A very unique pair of watercolors depicting swan marks relating to the Holdyche / Holditch family of
Dudlington / Didlington Hall Norfolk .The actual history of Swan marking dates back to the 15th Century.
The 1482 "Act of Swans" issued the right for wealthy land owners,abbots, lords etc to legally own
swans from the crown providing their wings were pinioned ( clipped ) and their beaks were marked with various eclectic hieroglyphics, ( as shown in the second watercolor ) to prove ownership which would stop disputes & theft from the rightful owner. The ownership Marks were all listed down in a velum paged book and was usually held by Tudor / Elizabethan Monarchy of the day. The process of the marking would usually involve a sharp knife which would cut into the upper beak of the swan creating this 15th / 16th Century branding the equivalent today of a modern barcode. this process was later deemed cruel in the first part of the twentieth century by Queen Alexandria and was banned.
Holdyche Family. Were Wealthy landowners who can be traced back to the reign of Edward 111 (1312 - 1377) Richard de Holditch Lord of Dudlington through to John Holditch esq who was lord of the Manor to around 1600 .
These Incredibly rare & historical watercolors were painted in 1879 by Lucy Henrietta Boileau
wife of Sir Francis Boileau (1830 -1900 ) of Kettringham Hall for Lord Amhurst of
Didlington Hall & Hackney, "Lord Amhurst`s Norfolk swan marks" Copied from an old swan roll belonging to Erasmus Earle Esq ( now Col Bulwer ) . all this information can be found on the reverse of each watercolor. The only other similar works to these watercolors can be found in very rare 16th century books which are kept in the British Library, The Royal Society and other Important Institutions .
Provenance Lord Amhurst. Didlington Hall
Ref - Didlington Hall also referred to as Dudlington
The Name Holdyche also spelt as Holditch ( various spellings through the ages )
For near Identical drawings / paintings regarding Lord Amhurst Swan Markings, see food history jottings blogspot.co.uk "A Swan Supper On The Thames" extract from the Royal Society
" A register of swan bill marks compiled by Elizabeth1`s Swan Master.
Lastly Didlington Hall ( extract taken from England`s Lost Country Houses )
The loss of Didlington Hall and the fabulous collection it held is still lamented locally and is widely regarded as one of the most serious of the many losses in Norfolk. If house and collection had remained intact it would today be probably regarded as one of the treasure houses of England.
Dimensions of Watercolors
Naturalistic swans head 5 1/2" x 4 1/2"
Swan Markings 8 x 8 1/2"
both housed in glass black frames.
Code : Lucy H Boileau 1879 ( Copies )