Mortlake Tapestries of Chatsworth

Mortlake Tapestries at Chatsworth House

Click here to learn more about the Mortlake Tapestries of Chatsworth

The Mortlake Tapestries were founded by Sir Francis Crane.

From the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 13

Crane, Francis
by William Prideaux Courtney

CRANE, Sir FRANCIS (d. 1636), was the director of the tapestry works established at Mortlake under the patronage of James I. His origin is generally assigned to Norfolk or Suffolk, but of his early history little is known. In April 1606 he had a grant for life of the office of clerk of the parliament, and he was secretary to Charles I when prince of Wales, and during his secretaryship he was knighted at Coventry (4 Sept. 1617). C. S. Gilbert in his history of Cornwall asserts that Crane was a member of the family of that name seated at Crane in Camborne, but this statement is unsupported by any authority. Nevertheless he was intimately connected with that county. His eldest sister married William Bond of Erth in Saltash, and his second sister married Gregory Arundel, and to the Arundels his estates ultimately passed. Through the influence of these connections and through the support of the Prince of Wales as duke of Cornwall, he was twice (1614, 1621) returned to parliament for the borough of Penryn, and for Launceston in 1624. In February 1618 his name was dragged into the Lake scandal, as Lady Lake charged the Countess of Exeter with having been on the death of her first husband, Sir James Smith, contracted in marriage to Sir Francis Crane, and with paying him the sum of 4,000l. in order that she might be freed from the bargain. Tapestry had been worked in England by fitful efforts for some time before 1619, but in that year a manufactory was established with the aid of the king in a house built by Crane on the north side of the High Street at Mortlake with the sum of 2,000l. given to him from the royal purse. James brought over a number of skilful tapestry workers from Flanders and encouraged the enterprise with an annual grant of 1,000l. The report spread about in August 1619 that the privilege of making three baronets had been granted to Crane to aid him in his labours, and the rumour seems to have been justified by the fact. In June 1623 it was rumoured that ten or twelve serjeants-at-law were to be made at the price of 500l. apiece, and that Crane would probably receive the payment ‘to further his tapestry works and pay off some scores owed him by Buckingham.’ In the first year of his reign Charles I owed the sum of 6,000l. for three suits of gold tapestry, and in satisfaction of the debt and ‘for the better maintenance of the said worke of tapestries’ a pension of 2,000l. per annum was granted for ten years. Grafton and several other manors in Northamptonshire were conveyed to Crane in February 1628 as security for the sum of 7,500l. advanced by him for the king’s service, but the magnitude of the grant was hateful to his rival courtiers, and the transaction caused him much trouble, which however seems to have ended at last with his triumph (Strafford Letters and Despatches (1739), i. 261, 336, 525). Stoke Park was granted to him in 1629, and there he built, after designs which he brought from Italy, a handsome house, afterwards visited by Charles I. As a further mark of royal favour he had a joint-patent with Frances, dowager duchess of Richmond and Lenox, for the exclusive coinage and issue for seventeen years of farthing tokens. About 1630 his enemies began to allege that he had made excessive profits out of his tapestry works, and it is difficult to refuse credence to the accusation. Crane, however, contended that the manufactory had never made a larger return than 2,500l., and that he was out of pocket in the business ‘above 16,000l.,’ so that his estate was wholly exhausted and his credit was spent. He suffered from stone in the bladder, and for the recovery of his health went to Paris in March 1636. Next month he underwent the usual operation, and at first it seemed successful, but ‘the wound grew to an ulcer and gangrene,’ and he died at Paris 26 June 1636. In the whole course of his illness, writes John lord Scudamore to secretary Windebank, ‘he behaved himself like a stout and humble christian and member of the church of England.’ His body was brought to England and buried at Woodrising in Norfolk, 10 July 1636, a gravestone to his memory being placed in the chancel of the church. He had bought the lordship of Woodrising from Sir Thomas Southwell, and it remained with his heirs until about 1668. His wife was Mary, eldest daughter of David Le Maire of London, a family which came from Tournay, and widow of Henry Swinnerton of London, and she survived until 1645. Sir Peter Le Maire, his wife’s brother, died as it seems early in 1632, when Crane wrote that he had come ‘into an inheritance further off than the king of Sweden’s conquests are likely to reach.’ As he died without issue, his property in Northamptonshire passed to his brother Richard Crane, created a baronet 20 March 1642, and that in Norfolk to his niece Frances, daughter of William Bond. He gave 500l. to the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and provided for the main- tenance of four additional poor knights at Windsor Castle.

