A Vision of Beauty: Chapter 9

A Biography of Julia Prinsep Stephen by Marion Dell.

© CC BY-NC-SA unless otherwise stated; image copyrights are listed in the credits and they are not licensed for re-use.

Herbert and Julia: The beginning of their life together (c.1866–1867)

Julia, now that her older sisters were married and occupied with their own children, was the daughter at home, supporting her parents in their lovely home, Saxonbury, on the Kent/Sussex border. But this did not last for long. Herbert Duckworth, the young lawyer Julia had met in Venice, became a frequent, and very attentive, visitor. 

Herbert Duckworth and his family background

1. Herbert Duckworth c.1866.

Herbert was born on 19 May 1833, in Pendlebury, near Manchester, where his family owned estates. He was the youngest of a family of five. His mother died when he was only one year old and by the time he was three the family had moved south, so that he grew up at Beechwood, near Lyndhurst in the New Forest. However, he retained his links with the Manchester area all of his life, though relatives, friends, and his legal work on the Northern Circuit.

Like most of the men in his family he went to Eton and Trinity College Cambridge. Leslie Stephen who knew him at university, later wrote a brief, biographical portrait of him, summing him up as, 

A man of honour, of fair accomplishments and interest in books, he was fitted to take his place in any society, without being the least of a dandy or a fop: simple, straightforward and manly. But, besides this, he was as everyone could perceive who knew him, a singularly modest and sweet-tempered man.1

All accounts of Herbert support this view of him as amiable, warm, generous, good at games, and with modest aspirations and achievements. He had many long-lasting friends and came from a close, loving family. 

The Duckworth family

2. Admiral Sir John Duckworth (1748–1817). A copy of the portrait by William Beechey, R.A. in the dining room at Orchardleigh.

The Duckworths were a long-established landed family, listed in Burke’s Peerage, originally coming from the North-west. Like many British families they gained some of their land through the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s, when Richard Duckworth bought the Musbury Estate in Lancashire, originally owned by Whalley Abbey. They were astute lawyers and businessmen and when Manchester was still only a village, they could foresee its potential for growth and prosperity as a thriving commercial and industrial centre. They invested in shrewd purchases of land and the family became increasingly wealthy.

They were educated, cultured, very well-travelled and well-connected. Most of the sons entered the navy or the law. In later life, many became members of parliament. Admiral Sir John Duckworth’s portrait is still prominently displayed at Orchardleigh, though it is no longer the family home. Sir John fought in numerous naval battles including with Nelson at Naples and against the French off San Domingo in 1806. In 1800, James Pattle’s friend William Hickey, then in India, recorded that,

The Cornwallis, armed ship, arrived from England after a fine passage of three months and twenty days from Portsmouth. This vessel brought us an account of Admiral Duckworth’s important capture from the Spaniards.2

He later became Governor of Newfoundland, a baronet, Member of Parliament for Romsey, and Commander in Chief at Plymouth.

3. Anna Duckworth (1792–1873) – future Lady Coltman. 

The Duckworths were mostly sincerely religious people, valuing hard work and education, for their daughters as well as their sons. George Duckworth, Herbert’s grandfather, was a lawyer who had been to Eton and Cambridge. He added many more lucrative estates to his family’s already considerable holdings. He was a Unitarian and possibly not a comfortable man to live with for his wife caused a scandal by running away to live with a dentist in York, leaving her sister, Rachel Grundy, to bring up their four surviving children. A fifth, Sarah, had died only eight years old. Samuel, the eldest son was also educated at Eton and Cambridge. He became a successful lawyer, Master of Chancery and MP for Leicester. The three younger children, Eliza, Anna and William were first sent to Dr Dalton at Sedbergh, a school to which Anny Thackeray Ritchie later sent her son Billy. Even the girls were taught Latin and Greek and they were then sent to Mrs Pope’s finishing school in London. Eliza never married, but Anna married the future Lord Thomas Coltman, a barrister and later judge. 

Samuel inherited the estates when his father George died young after a fall from a horse. When Samuel died in Paris in 1847, William, Herbert Duckworth’s father, became head of the family and inherited all the lands and titles. In spite of the fact that his father had died when he was only five and he was brought up only by his mother, he had been to Eton and Cambridge and also became a lawyer. 

William married Hester Philips in 1825 and they had five children: George, Sarah Emily who was always known as Minna, William Arthur, Russell and Herbert. Their mother Hester died when Herbert was only one year old. William married again, Margaret Benyon, but they had no children.

4-5. Left, William Duckworth (1795-1876). In his novel “The Old Country”, Sir Henry Newbolt portrayed William Duckworth as Joseph Earnshaw, ‘a north country lawyer’s son, rock jawed and iron-handed’. Right, Hester Philips (1805- 1834) of The Park, Prestwich, before her marriage in 1825 to William Duckworth.
6-7. Left, The Park, Prestwich. The house was demolished in 1950. Much has happened to the surrounding land, including the creation of a local public park (Philips Park). Right, Drawing of the south front of ‘The Park’ by Hester Philips, July 1819.

Herbert’s childhood

It was William Duckworth, soon after the death of his first wife, who was the first of his family to buy lands in the south of England. In 1836 he bought the Beechwood estate in the New Forest near Lyndhurst and moved his family and new wife down to live there. It was in this idyllic setting that, from the age of three, Herbert grew up, though he was sent away to prep school in Hove. The many letters he sent to his family show that his school day began at 6.30 and finished at 8.00pm, but he seems to have been happy there and to have made many life-long friends. He had tuition in Greek, Euclid, Algebra and Dancing, all of which prepared him for his move to Eton and on to Trinity College Cambridge, following family tradition.  As a boy and young man Herbert travelled widely, often with his family. In 1846, aged 12, he wrote a detailed diary of his visit to Paris with his parents and brothers. In an eclectic whirl of activities, he had visited Notre Dame, the theatre, the Tuileries Gardens, and a Sèvres porcelain factory. He had a number of wonderful meals including ices at Tortoni’s. He had seen fireworks at a ‘beau balle’ in the Champs Elysees, soldiers drilling on the Champ de Mars, elephants at the Zoo, and three dead bodies at the Morgue.  

8-9. Left, Beechwood drawing room and library c.1852-56.  Watercolour by anonymous artist. Right, The Duckworth Family Nutting at Beechwood.
10. Letter from Herbert to Minna sent from Cambridge.

In 1850 he was travelling in the Middle East with Dean Stanley. They were found camping in the Holy Land by William Arthur, who was also making his own pilgrimage there. In 1855 he and his father spent Easter in Rome on their way back from what was then Constantinople. In 1856 Herbert was living at the town house, to begin training for the law, but in August he was again on his travels, this time sailing from Liverpool to America. Letters home record visits to Philadelphia, Boston and Canada before sailing on The Persia back from New York in time for Christmas festivities at Beechwood. In 1857 he went to Moscow with Professors Stanley and Butler, sending long accounts to William Arthur from Stockholm on the way. William Arthur had his own long journey later that year recounting in detail leaving Beechwood for Dover to Cologne, Dresden, Gallipoli, Nazareth and finally Jerusalem. He lists where he stayed each night in a variety of hotels, tents and mud huts often travelling by camel. He returned by steamer via Alexandria, Cairo and Malta seeing Gibraltar by moonlight.

