The history of the Campbell Earls of Breadalbane & Holland stretches far back into the late 17th century in Scottish history and the family can trace their origins to the early 13th century. It is however their period whilst at Taymouth Castle from the early 18th century until the family sold up and left in 1922, when not just the power and wealth is at its peak but their influence on Scottish society is seen.
Lot no. 7 is the Royal Charter and seal box belonging to John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane & Holland who was responsible for some early developments and land improvements at the future site of Taymouth in the 18th century. The 3rd Earl, was a Lord of the Admiralty and as Viscount Glenorchy Ambassador to both the Danish and Russian Courts. The beautiful seal box which was hand crafted by Francis Garthorne, London circa 1726, contains a wax impression of the great Royal seal of George I. This is the commission to Lord Glenorchy that grants him plenipotentiary power to act as Ambassador. The 3rd Earl, had no direct line heir at the time of his death, which meant all his titles went to a distant third cousin, John Campbell, subsequently created 1st Marquess of Breadalbane who went on to build Taymouth Castle. In addition to the Royal seal there is a significant collection of manuscripts relating to Taymouth Castle, the Earls of Breadalbane and Holland and the Breadalbane and Langton Estates dating throughout the 18th century and into 19th century.
Perhaps the most significant piece to be offered is the important portrait of John Campbell, Viscount Glenorchy painted by Thomas Gainsborough between 1762 and 1763. This portrait, lot 27, was commissioned by the sitter’s father - John, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane (1796-1862). It is known that Viscount Glenorchy made at least two visits to Bath in 1762, to ‘take the waters’ and during these trips in April and September he also sat to Gainsborough in his studio at 17 the Circus, Bath, where he had moved with his family in 1759.
Viscount Glenorchy, the sitter, had received Taymouth Castle from his father as a wedding present in the same year, 1762, when he married his bride Willielma Maxwell and at the same time he received Great Sugnall House, Staffordshire from his mother. Willielma Glenorchy, who had been introduced to Edinburgh society by her stepfather Lord Alva (1680-1763) sat herself to Gainsborough for a half-length portrait some two years later.
Taymouth Castle was built between 1806 and 1842 by John Campbell, 4th Earl and 1st Marquess of Breadalbane, in the Neo Gothic style to a design by the architects James & Archibald Elliot. Taymouth lies on the south bank of the River Tay on the site of the 16th century seat of Clan Campbell, Balloch Castle, just North East of the village of Kenmore. The castle is positioned in the heart of Scotland upon lands that, at their zenith, stretched across some 450,000 acres from Perthshire across into the West of Scotland and the Atlantic Ocean. No expense was spared during the construction of the castle, with its fabulous carvings, plasterwork and murals. Taymouth is considered one of the most impressive and important Scottish castles of the 19th century with its intricate plasterwork by the Anglo-Italian Francis Bernasconi, painted ceilings by the artist Cornelius Dixon and woodwork by Frederick Crace.
Throughout its history Taymouth Castle has played host to many a Clan Gathering and important guest. In 1819 Prince Leopold, the future king of Belgium, visited. It was on these occasions that the Breadalbane Fencibles, a private army of over 2,000 local men, and all other local tenants welcomed the guests with Royal salutes and grand galas. One of the most significant visits was from the 7th – 10th September 1842 when Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert visited the 2nd Marquess when the castle went through substantial upgrading and renovation in the lead up to the royal visit.
Linked to this Royal Visit is the extensive Breadalbane Heather pattern Worcester porcelain breakfast service which may well have been the first production of the Heather pattern. It was supplied to John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, prior to the visit to Taymouth Castle by Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert. The 2nd Marquess wore highland dress and made huge efforts to make the royal visit memorable and a truly ‘Scottish’ experience for the couple. It is said that Her Majesty’s visit to Taymouth confirmed Victoria’s love of Scotland and the Highlands where in 1852 she purchased Balmoral.
Gavin Campbell, 7th Earl (and 1st Marquess of the second creation) succeeded his father John in 1871 and was a very prominent member of Victorian Society holding many important roles – including Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen, Treasurer to the Royal Household (1880-1885), Privy Councillor from 1880, Lord Steward of the Household 1892-1895, Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of Scotland 1883-1885, A.D.C. to King Edward VII, Keeper of the Privy Seals of Scotland 1907, Brigadier-General of the Royal Company of Archers – the Royal Body Guard for Scotland, and many more.
In 1893 Lord Breadalbane was created a Knight of the Garter, the highest and oldest order of chivalry in the land. By this time he was also a Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John and a Knight of the Swedish Order of the Seraphim. On his death in 1922 the Marquisate again died out but the Earldoms of Breadalbane and Holland passed briefly to a nephew who died the following year. There was then a week long sale of the contents of Taymouth Castle. After this the family titles then once again went to distant kinsmen but all became dormant at the death of the 10th Earl in 1995.
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