Marmaduke Cradock

In 1978, Philip Jackson, an artist living in Somerton, noticed that a Marmaduke Cradock painting was for sale in London. A group was formed to raise the money to purchase the picture, and a charitable trust was set up to care for the picture and to collect other items relating to the history of Somerton. The picture is displayed in Somerton’s Parish Rooms.

Marmaduke Cradock was born in or near Somerton in about 1660. The Craddock family lived at Babcary and there is still a farm there called Craddock’s Farm. He was the oldest of a large family and was apprenticed in London to a house painter. When he had finished his apprenticeship, he worked as an artist, painting for dealers, and his pictures were popular for over doorways and mantelpieces. Most of his pictures are of peacocks and other exotic birds, which were fashionable at the time. He lived with Hannah Dale, wife of another artist, Humphrey Dale.

When he died in 1716, he left his Somerset property to his brother Oliver and money to his other brothers and sisters. He provided for Hannah Dale and her two children by him, with the proviso that Hannah’s husband was not to benefit from his bequest.

After his death, his paintings increased in value and many prints were made of them. Only six original paintings are known to exist today, five in the British Museum and one in Somerton.