Nature and art: reflections of two of Ightham Mote's previous residents

A lady during the mid-19th century walking in the courtyard

Running from Mon 29 February - Sun 30 October, this temporary exhibition highlights the lives of Prideaux John Selby and Charles Joseph La Trobe - two 19th century Victorian gentlemen who stayed at Ightham Mote.

Prideaux John Selby (1788 - 1867)

From a landowning family in Northumberland, Selby inherited Ightham Mote in 1845 along with a number of estates elsewhere. Despite the fact that he planned to let his daughter Marianne live here, he certainly put his heart and soul into making Ightham Mote a comfortable home.

" At the Old Mansion at the Mote, which I have had to pull down and rebuild and restore to an extent I little expected when I first commenced the putting the place into habitable repair."
- Prideaux John Selby, 1846

Whilst this might be a bit of an exaggeration, there's no doubt that his love of natural history seemed to have influenced the structure and character of the gardens - something that you can find out more about in the exibition in the undercroft.

Selby's most famous publication 'Illustrations of British Ornithology' (1821 - 1834), contained the first set of life-sized illustrations of British birds, many of which he drew from specimens in his own collection. You can see some of his taxidermy specimens in the dressing room, along with two of his illustrations.

In 1855, Prideaux and his daughter leased Ightham Mote to Charles Joseph La Trobe, whose paintings and drawing reflect the house and garden during Prideaux's ownership.


Charles Joseph La Trobe (1801 - 1875)

His role as the first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, Australia, was the last job he held in the British Government, as Queen Victoria disapproved of his 'incestuous' second marriage. 

La Trobe was in love with the English country house, but upon his discovery that he wasn't entitled to a pension, he rented Ightham Mote for a short period of time. 

He was a prolific artist, with 437 paintings and sketches all kept in the State Library of Victoria, Australia. Having sketched as he travelled, many of his pictures were unfinished, often pencil sketches or with a sepia wash. During the exibition, you will be able to see some of the paintings he made at Ightham Mote, from the position where he painted them.

Download a copy of our exhibition catalogue for more details. (PDF / 4.099609375MB) download