Throughout his childhood and for the rest of his life, Herbert’s brother, William Arthur, kept daily diaries. In them he records not only the weather, temperature and wind direction each day, but family birthdays each year, and family, social and national events. He wrote a little memorial for his brother George each year on the anniversary of his death. These diaries and the many surviving letters, show Herbert’s family to be very close, warm and loving. They wrote to each other regularly, long news-filled and gossipy letters. They spent time in each other’s company enjoying sports such as riding and walking, and travel and cultural activities. William by all accounts was an indulgent, generous father. In London they went to the opera, theatres, the Royal Academy, Greenwich, and major exhibitions. They met Halle and enjoyed music. They dined out frequently, and entertained friends including many who would later become close to Julia such as the Lushingtons and the Heywoods. William Arthur called on G F Watts several times and also on The Hollands at Holland Park. In the country they skated on the lake, rode in the park, and hunted. In town they also had horses and Herbert and his brothers and sister went riding in Rotten Row, Hyde Park and out to the Crystal Palace. 

11. Herbert and his siblings. In order, left to right of the photograph, they are Russell, William Arthur, Sarah Emily (Minna), George and Herbert.


As his family grew, William Duckworth bought a prestigious London town house, 38 Bryanston Square.  He also began looking around for a larger estate which would provide a seat for his oldest son George. In February 1855, after lengthy and complicated negotiations, he bought the Orchardleigh estate, near Frome in Somerset, on the market as a result of the bankruptcy of its owner Sir Thomas Champney. 

Sadly, George would never inherit. By the time the sale actually went through, George, a Captain in the prestigious 5th Dragoon Guards, had died of cholera on board ship in the Bay of Varna, Turkey, while serving in the Crimea, aged only 28. This tragic event in 1854 hit them all hard, especially Herbert, who had kept up a long correspondence with George even when he was in the Crimea. William Arthur was also away at theological college in Durham. He was ordained in 1854 at Ripon Cathedral and it was he who would inherit Orchardleigh. 

Orchardleigh consisted not only of the manor house with its usual terraces, extensive stabling, carriage houses and kitchen gardens, but also an enormous park with a lake. On an island in the lake was the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin. In addition there were two grand stone lodges; the manor, village and church of Lullington; and several farms with tenants’ cottages. All were in a very rundown, dilapidated and neglected state and William began on what would be an on-going programme of renovation and renewal. The Duckworth family, according to expert local historian Michael McGarvie, ‘began their 130 years at Orchardleigh with a massive scheme of building unique to the landed estates of mid-Victorian England.’4

The manor house, though large, was low down in marshy damp ground. William’s solution was to pull it down and employ the architect T.H. Wyatt to design a grand new house on higher ground. However he not only wanted a grand but comfortable home for his family, he was also a philanthropic owner and landlord, and began improving all parts of the estate. He poured in money but also was astute financially – recycling stone from the old house for new properties on the estate. He was also interested in modern technological innovations. The frame of the house was fireproof wrought iron girders, not wood. He went to inspect the three furnaces which were working night and day to provide all the wrought iron. Most of the work and the materials were locally sourced, providing much needed work in the area. For the furnishings and fittings however, such as the Italian marble fireplaces, he sent to London. The farms and the tenants’ cottages were repaired, the lake and the river were dredged and restocked, and the gardens were replanted. Land was drained to make good pasture. Long avenues of cedar trees and other species, including over 3,500 larch trees, were planted. The houses in Lullington village were repaired and renovated as was the Church and the rectory. A new larger school was built and equipped. The lodges were restored and grand new wrought iron gates installed. The island church was fully renovated.

12. Late 19th century OS map showing Orchardleigh and nearby Lullington, Buckland Denham and Frome.

Herbert’s brother, William Arthur, was a talented and enthusiastic early photographer. He took a series of images of the building work.

13. The building work photographed by William Arthur Duckworth.

In 1857 William and Margaret entrusted supervision of the building works to their children, while they took a four months trip to Jerusalem. By 1858 building work had progressed enough for the family to leave Beechwood; excited to live in their new home, but sad to no longer have the beautiful garden and long forest drives and rides in the New Forest. William Arthur, Herbert, and their friend Arthur Heywood went on a strenuous walking tour in the Lake District, where the sight of Herbert in knickerbockers causes much hilarity among local boys, before settling into Orchardleigh.

14. Orchardleigh. A watercolour from the office of architect T.H. Wyatt, c1856/7.

Life at Orchardleigh

Michael McGarvie asserts that the Duckworths, 

were the last family to become associated with Frome who can be described as manorial not only in the sense of owning several Lordships of Manors, but also in having power and influence over the local community and a feeling of obligation towards it. [They joined] such old established families as the Seymours of Maiden Bradley, the Thynnes of Longleat, the Boyles of Marston Bigot, the Horners of Mells and the more recently arrived Joliffes of Ammerdown, and fitted effortlessly into the pattern of the Frome establishment like a hand into a well-cut glove.5

Given this, it is difficult to account for Virginia Woolf’s later inaccurate, exaggerated, and often vituperative, portraits of Herbert and his family, and especially of Herbert and Julia’s son, her half-brother, George Duckworth. Sadly these accounts are still often accepted by biographers and readers uncritically and without question. According to her, 

the Duckworths had made their money in cotton, or coal, not a hundred years ago and did not really rank, as George [Duckworth] made out, among the ancient families in Somersetshire. For I have it on the best authority that when the original Duckworth acquired Orchardleigh about the year 1810 he filled it with casts from the Greek to which he attached not merely fig leaves for the Gods but aprons for the Goddesses – much to the amusement of the Lords of Longleat who never forgot that old Duckworth had sold cotton by the yard and probably got his aprons cheap.6

In reality, life at Orchardleigh when they began to settle in there from August 1858, was very different and very happy. William supervised everything and took his duties as landlord seriously. Margaret had her own beautiful morning room with a superb view, and Minna had her own suite of rooms.

William Arthur continued with his ecclesiastical work and enjoyed his splendid photography studio and dark room in the cellar, which was also the bacon smoking room. They all approved of the music room, the billiard room, and the beautiful terraces, and huge conservatory though, placed on the side as it was they thought it looked ‘like an afterthought’. However, when visiting their new friends the Thynne family at nearby Longleat, they had to admit that Orchardleigh was ‘plain’ in comparison.

15-16. Left, A family group on the terrace in front of Orchardleigh c.1870. Right, Orchardleigh gardens near the house c.1870.

