The Twickenham Museum
People : Royals, Peers and Courtiers

Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford
Performer in masques

Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford

Marries the Earl of Bedford

Lucy Harington (1581-1627) was the daughter of Sir John, later Lord Harington. In 1594, at the age of 13 she was married to Edward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford then aged 22. He was an invalid and she largely led her own life.

Buys Twickenham Park estate

A wealthy woman in her own right, in 1608 she bought the Twickenham Park estate from Francis Bacon and made it her principal residence.

The gardens were laid out and a new house built, reputedly to the designs of Robert Smythson, although there is some doubt about this. What is certain only is that he made a drawing of the house and garden, dated 1609 (as he did also of Ham House), which may have been a survey rather than a design. It is likely that the house was still under construction at the time.

A woman of influence

She was a close friend of Queen Anne who made her a Lady of the Bedchamber. From 1603 to 1620 she was one of the most influential women in England: talented, charming, vivacious, and a performer in masques designed by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones.

Her houses were a meeting place for poets, writers and wits whom she patronised. One of these John Donne wrote, among other things, a poem titled Twicknam Garden.

In 1617 her husband purchased Moor Park in Hertfordshire and she moved there, passing the lease of Twickenham Park to her cousin Sir William Harington. An extravagant woman, she had spent her fortune and, in 1627, she died a few days after her husband, "having no belongings."

Further reading:

Alan C B Urwin, Twicknam Parke, Alan Urwin, 1965
A C B Urwin, The Houses and Gardens of Twickenham Park 1227-1805, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No 54, 1984
Dictionary of National Biography

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