Louisa, Lady Waterford commissioned the construction of Ford village school in 1860. Devoutly religious and an artist of some repute, she painted life-size watercolours of Bible scenes to cover the walls, spending 21 years on her “great experiment”. In her studio in Ford Castle, using staff and villagers as models, she painted on large paper panels that were then hung in the village school. The school closed in 1957, but this unique building, the only such painted schoolroom in the UK, and its remarkable Pre-Raphaelite paintings are carefully preserved. Lady Waterford’s sketchbooks and correspondence are also on display. This former village school, now called Lady Waterford Hall in honour of this great lady, lies in the heart of Ford village on Ford & Etal Estates.
As well as the paintings, here you can also admire the original visitors’ book, which reveals that people from all over the world came to admire the murals – from the Queen of the Netherlands to the famous Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman-Hunt.
Just outside Lady Waterford Hall is a memorial to Henry Beresford, 3rd Marquis of Waterford, Lady Waterford’s husband who died tragically in a riding accident in 1864. The memorial, which comprises a tall granite pillar topped by a statue of the Archangel Michael, was created by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the celebrated designer of the Albert Memorial in London’s Hyde Park.
For further information visit: www.ford-and-etal.co.uk/attractions/lady-waterford-hal