They began philanthropic work on the estate, especially developing the new school in Lullington village and they began fitting in with local society. Their first guests arrived, including Lord Dungarvon and the Earl of Cork, who lived nearby at Marston House and was an old school friend of William Arthur’s. As was expected of a local squire and expert horseman, Herbert joined the East Somerset Yeomanry as a Cornet,7 appearing in his dashing new dress uniform for the first time. He had to train regularly but no doubt much of the attraction would be the social side of the yeomanry: the many dinners, dances and opportunities to meet young people of similar social status in the neighbourhood. The family got a jet black, shaggy Newfoundland dog called Diver, named for George’s retriever. In 1859 Minna and Herbert visited friends at Castle Carey and were busy buying pictures at Christie’s along with carpets and furniture for the new house. William Arthur preached at Lullington Church. 

The younger family members leave home

Herbert and his siblings began to move away for their careers and new relationships, but always came back to Orchardleigh for long holidays and family events. Herbert continued his travels, completed his law degree, and began his legal career. He was assigned to the Northern Circuit, which meant that most of his cases were heard in either Liverpool, like his first one in 1860, or Manchester. He stayed in lodgings there, or at the London house, for long periods.

William Arthur’s attentions were focussed on the Honourable Edina (Ena) Campbell, youngest daughter of John Baron Campbell, Lord High Chancellor of England, to whom he was married in October 1859 at Ennismore Gardens, Middlesex. They spent their honeymoon at Orchardleigh. Later that year he was appointed as Rector of the church at Puttenham, in Surrey, and early in 1860 he and Ena moved to the Rectory there. 

17-19. Left, Herbert in lawyer’s wig. Centre, William Arthur Duckworth. Right, The Hon. Edina (Ena) Campbell, wife of William Arthur Duckworth.

Russell Duckworth, who like his brothers had been to Eton, Cambridge and trained as a lawyer, successfully begged his father to allow him to abandon his legal career and instead take up farming. He moved to Murtry Hill Farm, Buckland Denham, just a few miles from Orchardleigh. In 1863 he was married in 1863 to Jeannette Clutterbuck whose father was the Rector of the church at Buckland Denham. 

Julia and Herbert’s engagement

Towards the end of 1866, when Herbert and the Jacksons had all returned from the Continent and the Jacksons had settled in their new home, Herbert began regular visits either to them at Saxonbury or in London when they stayed with family there. 

20. Saxonbury by Julia Margaret Cameron c.1867.
21. The Devil’s Punchbowl, Hindhead, A. R. Quinton postcard. 

In November that year he spent time with his brother William Arthur, taking a strenuous but dramatically beautiful seven mile walk from Haslemere station over Hindhead, the Devils Punch Bowl and Thursley Common to the Rectory at Puttenham. No doubt the brothers discussed Julia.

After one of Herbert’s visits in December 1866, Mia had to send on an item he had left behind. His letter shows that he already knows Saxonbury well and that a warm, friendly relationship between himself and Julia’s family was established. Herbert also reported on the engagement of their mutual friends, Leslie Stephen and Minny Thackeray, which was on 4 December:

Dear Mrs Jackson

Many thanks for my waif and stray. I rather pride myself on not leaving things behind me so that it was a great blow to me, but I was very glad to see your handwriting and to hear that you were all settled again at home – that view from the drawing-room must be lovely now in the full moon and I hope you are able to come downstairs and enjoy it – my hostess here tells me of the youngest Miss Thackeray’s engagement to Leslie Stephen which I suppose you heard of in town. Your letter followed me to Liverpool Assizes and I came on here today and get home for Christmas on Saturday and back to my London headquarters the middle of January.  

With Christmas and New Year Greetings to all your party.

Believe me 
Very sincerely yours 
Herbert Duckworth

How are the drains? and the drawing room paper and the 3 portraits and the 3 children?

(Herbert Duckworth to Mia Jackson, Corley Rectory, Coventry, Dec 21 1866)

By the end of January Herbert was staying at his family’s London town house in Bryanston Square and again planning to visit Saxonbury, but this time he felt the need to honourably tell Julia’s parents what his intentions were:

My dear Mr and Mrs Jackson

You are kind enough to ask me to come down again very soon to Saxonbury – I feel that I cannot do so without first telling you what my feelings are with regard to your daughter. You have given me opportunities such as are too seldom given of seeing her in her everyday home life and when I see what a daughter she is to you it has made and still does make me feel how selfish I am to ask her from you – yet what higher or better reason can I give for doing so – her value as a daughter and a sister is the best measure of her value as a wife. I am not a rich man but have good prospects and can offer her a home here which I need not say it would be my endeavour to make happy as her own. In London she would always be in reach of Saxonbury and after all I hope that you think well enough of me to feel some confidence that I might hereafter be able to shield her from some of the cares and anxieties of life if only she can make up her mind to trust herself to me.

May I then come down to Saxonbury at once and see her myself?  I am in your hands – my highest wishes are for her happiness.

This will reach you tomorrow morning –on Friday I hope for your answer and will act upon it.

I had written this before Mrs Jackson’s note arrived. My cold is better – I am grateful to her for her kindness.

Believe me always very sincerely yrs Herbert Duckworth

(Herbert Duckworth to Mr and Mrs Jackson, 38, Bryanston Square, 30 Jan 1867)

Herbert did act on their reply, rushing down to Saxonbury to propose to Julia. They were engaged on 1 February, just a few days before Julia’s 21st birthday on the 7th. Herbert was 33. Though Herbert knew Julia’s family well, Julia had not yet met his family, but she immediately sent a very neatly and carefully written letter to her future mother-in-law: 

Dear Mrs Duckworth

Herbert says I may write you a few lines. I need not tell you how happy I am for you know how good he is. I only wish I were more worthy of him

Yr new daughter-in-law

(Julia Jackson to Mrs W Duckworth, Saxonbury 1 Feb 1867)

William Duckworth immediately sent a very warm, welcoming letter to his future daughter-in-law:

My dear daughter that is to be, 

I have no doubt that I shall like you very much and Herbert will I am sure make you a capital Husband. I have full confidence in him. It was very trustful in you to write at once to us all.

I hope soon to subscribe myself with truth

Affectionately Yours
William Duckworth

(William Duckworth to Julia Jackson, Orchardleigh 3 Feb 1867)

Herbert’s brother William Arthur was also welcoming but very curious about the appearance of his future sister-in-law:

We hear on all sides what a lucky fellow you are to have won such a beautiful, attractive, charming, graceful, artistic model for Gibson. ‘Devoted daughter’, ‘Daughter of a very beautiful mother’, ‘Thoughtful and tender nurse’, ‘As beautiful as the wildest dreams of poet, painter, pleasant, nice, modest, unaffected and good’ – these are a few of the descriptions we have received. So you may suppose we are eager to see if not Julia, at least her photograph. Our pleasure at the prospect of having such a sister increases everyday and I hope it may not be too long before you introduce us to her. 

(William Arthur Duckworth to Herbert Duckworth early Feb 1867)

Herbert’s other brother, Russell, more prosaically warned Herbert of the expense of married life, but did mention that Herbert and Julia were to be allowed to live in the family town house, 38 Bryanston Square, rent free. 

Congratulations poured in from delighted friends and family. Cambridge friends sent congratulations and thoughts on marriage, a John Stenman from Beechwood sent congratulations and remembered how Herbert used to ride Darbey there, and G.F. Watts sent an affectionate short note to Julia, congratulating her and hoping for her happiness, signed Signor. 

