Relatives on hand to see King’s Lynn Museum unveil portraits

Official Unveiling of the restored portraits of John and Elizabeth Langley at King's Lynn Museum 
Our picture with descendants of the Langley�"s LtoR, Andrew Saunders (portrait donor), Shirley Howell, Beryl Balinas, Ian Dye, Norah Howe-Smith, Keith Wade
Official Unveiling of the restored portraits of John and Elizabeth Langley at King's Lynn Museum Our picture with descendants of the Langley�"s LtoR, Andrew Saunders (portrait donor), Shirley Howell, Beryl Balinas, Ian Dye, Norah Howe-Smith, Keith Wade

King’s Lynn Museum welcomed guests to a special event on Monday when newly-acquired portraits of famous townspeople were unveiled.

The two conserved pictures were couple John and Elizabeth Langley, who lived in Lynn in the early 1800s.

John was born in 1772 and at the age of 17 enlisted into the Marines. Two years later Captain George Vancouver began his voyage round the world with two ships, the Discovery and the Chatham.

John was assigned to the Chatham. On the return to England he was promoted to corporal in 1796 and to sergeant in 1797.

By 1807 John and his first wife Susanna were living in Lynn. The couple had four children, before Susanna’s death in 1810.

In 1812 John married his second wife Elizabeth Wade in St Nicholas Chapel.

By this time John was landlord of the Bird in Hand public house at 19 Norfolk Street.

John and Elizabeth had 10 children and many of their descendants attended the unveiling event.

The pair retired to Gaywood and lived in Victoria Place. John died in 1856 aged 84. Elizabeth died in 1865 aged 76. They are buried in St Faith’s churchyard.

Both paintings are unsigned although the portrait of Mrs Langley has been inscribed on the reverse of the canvas: “Mrs Langley aged 64 painted by Hunter July 6 1850”.

The style and date suggests that the two portraits are contemporary and completed by the same artist.

The portraits were given to the museum by a direct descendent of the Langleys.

At the time of their donation the historic varnish had discoloured causing the image of the people portrayed to appear dark and difficult to see.

Funding for the restoration was given by Woodmansterne, the Friends of King’s Lynn Museum and private donations.

The conservation of the paintings was undertaken by a specialist paintings conservator based near Cambridge.

Dayna Woolbright, assistant curator at Lynn Museum said: “The portraits are a fantastic addition to the museum collection. We can use them to tell the story of the town’s maritime history. I am very grateful to Woodmansterne, the Friends of Lynn Museum and the individual donors for their support.”

Imogen Clarke, curatorial trainee said “It was brilliant to welcome family descendants of the Langleys to this exciting unveiling.”