At the time of Crane’s death 140 persons were employed in the works at Mortlake, and the manufactory was carried on long after 1636. Rubens and Vandyck are said to have assisted in the designs, and Klein the German was brought over to this country for the purpose of helping in the operations. For three pieces of tapestry, the largest of which depicted the history of Hero and Leander, the sum of 2,872l. was paid from the royal treasury in March 1636, and Archbishop Williams gave 2,500l. for representations of the four seasons. The hangings at Houghton with whole lengths of kings James and Charles and their relations, and the tapestry at Knole wrought in silk with portraits of Vandyck and Crane, were woven at Mortlake. The masterpiece of the works was the ‘Acts of the Apostles,’ presented to Louis XIV by James II, and now in the National Garde-Meuble of France. A representation of ‘Neptune and Cupid interceding for Mars and Venus’ from the Mortlake tapestry is reproduced in the 21st part of Guiffrey’s ‘General History of Tapestry.’ A portrait by Vandyck of Crane, who was the last lay chancellor of the order of the Garter, was in the possession of John Simco, who published a print of it in 1820.

[Baker’s Northamptonshire, ii. 241; Bridges’s Northamptonshire, i. 328; Blomefield’s Norfolk (1809), x. 278–81; Manning and Bray’s Surrey, iii. 302–3; J. E. Anderson’s Mortlake, pp. 31–5; Walpole’s Anecdotes of Painting (Dallaway), i. 235–7, iii. 488–94; Davis’s Translation of Müntz’s Tapestry, pp. 249, 295, 305; State Papers, 1603–36, passim; Lloyd’s State Worthies (1670 ed.), p. 953; Visit. of London, 1568 (Harl. Soc. 1869), p. 93; Burke’s Extinct Baronetcies.]

Top of Pg.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS


All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.

— Leonardo Da Vinci

The True and Correct History of DJ Vinyl Scratching

New York is well known for hotdogs, the Empire State Building, the Ponzi Scheme, and the Brooklyn Bridge among its many claims to fame. However, contrary to popular belief, DJ vinyl scratching is not one of them. Caveat; Most New Yorkers in fact believe the phenomena originated there.

In the [...] Read more →

Artistic Endeavour in the Absence of Country Gentlemen

The Garden at Somersby Rectory by W.E.F. Britten

When one thinks of the English countryside or rural France replete with rambling country house estates and fairly tale chateaus sitting alongside grand chapels and country church spires, one might imagine a realm of manners, neighborly love, and country gentlemen. However, history informs us [...] Read more →

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas – from Ghost Stories of M.R. James


Verum usque in præsentem diem multa garriunt inter se Canonici de abscondito quodam istius Abbatis Thomæ thesauro, quem sæpe, quanquam adhuc incassum, quæsiverunt Steinfeldenses. Ipsum enim Thomam adhuc florida in ætate existentem ingentem auri massam circa monasterium defodisse perhibent; de quo multoties interrogatus ubi esset, cum risu respondere solitus erat: “Job, [...] Read more →

The Age of Chivalry

CHAPTER 1 – Introduction


On the decline of the Roman power, about five centuries after Christ, the countries of Northern Europe were left almost destitute of a national government. Numerous chiefs, more or less powerful, held local sway, as far as each [...] Read more →