Leslie Stephen, Julia’s future second husband, later recorded hearing news of the engagement when he was dining with his fiancée Minny Thackeray and her sister Anny:

… Val Prinsep was one of the party. He announced to us the news of Julia Jackson’s engagement to Herbert Duckworth. It was a very interesting announcement as she was a friend of Anny and Minny. I remember too how Edward Dicey, who was also there, agreed with me in pronouncing Herbert Duckworth to be a very fortunate man.8

An altogether more exuberant, heartfelt, and typically quirky, unpunctuated, and effusive letter, telling of the same dinner party, was immediately sent to Julia by Anny Thackeray.

22. Anny Thackeray c. 1870.

My dearest Julia

Val said “Julia” – I said Is it O is it – He said Mr Duckworth we all began to dance about the room for gladness – and yesterday I rushed off to Mary whose eyes were all twinkling and Julia Norman came in calm but delighted and my dearest old Cameron and I embraced in the garden in little holland house half a dozen times in your honour. Dear old Thoby talked about you quite brightly and forgot his poor eyes for a minute and Charlie Norman says he remembers Mr Duckworth at Eton but he always remembers everybody at Eton he remembers Leslie too – I am always repeating this line to myself “O let us not into the marriage of true hearts admit impediment”. Dearest true heart you know how I love you and love to think that you are happy – I think you will be one of the most charming couples and as Minnie says Mrs Jackson is such a tender mother that it will be only happiness to her – and then this morning we got your dear little letter – and I always hoped for it someday – and I am going to write to dear Mrs Jackson – and I send my best congratulations and regards to Mr Duckworth and I pray God to bless all happy couples and those I love especially and above all – Dear Julia we are so glad and do wish you so much love which is better than happiness even we think Your faithful and affectionate arthackeray

(Anny Thackeray to Julia Jackson, 4 or 5 February 1867)

Minny Thackeray wrote a rather more controlled but just as joyful letter as her sister:

23. Minny Thackeray and Lesley Stephen, probably on their wedding tour in June 1867.

Dearest Julia

I think Anny sent you my congratulations with her own but I must send you some more and tell you how very glad I am that you are so happy although you must allow me to say that the notion of anybody being too good for you seems to me rather absurd and I am sure that everyone who knows you would agree with me – especially Mr Duckworth. Dear Julia, I hope we shall see you very often. I think you must know that we care for you very much. Please give my best love to dear Mrs Jackson. She is happy I am sure because you are so which I suppose is the best sort of happiness, truly it must be a little painful sometimes when there are partings to go through. […] I am afraid that I am writing you a very silly letter. I cannot imagine you silly dear Julia. I wonder whether you will be – we are going to Val’s studio this afternoon and I hope to have good news of dear old Uncle Thoby. I am sorry to say that Anny has caught fresh cold and is laid up again. So Leslie and I are going with a little High Church niece and nephew of Mrs Dalrymple called Maggie Clark who is staying here and who goes to church twice a day. Please forgive my incoherence,

Ever your most affectionate
Harriet M Thackeray.

(Minny Thackeray to Julia Jackson, 6 February 1867)

Herbert wrote a long letter to his sister Minna to whom he was very close, giving a full description of Julia, promising to bring her to Orchardleigh shortly, and slyly asking her to secretly keep a quiet place where he and Julia might have some time alone together, ‘a corner of Orchardleigh to be unsociable in’.

24. Julia Jackson, probably by Rejlander, c. 1863. 

The photograph you have is too good looking in one sense and not half good enough in another. She was only eighteen when it was taken and I have seen her looking very like it now, but her face changes and has every variety of expression. When talking her French blood gives her greater naivety than you usually see in England. Her voice in singing is not strong but very sweet, in conversation harsher. She is really fond of singing and anxious to have masters and learn. She has been well taught by (Marras?) and others. The great pleasure is that she cannot be awkward and all her movements are good and suitable for her height and figure: 5 feet six inches is a good height and wants management. 

He told her that they had chosen Frant for their wedding as both he and Julia wanted a quiet wedding where they could walk to a village church. He added intimate details which reveal the closeness of his relationship with his sister and with Julia: 

You will be glad to hear she won’t let me have my hair cut and fuzzes it up to your heart’s content. Mrs Jackson is still entirely upstairs. I see her for about half an hour at night. She is so good and says nothing of what her loss will be. I have never seen a daughter so well and naturally brought up. 

(Herbert Duckworth to Minna Duckworth, 10 Feb) 

It is clear that Herbert and Julia were very much in love and very happy. Theirs was not a stereotypical, decorous, Victorian courtship. In his first letter to Julia, after she had seen him off at the train station to go to his court sessions, Herbert writes

Dearest One 

I have written two letters to my good brothers to appease the wrath of one and the prudential anxiety of the other, and now for my first written word to you.

What a change it was for me to have somebody to see me off this morning. London somehow is changed – all is changed – it is wonderful is it not?  the difference ten days have made to both of us – it has given me new anxieties. We must both of us try not to fuss about each other but going to sessions is not quite such an easy affair as it used to be and you looked just a little anxious at the end of the platform this morning. We are not yet, you see, hardened married people! We must both take care of ourselves for each other. 

(Herbert Duckworth to Julia Jackson, 13 February)

In another he tells her, ‘I am glad that you do not burst into tears whenever I kiss you. You would soon be a rolling river and Saxonbury would be flooded.’ She tells him, ‘No one but you would have thought of writing; your words brought sunshine into the room.’

Julia’s first visit to Orchardleigh and Herbert’s family

25. The front entrance to Orchardleigh showing French style architecture.

On 20 February, Herbert first brought Julia, chaperoned by her father, to meet his family and to see his country home. They had travelled down to Frome by train and from the station were driven to nearby Orchardleigh. In spite of its being February William had sent the open carriage, as the weather was ‘so delicious’. Mia Jackson was too ill to make the journey and had stayed in Hastings.

Julia would no doubt have found the French style of architecture familiar and appealing. Her French style was certainly appealing to Herbert’s brother, William Arthur, who as ever made extensive notes in his diary. She was ‘graceful, simple and natural’, ‘wears no crinoline, hardly any stays, no grease to her hair, drapes Pre-Raphaelesque’. The liberated dress style so beloved of Julia and the Pattle women at Little Holland House was clearly a novelty here. What Herbert’s parents thought of their future daughter-in-law’s informal, liberated dress, with no stays or crinoline, is not recorded.  According to William Arthur, Julia ‘sings in tune with little voice’ and had been well taught. Her father had ‘grey hair, long and wild’ and he ‘told Indian stories of his 25 years at Calcutta.’

William Arthur and Herbert, possibly with their father, sat up talking till 1.00 in the morning about marriage settlements. Julia was to have £300 per annum during her parents’ life as well as ‘£10,000 down and a third part of the remainder’. Herbert was to live at 38 Bryanston Square rent and taxes free, £800 per annum allowance and interest of £2,800 from his mother’s money, and ‘one servant kept’. In addition he would eventually have £50,000. Clearly Julia and Herbert were beginning married life as a very wealthy and privileged couple. 

