Dunham Massey’s latest exhibition is opening this weekend and runs for the next two years.
Dunham’s Lost Years – A Victorian Tale of Love and Abandonment opens the estate’s new season on February 27.
Katie Taylor, Dunham’s house manager: “Over the next two years, we’re looking at love, courtship and marriage through the eyes of the Victorians.
“Our focus is the story of George Harry, 7th Earl of Stamford & Warrington – young, incredibly wealthy and very eligible – and his marriage to Catharine Cox, circus equestrienne – glamorous, beautiful – and in the eyes of Cheshire society, totally unsuitable for such a match.
“Catharine came from the working classes and her marriage to George Harry defied the rigid conventions which governed Victorian polite society.
“So, society metered out their punishment. The young couple were publically rejected, ostracised and humiliated whenever they were out and about in the Cheshire community, invitations to attend social engagements in the county were not forthcoming, and requests to attend similar events at Dunham went unanswered”.
“Finally, it seems the couple’s patience gave way, and George Harry and Catharine decided they would leave Dunham – which they did in the late 1850s.
“They moved to their estate at Enville in Staffordshire, taking with them some of Dunham’s most precious items.
“Here, not only were they very happy, they were also held in high regard by Enville’s local community – in total contrast to what had happened to them back in Cheshire”.
On Roger’s death in 1976, he left the house and its contents to the National Trust – which continues his life’s work of reacquiring Dunham’s treasures to this day.
Katie added: “As love – and its consequences – form a pivotal part of ‘Dunham’s Lost Years’, we hope that visitors will reflect on some of their own stories of love or forbidden love, exploring whether customs and attitudes around the subject have really changed since Victorian times.
“On occasion over the next two years, we’ll be taking the opportunity to ask visitors to record their own love stories, and hope to make these available digitally as an insight into 21st century love and marriage for future generations”.
‘Dunham’s Lost Years: A Victorian Tale of Love and Abandonment’ opens on Saturday, 27 February at Dunham Massey.
For details visit the Dunham Massey website.