The History of Witchcraft in England – The Beginnings

The Beginnings of English Witchcraft

It has been said by a thoughtful writer that the subject of witchcraft has hardly received that place which it deserves in the history of opinions. There has been, of course, a reason for this neglect—the fact that the belief in witchcraft is no longer [...] Read more →

Penal Methods of the Middle Ages



Prisons as places of detention are very ancient institutions. As soon as men had learned the way to build, in stone, as in Egypt, or with bricks, as in Mesopotamia, when kings had many-towered fortresses, and the great barons castles [...] Read more →

Country House Essays Book Now in Print

Country House Essays, the book is now in print. This is an eclectic collection of both original, and historical essays, poems, books, and articles created for our loyal reader hear at It is jam packed with reprints of articles from this website. The cost is $49.95 for this massive [...] Read more →

Clarivoyance by C.W. Leadbeater

Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India, 1890


by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House




When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable [...] Read more →

Westminster Confession of Faith – 1646

CHAPTER I. Of the Holy Scripture.

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary [...] Read more →

Growing Muscadine Grapes in Tennessee

The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee has a long heralded tradition of assisting farmers and growers through it’s Agricultural Extension Service. The following bulletin entitled Grape Growing in Tennessee discusses the Muscadine variety of grapes among others. Muscadine grapes are often found growing wild in Tennessee. On my grandfather’s West Tennessee [...] Read more →

Platform of the American Institute of Banking in 1919

Resolution adapted at the New Orleans Convention of the American Institute of Banking, October 9, 1919:

“Ours is an educational association organized for the benefit of the banking fraternity of the country and within our membership may be found on an equal basis both employees and employers; and in full appreciation [...] Read more →

Parting Words to Kate from The Sloop of War, Jamestown

Sloop of War Jamestown – Photo from book The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series 1, Vol. 3.

Several years ago, I purchased a small memory book entitled Album of Love from the mid 1800s.

Much like scrap books of today, these books were used to keep [...] Read more →

Historic authenticity of the Spanish SAN FELIPE of 1690

Model of San Felipe

Reprinted from with the kind permission of Dr. Michael Czytko

The SAN FELIPE is one of the most favoured ships among the ship model builders. The model is elegant, very beautifully designed, and makes a decorative piece of art to be displayed at home or in [...] Read more →

The Late Rev. H.M. Scarth

H. M. Scarth, Rector of Wrington

By the death of Mr. Scarth on the 5th of April, at Tangier, where he had gone for his health’s sake, the familiar form of an old and much valued Member of the Institute has passed away. Harry Mengden Scarth was bron at Staindrop in Durham, [...] Read more →

Classic Restoration of a Spring Tied Upholstered Chair

This video by AT Restoration is the best hands on video I have run across on the basics of classic upholstery. Watch a master at work. Simply amazing.


Round needles: Double pointed hand needle: Hand tools: Staple gun (for beginner): Compressor for pneumatic [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt








WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act – Full Text


TITLE I – PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION OFFICE Chapter Section 1. Organization and Publications . 1 2. Legal Provisions as to the Plant Variety Protection Office . 21 3. Plant Variety Protection Fees . 31

CHAPTER 1.-ORGANIZATION AND PUBLICATIONS Section 1. Establishment.2 There is [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

The Hunt Saboteur

The Hunt Saboteur is a national disgrace barking out loud, black mask on her face get those dogs off, get them off she did yell until a swift kick from me mare her voice it did quell and sent the Hunt Saboteur scurrying up vale to the full cry of hounds drowning out her [...] Read more →

The Billesden Coplow Run

Smith, Charles Loraine; The Billesdon Coplow Run, Leicestershire

*note – Billesdon and Billesden have both been used to name the hunt.


[From “Reminiscences of the late Thomas Assheton Smith, Esq”]

The run celebrated in the following verses took place on the 24th of February, 1800, [...] Read more →