The following day they looked at Julia Margaret Cameron’s photos which William Arthur, himself a keen photographer, admired. He talked to John Jackson, while Julia and Minna went in the carriage to visit tenants and see round the lake and the rest of the estate. Julia was reportedly a poor walker. 

William Arthur and Minna discussed Julia over a game of billiards. They decided that they both liked their new sister-in-law very much, and were delighted Herbert had not proposed to one of his several other female friends, although they thought that Carry Philips would have been richer. The Honourable Florence Eden came from Wells and William Arthur went with her to inspect the new parsonage at Lullington. Julia and Herbert presumably found their ‘corner to be unsociable in.’ Herbert’s brother Russell and his wife Jeanette drove over from Clifton for dinner to meet Julia. 

On the 22 John Jackson left for Cardiff, probably also visiting Julia’s sister Adeline and her husband Henry Vaughan, now living at Upton Castle near Pembroke. She would be eager to hear his news of Julia and Herbert.

26. Puttenham Rectory. A drawing by William Arthur Duckworth.

William Duckworth generously offered each of his daughters-in-law £50 to spend at the Paris Exhibition.  William Arthur lunched with Russell, Jeanette and their children Amy and Edith. Jeanette found Julia ‘very wanting in animation’. The two brothers walked over to Buckland Denham and then joined Julia and Herbert in their pony carriage. The following day William Arthur and family went back to their home in Puttenham. 

Wedding plans had to be organised very swiftly. On 5 March William Arthur and Ena Duckworth travelled by train from London to Guildford. There they met Herbert coming up from Orchardleigh and Julia, her maid, and her father coming from Saxonbury.  From there the men walked some 5 miles cross country to Puttenham and Ena, Julia and the maid went in a brougham. They were all staying at the Rectory to discuss wedding plans, as William Arthur had been asked to conduct the ceremony.     

At breakfast the next morning there was a ‘going-on’ with Julia’s new nieces. Mary commented, ‘Aunt Julia what a big neck you have’, and Cecilia asked ‘Aunt Julia, why have you put on your evening dress in the morning?’ Presumably Julia was again in ‘drapes Pre-Raphaelesque’.  John Jackson stayed only one night but Herbert and Julia stayed on, spending the 7th  together at Bagshot, dining with the Chiltons, neighbours who came to meet them, and returning to London on the 8th.

The wedding was fixed for May 2nd but was later changed to May 1st for some reason.

While Herbert was continuing his legal work, Julia was staying with her sister Mary and husband Herbert Fisher at their home in Onslow Square, London. Here she was socialising and getting to know Herbert’s parents, who were also in London and clearly charmed by her. She sent long gossipy letters daily, and sometimes twice daily, to Herbert. 

Now I must tell you about last night. It was very pleasant. Unfortunately Herbert [Fisher] could not go. I wore a white silk and tried not to look thin! Mary wore pink and looked like my younger sister. We were in very good time and found the Orchardleigh party and Mr Mackenzie and Mr Clark there. Your Father came forward and gave me one of his kisses and then your Mother, so it was some time before I got to Lady Coltman and the others. Then I sat down by your Mother and when she got up to speak to Miss Richardson, Mr Clark took her seat and made himself very agreeable. I was introduced to Mr L Mackenzie and then to Sir David Dundas by your Father. Sir David made a pretty speech and then Mr Howard came in and then we went down to dinner. I was taken down by Mr Clark which I was glad of and sat between him and your Father. He was most amusing and we got on very well. Your Father took my hand for a little while at the beginning of dinner which, I thought, if someone else had done might have been considered rather demonstrative. Mr Clark is in a great state lest I should think life is all roses or, as he poetically expresses it; “All plums and no suet”! He also told me to be sure to have my own sitting room, never to give dinner parties for more than eight, however delightful. When the gentlemen came up your Father came and sat by me, hand in hand, everybody laughing at us. Then he made Mary come and sit on the other side of him and was very affectionate to her and asked her to dine with them on his birthday. Fancy Mr Mackenzie all dinner time took Mary for me! She thought he did and tried hard to make him understand by talking hard about her husband! But it was no use. He still went on, and at last, after asking her if she was musical said: ‘Oh, I dare say you will play to him in the evening when he comes home.’ Then Mary undeceived him and he said ‘Oh, isn’t Miss Jackson the one in pink?’ To make amends to me he came over and stood by me talking so long that at last your Father said: ‘I allow ten minutes flirtation, Mackenzie, but no more, and you have had much more!’ Then turning to me said it would be a good thing when I was married, to which I heartily agreed, my darling.

(Julia Jackson to Herbert Duckworth, 3 Onslow Square 15 March)

Either Herbert or his family must have commented on her thinness, for this and the amount she is eating, is frequently mentioned, as are the endless numbers of colds which she, Herbert, or other family suffer from: 

Mama is better today and I hope soon we shall get home. She spent the morning quietly in her room and only came in here for a late luncheon half past two. I eat such a good one, darling. Since then I have been sitting here quite still reading and working and Mama half asleep and quite asleep. Now she is awake and she is afraid she has caught a fresh cold as the window was wide open. I hope not but it is very damp. I was not cold, darling, so don’t think I have caught a fresh cold. 

Julia is concerned to keep Herbert warm, knitting him socks, rather inexpertly it seems, and making flannel bands to keep his chest warm:

4.45 p.m. on circuit.

Dearest One

I came back here for I thought I should find a letter and here it is, and the chest preserver too. […] How useful I found your, what shall I call it, “pink middle band” to put round one’s middle. I use it every day.  I have now three chest preservers! No such here. One of your purple socks, by the bye, has come altogether undone at the top.

(Herbert Duckworth to Julia Jackson, 52, Mount Pleasant [Liverpool], March)

27. Invitation to Julia and Herbert’s wedding.

In late March Herbert was carrying on his legal work on the Northern Circuit. As they walked together down to the ‘great landing stage’ on the river in Liverpool, Herbert told his friend and fellow lawyer, Vernon Lushington, that he was to be married on either the first or second of May. Only about five weeks’ time and the date still not finalised!9 They considered the 2nd of May but eventually settled on the 1st and John and Mia Jackson sent out invitations.10

After Herbert’s visit and seeing him off on the train, Julia could not wait to write again. 

My own Darling

I can’t wait any longer to write to you. Everything I do is so full of you that I can’t attend to it properly. Perhaps, after what is next best to a talk, I shall feel more settled. After seeing you go into that black tunnel I did a little shopping and then came home. I found Aunt Julia with Mama and we had a little talk and I read Mama your letters of this morning. First of all though I went to your room and then I felt that you were really gone. But I am not unhappy, dear one, but very happy. I can’t be otherwise when I think that we belong to each other. 

The 1st can’t be too near for me, darling, it would be useless for me to tell you how I long for it every day now. When we were first engaged that seemed happiness enough for me and so it was, only I long for us to belong quite to one another and to be always together. 

