George Pickering – West House, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The Property of Anthony Lax Maynard (1742-1825)


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A fine pencil, pen and ink and watercolour on wove paper. Inscribed in pencil by a later hand outside the drawing (lower left); Southeast View of the House of A. L Maynard Esq 1812. Further inscribed ‘54’ in pen and ink verso. Inlaid onto a sheet of white paper and mounted.

Provenance: The Ruskin Gallery, 11 Chapel Street, Stratford-On-Avon. Label attached to back of frame.

Sheet: 7 1/4 x 10 7/16 in. (18.5 x 26.5 cm.)
Frame: 14 9/16 x 17 1/8 in. (37 x 43.4 cm.)

Inlay: Is a term used in paper conservation and mounting to refer to a false margin attached to a work of art which enables handling without touching the original.


West House was a country villa situated almost in the centre of Chesterfield.

The land appears originally to have had a confusing succession of owners, but in 1765 George Holland, who had owned the site for eight years sold it to opulent lead mining entrepreneur Nicholas Twigg for £110. He enlarged the plot in 1769 and proceeded to build a new house. Twigg re-sold the land along with his ‘newly erected messuage’ to Anthony Lax in 1770.

Lax was the scion of a minor Yorkshire landowner whose mother, Sarah Jefferson, was the great grand-daughter and ultimate heiress of the somewhat grander Maynard’s of Kirk Levington Hall in that county. The wedding was on the 22nd of May 1766 and the settlement would appear to have included the large area called West Fields either side of West Bars so the acquisition of a brand-new house adjacent would have made much sense.

West House was quite a grand brick house of two and a half storeys, the five-bay entrance front facing West Bars, from which it was artfully shielded by trees. The architect was almost certainly Edmund Stanley, a Nottinghamshire born builder-architect who settled in the town in 1763.

The interior was apparently well fitted up with good joinery including a very fine staircase leading off the hall; as was de rigeur for the whole of the first half of the 18th century, then the dining room was panelled. The grounds were landscaped as a small park.

Anthony Lax’s mother Sarah, apparently a redoubtable old girl and keen to be seen as a cut above Chesterfield’s municipal elite, assumed the surname of Maynard in September 1784 and the following March received a grant of arms, so the owners of West House henceforth became Maynard’s. Anthony died in 1825 without issue, leaving the house to his brother John’s fourth son, Edward Gilling Maynard.

in 1935 after a succession of different owners the freehold was sold to the Borough of Chesterfield which demolished it soon afterwards to make way for Chesterfield’s new Town Hall.


Pickering, George (1794-1857)

George Pickering was born in Yorkshire and worked very much in the style of John Glover. He succeeded George Cuitt the younger as a drawing-master in Chester and in 1827 exhibited at the Liverpool Academy, as a non-resident member. He also exhibited in London from 1815 to 1828. T. Allom worked up some of his drawings for exhibition. The plates by Edward Francis Finden which illustrate both the first (1829) and second (1831) series of Roby's ‘Traditions of Lancashire’ are after drawings by Pickering, which were reproduced by the engraver. He also drew many of the fine landscapes that are engraved in Ormerod's ‘History of Cheshire’ and in Baines's ‘History of the County Palatine of Lancaster.’ In 1836 he had a studio at 53 Bold Street, Liverpool. Some years later he resided at Grange Mount, Birkenhead, where he continued to practise as an artist and teacher of drawing. He died there in March 1857.