Frances Spalding

Angel of the North East

Lady Trevelyan and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood


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In 1855, a journalist, surveying the growing prosperity of the North East, noticed a preference among the Newcastle and Sunderland people for champagne and claret, whereas interest in the fine arts seemed to be dead and buried. Ironically, this same year Pauline Trevelyan conceived of a major decorative scheme for the central hall at Wallington, in Northumberland. This vast cycle was to narrate and celebrate the history of the area (from the building of Hadrian’s Wall to the development of Tyneside’s industries); to be a showcase for the Pre-Raphaelite style; and to uphold the teachings of her close friend, John Ruskin. It achieved all this and more, for it prompted decorative schemes elsewhere, notably Ford Madox Brown’s record of the history of Manchester on the walls of its Town Hall.

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