Aunt Julia went all over the house and garden with Papa pointing out all the improvements and delighting him by her admiration and I sat with Mama working. Then I wrote several letters and notes and then came luncheon. I eat a very good one, my darling, and wonder if you are having yours. At half past two Aunt Julia went, Papa driving her to Tunbridge Wells, The post brought one letter for you. I got three letters, one from a cousin of Mama’s, a very funny one. She begins by telling me that “Duckworth” is a “good name”, as if I did not know that. Then she says she is glad you are a friend of the Fishers as I shall be able to keep up my “intimacy” with Mary.

Wedding plans

28. Julia and Herbert engagement photo. Rejlander. 

Wedding plans sent both families into a frenzy of delighted activity. The priority was taking photographs to send round to both the families. Julia and Herbert had formal portraits taken by their friend Oscar Rejlander. 

Julia Margaret Cameron was also circulating some of her many photographs of Julia. Herbert, in Manchester, wrote to Mia and John Jackson, telling them: 

Mrs Cameron has very kindly printed some photographs to be divided between you and me. Julia and I shall choose ours on Sunday and I have them with me now. She will bring you yours on Friday. You will think her I’m afraid no stouter but otherwise pretty well, though when I left she had the beginnings of a cold. After being shown about for three weeks to strange relations she has now to show herself to her own.

We were photographed by Rejlander on Saturday and I hope a pair successfully but I never make a decent photograph. …. Of Mr Watts’s portraits which I only saw for a minute, much to my surprise, I think I prefer the full face. …. 

            (Herbert Duckworth to Mr and Mrs Jackson, Northern Circuit, Manchester, 11 March)

29. Julia Margaret Cameron Photograph of Julia with loose hair.

Mary wrote to her mother, still referring affectionately to Julia by her family nickname, Babe:

Sunday night

[…] We went this aft. to L-H-House. Aunt Julia was there and I saw Babe’s photos. Those with the hair down were beautiful and the large profile – those of Herbert were too dreadful to look at. – I [??] Aunt J as she was so busy and had to go to see Signore but I was very thankful to hear a better account of you – We stayed till 7 o’clock  – Uncle Somers  was going to dine Aunt V was too tired […] My love to dear Babe – I am afraid she has been tiring herself about my bonnet and writing about all the things and she really ought to have rest and try to look better before the 1st. I am sure to like F’s hat only I must pay for it. We are all well darling. Take care of yourself.

Yr fondest child  May Fisher.

(Mary Fisher to her mother Mia Jackson April 1867)

30. Julia Jackson, formal engagement photograph by Oscar Rejlander, 1867. 

The photos of Julia with her hair down, which Mary so admires, were part of a remarkable series of photographs taken by Julia Margaret Cameron. They are very unconventional, showing Julia with her hair shockingly loose, uncovered and free-flowing for a Victorian woman, especially one about to be married. Her gaze is provocatively wide-eyed, bold and direct; instead of demurely and submissively downcast. These photographs are overtly sexualised: the opposite of the virginal, modest image expected of a young bride-to be. 

The images taken by Rejlander are conventional engagement studio photographs. Julia here looks elegantly formal with her hair securely pinned up. Her dress is, unusually for her, straight-bodiced and tight-waisted; she is very tightly corseted.

In April the Pattle sisters gathered round for more photography sessions interspersed with dress fittings and discussion of wedding gifts. Julia described the drama and chaos of it all to Herbert in one long stream of consciousness:


This has been a very funny, unsettled day. If you had been here we should not have had a moment. First there was a long talk about dresses, then I had to see Aunt Virginia [Lady Somers] holding a cloth behind me [for photography] She could not help laughing at Aunt Julia’s face so I laughed and what would have been a good photo was spoiled. Then Aunt Virginia wanted photos of Mary, the parlourmaid, and luncheon which was ready had to be sent away and kept for more than an hour, and then at three Aunt Virginia was to go, but she wanted to pose Mary again, and delayed and delayed, and Papa walked in and out with “Virginia, you will be too late”, and my watch was ridiculed by his and the whole scene was most absurd. At last she went with Papa and I was photoed; three are successes, but, darling, so much too good for me. I think you must have them and not me for I am not in the least like them. Then I had to try on a dress and while I was doing this Aunt Virginia reappeared. She had just been too late; Papa wondering at her bearing it with such cheerfulness and declaring that my watch had gained ten minutes in the night. Then Mama went out on the terrace in the carriage and Mary Hillier was again photoed and at the last minute Papa was in equal agitation and the whole thing was like a play. Aunt Virginia went at five and I think has been in time. She has helped us very much in every way during her short visit. She was delighted with your photo darling, and said “What a lovely mouth”. And so it is. Either she or Aunt Sara will give me the beautiful gold chain with a morning locket. Aunt Virginia wants very much to give me a tunic of black lace, but must speak to Uncle Eastnor first as of course this is a much more expensive gift. Anyhow one or the other will give the locket so do you think I might write to your Mother and ask her to give an evening locket or a brooch. Neither cost as much as an amethyst and I should be able to wear them much oftener which is just what I would like but tell me what you would like I should do about it but, darling, don’t say anything if you think there is any possibility of it’s hurting anyone’s feelings.

                                                (Julia Jackson  to Herbert Duckworth Saxonbury, 11 April)

Mia decided that Saxonbury needed a major make-over to be suitable to hold the wedding breakfast there. The family moved out to the Queens Hotel in Hastings to avoid all the noise, dust and smells of oil paint. Mia was usually confined to her room, so plans were carried out by Julia and her father: 

After breakfast he and I talked of the alterations at Saxonbury and the wedding breakfast and he is in the highest sprits about everything. It seems I must go to London for new carpets are wanted which I must choose. Papa said that as I did not want a piano he should give us the equivalent in money to be spent in buying something abroad. Also that a walnut dressing table, which he bought some time ago, was for me. I thought it was as Mary had one, but I was not sure. Papa thinks he had better give us something solid and not money. What do you think? I suppose it would be at least £70.

                                                                                    (Julia to Herbert, Hastings April)

Julia occupied herself writing letters and reading improving literature, such as the life of St Francis, to make herself ‘good enough’ for Herbert. However, she discovered that the story evolving around her, in which she was the heroine, was much more fascinating than anything she could read:  

Adam Bede is a very clever book and I should have delighted in it a little time ago, but now there seems to me a much more wonderful story going on in which I have a part. It is a strange feeling to me as I used to get very absorbed in everything I read, and now I find myself looking at the fire and wondering what you are about and thinking of what you have said at interesting parts of the story.

When she wanted light relief she chose her friend Anny Ritchie’s new novel, The Village on the Cliff. Anny’s novel, which had been published in book form only that January, was mostly set in Northern France and its scenes and characters, drawn on Anny Ritchie’s own experiences, would also have resonated with Julia.  

