Mander portraits

Some Mander family portraits

The family portraits at Owlpen form a sequence over seven generations which suggest a family history. The earlier portraits are mostly by minor provincial artists, whose chief interest is in the lives of the sitters. They lead on to high Victorian swagger by the society artists of the day.


First Generation

Benjamin Mander

Benjamin Mander (1752-1819)

Benjamin was the son of Thomas, who moved to Wolverhampton from Lapworth shortly after his marriage to Elizabeth Clemson in 1742. Pioneer industrialist and philanthropist of Wolverhampton. Among many ventures, he was co-founder in 1773 -- with his brother, the chemist, John Mander -- of businesses in chemicals, japanning and tin-plate working, and later varnish, paint and printing inks. The Mander brands established by him continue today. He was one of four Manders to be appointed among the first town commissioners of Georgian Wolverhampton in 1777.

He also founded the Wolverhampton Union Flour and Bread Co., a charitable venture to dole cheap bread to the poor during the social distress in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. He became a popular hero when he won a celebrated trial in 1814 at the Stafford Assizes, accused by the bakers of illegal combination.

Second Generation

Charles Mander

Charles Mander I (1780-1853)

He followed as a japanner in his father, Benjamin’s, firm in Wolverhampton, soon starting a varnish works in 1803, one of whose early customers was Queen Charlotte. He eventually sold the japanning business in 1840.

Charles ‘Boots’ Mander was, like many early industrialists, a progressive social reformer, whose exertions led to at least two acts of Parliament. In 1817 he posted to London to petition the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, to grant a Reprieve against the sentence of death passed on two innocent soldiers accused of stealing just 1s.1d., then a capital offence. This led in the next session of Parliament to the repeal of the Blood Money Act. Under this law, anyone who succeeded in gaining a conviction for felony was entitled to £40 as blood money, ‘a terrible premium by which many judicial murders were committed and one of the worst Acts that had ever disgraced the Statute Book’. The incident formed the inspiration of the novel, Now and Then (1847), by the Methodist writer and jurist, Samuel Warren.

He was also a defender of religious freedoms. He pursued a 22-year Chancery law suit, which he financed personally and eventually won. It became a test case for the Trinitarians, one of several at the time which challenged in the courts the tenure of nonconformist chapels and endowments. Lord Chancellor Eldon’s judgement became a celebrated ruling in charity law, leading eventually to the Dissenters’ Chapels Act of 1844.

Many of his letters were published in the family history in 1955.

Jemima Mander

Jemima Mander (1791-1834)

She was born Jemima Small, daughter of a linen draper in Boston, Lincs. She married Charles Mander in 1812. Gerald Mander relates:

There was some romance in the meeting with her husband. He was travelling the eastern counties in 1809 and lost his way, which in the general absence of sign posts and A.A. men was confusing. The rider wisely left matters to his mount, and the old mare instinctively led him to Boston, where Mrs Charles Mander that was to be, dwelt, the eldest of a family of orphans, and aged 18. But her uncle and guardian made her wait till 21.

Having had ten children, she died aged 42 from typhus contracted while helping the poor in the Wolverhampton slums. Charles Mander styles her "my old rib". He later married her younger sister, Eliza, described by an employee as ‘a great economist [i.e., ‘housewife’] and a real Christian’.

This portrait of Jemima shows her ‘in red shawl and bauble’.

Third Generation

Charles Benjamin Mander

Charles Benjamin Mander (1819-1878)

He established the partnership of Mander Brothers, varnish manufacturers, with his brother, Samuel (head of the Wightwick Manor cadet line), in 1845. A paint and colour works was set up in 1864 which became ‘the Number One producer of paint and varnish in the British Empire and a household word’. He purchased The Mount at Tettenhall Wood, Staffordshire, in 1862.

With a keen interest in the arts, he founded largely on his own initiative ‘the first purpose-built institution for art education in Britain’ in 1852-4. He travelled widely in Italy, was ‘a first-rate artist’ several of whose pencil sketches are about the manor house, and had a hobby of improving the Old Masters in his collection ‘to their great gain’.

In public life, he was a magistrate and town commissioner, then one of the first councillors, in Wolverhampton, where he promoted the free library and worthy temperance schemes to provide drinking-water fountains for the people of the town.

He married Sophia Weaver, by whom he had eight children.

Sophia Mander

Sophia Mander (1827-69)

Wife of Charles Benjamin Mander. They had a large Victorian family of eight children. She died aged 42 six months after the birth of her youngest son, Jack (later chief constable of Norfolk).

She was the daughter of John Weaver MRCS of Chester (portrait at Owlpen).

Fourth Generation

Charles Tertius Mander


Alderman Sir Charles Tertius Mander, first baronet (1852-1929)

‘CTM’ was first chairman and ‘governing director’ of Mander Brothers Ltd. in 1924. He served uniquely at the time four times as mayor of Wolverhampton (1892-6). He was made an honorary freeman of the borough, was a magistrate, colonel of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, and active in numerous Midland charities.

He was granted a baronetcy for his public services -- and implicitly those of the family -- in the Coronation honours of George V, who also awarded the firm his royal warrant. The firm had supplied varnishes to Queen Charlotte a century before.

He commissioned the architect, Edward Ould, to alter the family house at The Mount in 1893, adding a fine library and music room in a grand English Renaissance style in 1909.

The portrait, presented by ‘his fellow townsmen and other friends’, is one of two painted by the Hon. John Collier (1850-1934), a noted Edwardian society artist in the swagger tradition. He is painted aged 44, wearing levée order with sabretache in hussar style, holding the newly-introduced busby.

