Photographs by the author. Many thanks to the National Trust at Kingston Lacy for permitting me to reproduce them here, and to Tricia and Iain Frew for arranging the visit to the house and making it so enjoyable. [Click on the images to produce larger pictures.]

Left: Marochetti's full-size statue of Lady Mary Bankes. Right: Close-up of her hand holding the key to Corfe Castle.

Statue of Lady Mary Bankes by Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-1867), in the loggia at Kingston Lacy in Dorset. The loggia, forming a mezzanine at the first turn of the house's marble staircase, is a unique feature of the house, serving partly as a sculpture gallery, and partly as a shrine. Of the three bronze and roughly life-size statues that were installed here in 1855, this one is perhaps the most remarkable, in that it commemorates a woman whose heroism in the English Civil War of the seventeenth century is legendary. While her husband Sir John Bankes was away from home serving King Charles I, she and her household defended their seat at Corfe Castle with resolution during the first of two sieges. When, despite their continued resistance and the help of Royalist forces, the castle was later taken and reduced to ruins, the parliamentarian commander, a Colonel Bingham, presented her with the keys "as a gesture of respect for her courage.... The keys were later enshrined in the family's new house at Kingston Lacy, Dorset" (Donagan). This is why Lady Mary is shown holding a large key in one hand. As Lydia Greeves says, the actual keys are displayed over the fireplace in the library (186).

Close-up of Lady Mary's upper part.

The mother of fourteen children, Lady Mary had been forced by the civil war to turn her strength of mind "not only to the military action for which she attained a degree of fame but, like many other women who gained no such renown, to the preservation of the family fortunes" (Donagan). Marochetti has rendered her clothes and adornments, including the oval medallion featuring Charles I (see Ward-Jackson 279), in exquisite detail. Her hand is firmly on the hilt of her unsheathed sword, and her stance and the set of her head proclaim her resolute nature. This makes such a contrast with the same sculptor's recumbent memorial sculpture of young Princess Elizabeth Stuart, Charles I's unlucky and helpless daughter. Marochetti's versatility is astonishing.

Related Material


"Brave Dame Mary and a Castle under Siege." National Trust. Web. 18 March 2018.

Donagan, Barbara. "Bankes [née Hawtrey], Mary, Lady Bankes (d. 1661). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 18 March 2018.

Greeves, Lydia. Houses of the National Trust. London: National Trust Books, 2008.

_____. "Expiatory Monuments by Carlo Marochetti in Dorset and the Isle of Wight." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. Vol. 53, 1990: 266-280. Accessed via JSTOR. Web. 18 March 2018.

Created 19 March 2018