Julia was also concerned with wedding arrangements and with wedding presents: 

The two o’clock post did not come till five on account of the engine drivers having struck and I had given up all hopes of a letter, will you really be back this day week? How delightful it will be. […] I dare say we shall see beautiful things at the Paris Exhibition. I think with one of the £50 it would be nice to get a dessert service. We could get a really handsome one for that price and I think it is very pleasant to have good china! I know you will say: ‘How extravagant you are getting!’ But, really, dear, independently of ourselves people like to have something which they can see and know is their present. […] About a Holbein; a really good one costs a great deal. Alice Gurney had some stones like Mama’s and had them added to and made into a Holbein and it cost £50. When I go to town I am to take Mama’s stones and see what can be done.

(Julia Jackson to Herbert Duckworth 26 March) 

Julia’s sister Mary wrote frequent letters full of family gossip and details of wedding dresses, fabrics and hats. 

My darling mother

Babe writes that the exquisite shot silk that I admired so much is to be given to me – it is really too beautiful and I can’t bear to have it – to think of your troubling yourself about my gown darling when you are overwhelmed with work – I never saw anything I admired so much but it was chiefly thinking of how Babe would look in it. You must let me have it made up darling at all events – [Marie?] is quite well and has nothing to do […] My love to dear Babe – I am afraid she has been tiring herself about my bonnet and writing about all the things and she really ought to have rest and try to look better before the 1st. I am sure to like F’s hat only I must pay for it. We are all well darling. Take care of yourself.

Yr fondest child
May Fisher.

(Mary Fisher to Mia Jackson, Onslow Square April 1867)

Herbert was concerned with financial affairs, telling Julia,  

My father is putting £500 to my account:  
£100 for linen
£200 for three months advance on our £800 a year
£100 towards the expense of our wedding tour
£50 instead of a locket for you to buy whatever you like abroad
£50 due to me on my bachelor account.

There were some settlements and bills to pay. Herbert did not want them to, 

owe one farthing when we start in the world together. I shall be at Westminster all morning and get our licence in the afternoon. When that is done it will seem nearer the 1st of May. 

He had sessions to attend, this time unusually in Tunbridge Wells, very near Saxonbury. He told Julia,

How glad I am to be off – never to return again a bachelor. The days go slowly now until Thursday.

Julia was longing for her wedding day, telling Herbert, 

The 1st can’t be too near for me, darling, it would be useless for me to tell you how I long for it every day now. When we were first engaged that seemed happiness enough for me and so it was, only I long for us to belong quite to one another and to be always together. 

The family frenzy was increasing. Mary was doing last minute shopping for Julia in London:


My darling Babe;

I have ordered all your things and I hope you will like them. I bring them all down on Tuesday. The Bouquet will be packed up in a box quite ready to use and need not be undone the man assured me till you wanted it – and he says it will keep well in the box. He sends it here on Tuesday. Atkinsons promised to put J.D. on your brushes. They are not quite like mine but I like them better and Herbert liked them too. I chose a medium sized tortoiseshell comb. I hope you did not want one of those large ones. I tried to get a brush with a glass at the back like Aunt Sophie’s but neither Atkinsons or Trufitt had them; they said they were only to be had in common material. I got at Truefitts a very pretty tiny ivory brush, and a little tiny glass, separate, the size of the back of the brush. I hope that will do. I had a fly and did everything very comfortably. Mr and Mrs. Duckworth will be going down to Saxonbury today. I had a long letter from Miss E. begging me to write by return of post all the particulars of the bridesmaids’ dresses etc. We come by the 2.20 trains on Tuesday and Mark and Marie will be at T Wells at 1.1pm on Monday. The brushes were double the price you named, darling, 24/- each, but they are just the size of mine and they said they never keep inferior sorts. The bouquet is to be 2 guineas which was their regular price, only a Brussels lace bouquet holder might bring it up to any price they said. – My love to Herbert. Don’t tire yourself, darling.

Yours fondest sister

We ordered the brush case also.

                                                (Mary Fisher to Julia Jackson Onslow Square 28 March )

The Wedding

William Arthur was to conduct the marriage service. As ever he recorded events in his diary in meticulous detail. On Monday 29 he and his family travelled to Tunbridge Wells where they were staying at the Calverley Hotel along with William and Margaret, Minna, Russell and family and other Duckworth relations and friends. Herbert and Julia went to meet them there. 

On Tuesday 30, a cold morning squally with hail showers, William Arthur set off to walk the some 5 miles to Saxonbury. After walking up a long hill he was lucky enough to be offered a lift in the baker’s cart. At Saxonbury he found ‘Herbert and Julia in the middle of plants and flowers and bustle’. Mia Jackson had retired to her room unable to see anyone. After making final arrangements for the wedding service, William Arthur returned to his hotel in Tunbridge Wells in the same baker’s cart, arriving in time for lunch. Ena ‘remained quiet’ in the afternoon but others visited nearby Penshurst Place. More friends had arrived in time for dinner that evening. William Arthur thought that ‘poor Carry Philips’, who at one time might have thought herself to be Herbert’s choice, ‘seemed very out of spirits’.

Julia and Herbert were married on Wednesday 1 May in the church in Frant. ‘Five flys and pair of grey horses’ carried the Duckworth family and friends from the Calverley Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, to Frant for 11.30. William Arthur read the service at 11.45. 

31. Frant Church, 1850.

Julia wore ‘high white satin with train and Venetian sleeves’. She was ‘rather pale and tired, but remembering everybody’. The bridesmaids were Carry Philips, Isabella and Adeline Somers-Cocks, Miss Prinsep, Cecily Duckworth and little Florence Fisher. The best men were Herbert’s friends Judge Frank Baron and Dudley Campbell. Uncle Robert Philips, brother of Herbert’s deceased mother Hester, ‘was in tears at the end of the ceremony’. On the marriage certificate Herbert Duckworth was described as a Barrister at Law, and his father William, as a Proprietor. John Jackson was an M.D.. The witnesses were John Jackson and Adeline Somers-Cocks.

The Church had been full and 50-60 relations and friends went back for the wedding breakfast at Saxonbury. The table had been extended through two adjoin rooms. Mia again stayed in her room. William Arthur was introduced to the Pattle sisters: ‘Lady Somers beautiful’, ‘Mrs Cameron clever photographist’, Mrs Baillie and ‘Mrs Dalrymple ritualist’. Lord Somers made a short speech and Herbert replied, ‘We both thank you heartily for our good wishes’. 

Then at 5.15 some of the family went to Frant station to see Herbert and Julia off on their honeymoon. William Arthur had lent them the Rectory at Puttenham, while he, Ena and the children went to the London house. It was the beginning of their life together and the happiest years of Julia’s life. 

From: A Vision of Beauty: A Biography of Julia Prinsep Stephen by Marion Dell. © CC BY-NC-SA unless otherwise stated; image copyrights are listed in the credits and they are not licensed for re-use.

Acknowledgements and sources

DAL – Dalingridge, the house Julia’s son, George Duckworth, built and his descendants lived in until recently. My grateful thanks to the late Hon. Katharine Duckworth, and to Sarah Munro and Harriet grafin von Einsiedel, for allowing me to see and copy letters, photographs and other material from the amazing Duckworth family scrapbook when it was at Dalingridge, and to use it here. This scrapbook is now part of the Duckworth archive in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.  

