'Playford - From a sketch by Mrs Airy'

This cottage at Playford, in East Anglia, was bought as a second home in 1845 by (Sir) George Biddell Airy, the seventh Astronomer Royal at Greenwich from 1835 to 1881. Playford was where Airy grew up. His uncle, Arthur Biddell, owned Luck Farm in East Anglia and Airy had spent a good deal of his childhood with both his uncle and his uncle’s circle. At Greenwich the Airys also owned a much larger home (which still exists) called the White House, on the edge of the Park, about ten minutes walk from the Observatory.

Airy's wife, Richarda, sketched this picture of the family's East Anglian holiday home, then had prints made by the well known London firm of Day & Son to distribute among her friends. The Herschels were among their closest friends. Richarda and Margaret Herschel were good friends, as were their husbands, while their children (almost equal in number and age - the Airy's had 9, the Herschels 12) spent a good deal of time together. The boys were all at school together at Clapham Grammar School while the girls were often sent to stay with one another, the Herschels to the Airys in particular. Airy was knighted in 1872. He died at the White House in 1892 and subsequently buried at Playford, although there is a monument to him in the parish church at Greenwich. The White House remained in the family until at least 1917 when Airy’s daughter, Christabel, died there. This copy of the print is inscribed 'Playford - From a sketch by Mrs Airy' by one of the Herschel family, to whom it belonged.

Object Details

ID: PAH6035
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Airy, Richarda; Day & Son
Date made: After 1845
People: Airy, George Biddell
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Herschel Collection
Measurements: Overall: 377 x 277 mm

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