Lady Cecil - Mother of Nature exhibition

Illustrated design depicting Lady Cecil Rice

Welcome to Lady Cecil's Dinefwr. The 'Lady Cecil - Mother of Nature' exhibition will run until 30th September, 2018.

Many visitors to Dinefwr wander through our vast parkland without realising who was responsible for the landscape they are walking around. Many who take a trip around Newton House will see our model of a woman in the corner of the landscape room, but few will realise who she is. This summer we are looking to change that by celebrating the life and influence of Lady Cecil Rice.

Lady Cecil was born in July 1735 to William, Baron Talbot of Hensol and Mary de Cardonnel. She came to live at Dinefwr through her marriage to George Rice in 1756, and almost immediately they set about transforming Dinefwr. Gone were the traditional formal gardens of the 1600s; in their place a majestic naturalistic landscape. Cecil and George were influenced by Capability Brown, as so many were, but instead of getting the man himself to design their landscape they did it themselves.

Cecil did not just spend her time and money on her estate. Remarkably household accounts from her time at Dinefwr survive and illustrate the amount of help she gave to the local community. She provided money and clothes to the poor, helped local children into schools and supported many local good causes.

Cecil became 2nd Baroness Dynevor in 1782 after her father had created the title for her to inherit, ensuring that generations after Cecil would also be titled. She is the only woman to have ever held the title. After her husband, George, died Cecil managed the Dinefwr estate alone until her death in 1793, a remarkable feat for a woman of that period.

With our celebration of Lady Cecil this summer we hope to bring her out of the shadows and ensure her legacy continues to live on here at Dinefwr.

 

A copy of Lady Cecil's will

Research Blog: Volunteer archivist

Our volunteer archivist, Caroline, has been on the research trail to try and uncover more stories about Dinefwr's mother of nature.

Visit from the 27th July – 30th September to experience Dinefwr from Cecil’s Point of View

 

A digital reproduction of Lady Cecil Rice, 1762, by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) will be on display in the Dining Room of Newton House.

Copy by kind permission of The Frick Collection, New York