WAD – William Arthur Duckworth. I am grateful to the staff at the Somerset County Record office in Taunton, for helping me locate all their extensive holdings about Duckworth family history, estate records and photographs. The many diaries of the Reverend W A Duckworth (DD/DU/184-194) have been especially useful, as has his Puttenham Rectory Diary and Guest Register 1859-1893 (DD/DU153). 

MM – Michael McGarvie. My grateful thanks to Michael McGarvie F.S.A., B.E.M. for showing me around when I visited Orchardleigh, and for so generously sharing his expert knowledge based on extensive research into the local history of the Frome area of Somerset. For information on the Duckworth family at Orchardleigh, I have drawn heavily on his publications, which include: Orchardleigh House, reprinted from the transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, Volume 27, 1983, by the Frome Historical Research group; ‘The Glory that was the Duckworths’ (West Country magazine, March 1989); ‘Orchardleigh and Lullington’, chapter Seven in The Archive Photographs Series, Around Frome, compiled by Michael McGarvie (Frome: Chalford, 1997); Orchardleigh Park and the Duckworthsa narrative based on family diaries and letters, (Frome: Frome Society for Local Study, 1997).  

Smith College. I am grateful to Karen Kukil and her colleagues then at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts for showing me Leslie Stephen’s photograph album, which has now been digitised.

Lushington Archive. Thanks to Dr David Taylor, local historian and author of many works on the Lushington family, for drawing my attention to the letters from Vernon Lushington to his wife Jane in which he described his meetings with Herbert and Julia. These letters are now in the Lushington archive in the Surrey History Centre, Woking.

Christie’s catalogue, 21 and 22 September 1987. In 1987, after the death of Arthur, Duckworth, the Orchardleigh estate was put up for sale for only the second time in its 500 year existence. Some images are from the catalogue for that sale, 21 and 22 September 1987.

Picture credits

  1. Herbert Duckworth. Photographer possibly Oscar Rejlander. Leslie Stephen Photograph Album 34g, Smith College Special Collections.  https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/object/smith:1342186 (accessed 23/09/22)
  2. Admiral Sir John Duckworth (at Orchardleigh). Author’s own photograph.
  3. Anna Duckworth – later Lady Coltman.  https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/A-portrait-of-Anna-Duckworth-later-Lady-/91819B1A701A2551 (accessed 23/09/22)
  4. William Duckworth (1795-1876). MM.
  5. Hester Philips. Christie’s Catalogue for the Orchardleigh Park sale 21/22 September 1987.
  6. The Park, Prestwich. The Philips Family of The Park, an album compiled and described by Ian Pringle, 2009.   https://www.pilkingtons-lancastrian.co.uk/Animals/Philips%20Park.pdf (accessed 24/09/22)
  7. Drawing of the south front of The Park by Hester Philips.  The Philips Family of The Park, an album compiled and described by Ian Pringle, 2009. https://www.pilkingtons-lancastrian.co.uk/Animals/Philips%20Park.pdf (accessed 24/09/22)
  8. Beechwood drawing room and library c. 1852-1856. Christie’s Catalogue for the Orchardleigh Park sale 21/22 September 1987.
  9. The Duckworth Family Nutting at Beechwood. DAL.
  10. Letter from Trinity to Minna. DAL.
  11. Herbert and his siblings. DAL.
  12. Late 19th century map showing Orchardleigh and nearby Lullington and Frome.            Ordnance Survey. One-inch to the mile, Revised New Series (Outline Edition). Revised: 1897 Published: 1898, sheet 251.
  13. The building work photographed by William Arthur Duckworth. Christie’s Catalogue for the Orchardleigh Park sale 21/22 September 1987.
  14. Orchardleigh. A watercolour from the office of architect T.H. Wyatt, c1856/7. Christie’s Catalogue for the Orchardleigh Park sale 21/22 September 1987.
  15. A family group on the terrace in front of Orchardleigh c.1870. MM.
  16. Orchardleigh gardens near the house c.1870. MM
  17. Herbert in lawyer’s wig. Anonymous photographer. Leslie Stephen Photograph Album 34a, Smith College Special Collections. https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/object/smith:1342180 (accessed 23/09/22)
  18. William Arthur Duckworth. MM
  19. The Hon. Edina (Ena) Campbell, wife of William Arthur Duckworth. MM
  20. Saxonbury. Julia Margaret Cameron c.1867. Leslie Stephen Photograph Album 32, Smith College Special Collections. https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/object/smith:1342176 (accessed 25/09/22)
  21. The Devil’s Punchbowl, Hindhead, A. R. Quinton postcard. Vintage Salmon postcard.
  22. Anny Thackeray c.1870.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Isabella_Thackeray_Ritchie (accessed 24/09/22)
  23. Minny Thackeray and Lesley Stephen, 1867.  Leslie Stephen Photograph Album 35d, Smith College Special Collections. https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/object/smith:1342195 (accessed 23/09/22)
  24. Julia Jackson, probably by Rejlander, c. 1863. Courtesy of Charleston Archive 072.
  25. The front entrance to Orchardleigh showing French style architecture. Christie’s Catalogue for the Orchardleigh Park sale 21/22 September 1987.
  26. Puttenham Rectory – a drawing by William Arthur Duckworth. DAL
  27. Invitation to Julia and Herbert’s wedding. DAL
  28. Julia and Herbert engagement photo. Leslie Stephen Photograph Album 33a, Smith College Special Collections. https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/object/smith:1342177 (accessed 23/09/22)
  29. Julia Margaret Cameron photograph of Julia with loose hair. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O227878/julia-jackson-photograph-cameron-julia-margaret/ (accessed 25/09/22)
  30. Julia Jackson, formal engagement photograph by Oscar Rejlander 1867. Leslie Stephen Photograph Album 33c, Smith College Special Collections. https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/object/smith:1342179 (accessed 28/09/22)
  31. Frant Church 1850. DAL.


Full publishing details can be found in the Bibliography, under Resources


  1. Leslie Stephen. Mausoleum Book 35.
  2. Alfred Spencer (ed.) The Memoirs of William Hickey. Volume IV 239.
  3. The name is sometimes written Orchard Leigh, but is more commonly one word.
  4. Michael McGarvie Orchardleigh House (Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, Vol, 27, 1983).
  5. Michael McGarvie Orchardleigh Park and the Duckworths (Frome: Frome Society for Local Study, 1997) 5.
  6. Virginia Woolf ’22 Hyde Park Gate’ in Jeanne Schulkind (ed.) Moments of Being, 36.
  7. Herbert would have been a cavalry officer in the yeomanry, which was a volunteer force much like the modern Territorial Army. A Cornet was the lowest rank of officer.
  8. Leslie Stephen Mausoleum Book 36.
  9. Vernon Lushington to his wife Jane, 27 March 1867. The Lushington archive.
  10. Leslie Stephen, in his Mausoleum Book, records the date erroneously as 4 May, a date which has been copied by many future biographers.