel Lucy’s death in 1721 left no will, no son and no money. His building work had built up considerable debts and he lost money in the financial collapse of the South Sea Bubble the previous year.

The decadent bachelor squire

After a quiet couple of decades, in 1744 Charlecote was inherited by the Colonel’s nephew, another George Lucy – a wild bachelor with a love of travel, fashion and married women.
From his travels in Portugal in 1755 he brought back the first flock of Jacob sheep in the UK to Charlecote’s parkland. He called in ‘Capability’ Brown to work on the gardens and in 1769 he helped revive the story of Shakespeare poaching Charlecote deer at the Shakespeare Jubilee organised by David Garrick in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The country parson

When George’s cousin the Reverend John Hammond inherited Charlecote at the age of 52 he took the additional name of Lucy and married Maria Lane who was 24 years his junior.

He preferred hunting, fishing and a good dinner to preaching – and was not afraid of a brawl either. He spent thousands trying to obtain the parliamentary seat of Fowey in Cornwall for his son George but without success.

In 1823 that son, George, inherited Charlecote and married Mary Elizabeth Williams of Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales – and it is their Charlecote that you see when you visit today.

You can find out more about the Lucy family whose portraits you see throughout Charlecote by talking to our friendly room guides.