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Last Week I learned that …

May 13, 2013

Self-portrait Celia Fiennes

Last  week I learned that Noel Rooke; the artist and engraver had a wife; no real surprise there I suppose.   Celia Mary Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (1902-1998) better known as Celia Fiennes was a former student, artist and wood engraver. She was among the engravers chosen by Robert Gibbings to illustrate Golden Cockerel Press books from 1918 to 1938.  For him, Celia illustrated Aesop’s Fables in 1926.  

Celia, sometimes known as Molly studied with Rooke and they married in 1932.  In 1960, a few years after Rooke’s death she moved to Culworth in Oxfordshire where she continued her own work and worked occasionally as a guide in her family home Broughton Castle.  Its seems that not only was she a successful artist in her own right she was also a direct descendant to Celia Fiennes (1692-1741) the English traveller who never married and travelled around England on horseback between 1684 and 1703  “to regain my health by variety and change of aire and exercise”

She was considered then as an exceptional women traveller, long before travelling for its own sake became the norm.  Sometimes she traveled with relatives but usually it was with only the company of one or two servants.  Her travels less frequently continued until 1711 and took her throughout England.  

I would like to believe the nursery rhyme


‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,

To see a fine lady upon a white horse;

Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,

And she shall have music wherever she goes’


did refer to  the Fiennes lady from Broughton Castle but this is not proven.  

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