Dorothy Bonham

And an unknown boy, painted by an unknown artist around 1638-41. Dorothy, or more correctly Dame Dorothy may or may not have been Lady in Waiting to Elizabeth I in her youth and was also rumoured to have played a part in foiling the Gunpowder Plot, though later investigation revealed that her part was choosing the story as the subject of a tapestry that she made after the event! Dorothy died in 1641 apparently from being pricked by an infected needle (though this may have been fabricated too to attract visitors to the Hall) shortly after this portrait was completed. A popular story has her body walled up and her ghost walking the corridors of Ightham Mote. Sadly also not true, the grand Dame was safely interred in the local churchyard, but why let the facts get in the way of a cracking story?

Anyway, this picture caught my eye because Dorothy is not dressed in the latest fashion unlike the rather sad little boy in pink stood next to her. She is wearing a black petticoat and bodice over which she seems to have a red partlet or (perhaps a sleeveless waistcoat) covering her body and a large starched ruff around her neck. She’s keeping her head warm with a black hood and possibly a lace coif underneath. The boy is in a fashionable pink suit; matching doublet (slashed sleeves to show his shirt), breeches (trimmed with ribbon) and short cloak with a laced linen falling band and cuffs with matching ribbons on his shoes and pink hose.

Dorothy Bonham

Dorothy was some looker, forty years earlier. Both paintings are at Ightham Mote House  in Kent.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 16.49.59

M

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5 Responses to “Dorothy Bonham”

  1. Could you let me know your source for the lady in waiting to Elizabeth I story please?

  2. It’s here Pat. She was also Dame Dorothy Selby by marriage. http://www.gunpowder-plot.org/ightham.asp

    • Just like the false Gunpowder Plot story, there is no evidence that Dame Dorothy was a lady in waiting to Elizabeth I. A nice story, but no documentary proof. Actually she became Lady Selby when her husband was knighted in 1603. Dame was the title given to a woman of a certain status in that period and was not used as we use it now. I’m also interested in the poisoned finger theory and would like to know of original sources for that.

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