Robert Nixon, Park Farm Place, in Kent, the Seat of Lady James, 1795, Private Collection. 

© Ellen Bulford Welch.

 

In many of its earliest appearances in works of art, Severndroog features in the background of a picture of something (or someone) else. However, while the castle may not be the main subject of these images, they nonetheless tell us important information, or reveal messages, about aspects of its history. The tower is visible on the left-hand side of the Reverend Robert Nixon’s coloured engraving of Park Farm Place, a mansion that stood on what is now the site of St Mary’s Primary School in Eltham. Park Farm Place was the home of Lady Anne James, who built Severndroog in 1784 to commemorate the colonial exploits of her late husband, and former director of the East India Company, Sir William James. Severndroog’s presence in Nixon’s print is intended as a reminder of both Sir William’s 1755 capture of Suvarnadurg Fort in India and Lady James’s famed devotion to her husband. The castle's inclusion also draws attention to Lady James's status as a female patron of architecture at a time when women's involvement in such cultural pursuits was still seen to be relatively unusual.

 

Robert Nixon, Park Farm Place, in Kent, the Seat of Lady James ​(1795)