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Lord and Lady John Manners at St. Mary's Tower, Birnam

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    St. Mary's Tower (photographed)

  • Date:

    10/09/1881 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Potter, Rupert, born 1832 - died 1914 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Joan Duke

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 44, box A

Rupert Potter (1832-1914), father of the children's writer and illustrator, Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), took up photography in the 1860s when it was still a relatively new art form. An enthusiastic and skilled amateur, he was elected to the Photographic Society of London in 1869 and later contributed to photographic exhibitions. During long summer holidays to Scotland and the Lake District he recorded memorable occasions spent in the company of family and friends, in particular the artist, Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896), the Liberal statesman, John Bright (1811-1889), and the Unitarian minister, William Gaskell (1805-1884).

From 1871 to 1881 the Potter family rented Dalguise House, near Dunkeld in Perthshire and visited nearby St. Mary's Tower, Birnam, the home of John James Robert Manners, 7th Duke of Rutland (1818-1906). Lord John Manners, as he was known at the time, was an English statesman and politician. He was Tory MP for Newark (1841-1847), Colchester (1850-1857), North Leicestershire (1857-1885) and East Leicestershire (1885-1888), and entered the House of Lords in 1888 on succeeding his brother to become the 7th Duke of Rutland. He was a member of Young England, Benjamin Disraeli's political group within the Tory party, and the author of the famous lines from England's Trust, 'Let wealth and commerce, laws and learning die, But leave us still our old nobility.' Manners was married twice, first to Catherine Marley and then to Janetta Hughan, who appears in this photograph.

Sir John Everett Millais was also a visitor to St. Mary's Tower, Birnam, depicting its staircase in the background to his painting, The Grey Lady (1888). Beatrix Potter may also have depicted the staircase in her watercolour of a spiral staircase, dated 1882 (see BP.287).

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a man and woman (Lord and Lady Manners) sat on chairs in a gravelled corner of a garden. With a wooden bench and a stone wall in the background. The man wears a neck tie and holds a hat in his right hand and a walking stick in his left hand. The lady wears a pale coloured dress with a dark stole and has a scarf on the ground to her left.

Place of Origin

St. Mary's Tower (photographed)


10/09/1881 (photographed)


Potter, Rupert, born 1832 - died 1914 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Lord & Lady / John Manners / St Mary's / Birnam / R Potter / Sep 10 / 1881'
Pencil inscription by Rupert Potter on verso


Height: 163 mm, Width: 252 mm

Object history note

Photograph taken by Rupert Potter at St. Mary's Tower, Birnam on 10th September 1881.

Descriptive line

Photograph of Lord and Lady John Manners at St. Mary's Tower, Birnam; albumen print by Rupert Potter (1832-1914), 10 September 1881.


Photographic paper



Subjects depicted

Boundary walls; Gravel; Double portraits; Portraits; Gardens; Walls; Garden seats


Photographs; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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