Mary Mander

Mary Mander (1858-1951)

Full length by Alfred Jonniaux (1927)

Lady Mary le Mesurier Mander was Canadian, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was the daughter of Henry Paint, a shipowner from Guernsey and an MP in the early Dominion Parliament. Her sister Flora (below) married Theodore Mander, who built Wightwick Manor, near her house at The Mount.

She is shown here in scarlet dress and purple fur cape. She was a great traveller, art collector and hostess. She presided over The Mount, a well-run country house in the Victorian/ Edwardian heyday, known for its French cooking and collections visited by many famous figures, including Lloyd George (who announced the 1918 ‘coupon’ General Election as her guest), Queen Mary, and The Princess Royal. It is now a hotel with 60 bedrooms.

She lived on in slowly-fading splendour until she died aged 92 in 1951, having had three children: Charles Arthur, Gerald and Daisy.

Sophia Mander

Sophia Mander (1855-1937) as Ophelia

She was a younger sister of Charles Tertius. Here she is painted by the Norwegian historical painter Nicolai Arbo on a family visit to Paris in 1872. Arbo wrote, delivering the painting: ‘It was my idea in my picture to represent Ophelia in the scene, where she—supposing Hamlet to be mad—exclaims: O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!’

Sophia married the antiquarian, Canon Henry Paine Stokes, hon. fellow and historian of Corpus Christi College (CTM's college) and ‘arguably the second best local historian Cambridge has had in the last hundred years’. The diaries of their son, Louis Mander Stokes, with an account of Rugby and events leading up to his early death in the trenches of the Somme, were published in 1995.

Fifth Generation

Major Sir Charles Arthur Mander


Major Sir Charles Arthur Mander, second baronet (1884-1951)

Charles IV Arthur trained with branches of the Mander firm in Berlin, Paris, Milan and Norway—‘in other words, by taking a holiday’.

Apart from serving as managing director of Mander Brothers, he devoted his energies to public life and charitable affairs, serving at one point on over 67 committees and organizations, involved with every aspect of national and Midland life. He was president of Rotary International for Britain and Ireland and Vice-Chairman of the National Savings Committee. He was twice mayor of Wolverhampton, and like his father an honorary freeman of the city.

He appeared regularly on the early radio, and was a public speaker of authority and charm on both sides of the Atlantic. He was made an honourary chief, "Red Crow", of the Blackfoot tribe in Montana, when he dedicated the Waterton - Glacier National Park to world peace.

The portrait (1947) is by Arthur Pan, who famously painted Sir Winston Churchill.

Charles Arthur Mander

Charles Arthur Mander

Full length, in hunting clothes, by Alfred Jonniaux

In early life he was a keen sportsman. He shot (rifle) for Eton, Cambridge University and for England, when he was just 22. But ‘I prefer a good day’s hunting to a good day’s shooting’, he said. He was a major in the Staffordshire Yeomanry in the First World War in Egypt and Palestine. He fought in the three battles of Gaza (where he was wounded), and in the decisive aftermath of Meggido, the last great cavalry victory, riding into Damascus with General Allenby.

A man of artistic talent, he wrote children’s novels and travel diaries (of his ocean voyages, hunting expeditions, etc.); he sketched and sang. He played the piano with Sir Malcolm Sargent who stayed often at his home, Kilsall Hall, signing the visitors’ book with musical quotations.

In private life he was squire of Kilsall, near Tong. His father was a founder of the Wolverhampton Wanderers football club, of which he was also President, often attending matches muffled in a greatcoat worn over his hunting clothes. He married Monica Neame, of London and Kent, and had three children. He died suddenly aged 66, following a committee meeting of the Albrighton hunt.

Gerald Poynton Mander

Gerald Poynton Mander (1885–1951)

Gerald Mander was a director of Mander Brothers, but also a Midland historian and antiquarian, a collector of early books and a connoisseur who donated a number of pictures, old and new, to local museums, as well as a fine collection of Midland enamels.

He was a private scholar who wrote the standard histories of Wolverhampton and of the Grammar School (of which he was chairman of the Governors for many years), edited various antiquarian journals, including The Wolverhampton Antiquary, his own pet project, and the journals of the Staffordshire county archaeological societies, when dry scholarship was always relieved by his peculiar mordant wit. He excavated a number of Roman sites in north Staffordshire.

He married Nancy Hargeaves. His son Philip was the last family chairman of Mander Brothers.

The portrait is by George Phoenix (1863–1935), who also painted his father, CTM.

Daisy St Claire Mander

Daisy St Claire Mander (1887–1968)

Daisy Mander was the spinster younger sister of Charles Arthur and Gerald. She was a cultivated and independent spinster who travelled, hunted, and collected indefatigably. She was one of the first women to sit on the county council, was a magistrate, and was county commissioner of the Girl Guides.

She was adopted as something of a mascot by the Wolverhampton Wanderers football team. In 1955 she accompanied 'Wolves' aged 67 to Moscow to support them against Spartak. It was one of the first organised visits to Russia after the Cold War, which she had not visited since the days of Czar Nicholas II in 1905.

Fifth Generation

Sir Charles Marcus Mander

Sir Charles Marcus Mander, third baronet (1921-2006) as high sheriff of Staffordshire in 1962

He fought in the Coldstream Guards in the second world war, where he was wounded following the Salerno landings in Italy in 1943.

He was one of the last family directors of Mander Brothers, and was chairman of a number of property companies. He promoted the development of the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton and of housing on his Perton estate near the Mount, which had been requisitioned as an airfield during the War. It now houses a township of 11,500 people.

Maria Dolores Mander

Maria Dolores Mander

Maria Dolores Mander was born in Hamburg of English, German and Mexican descent. She married Charles Marcus Mander in 1945, and they had three children: Penelope, Nicholas and Francis.

The portrait is by Leonardo Pizzanelli (1922–1984), of Florence.

Sixth Generation


Charles Nicholas Mander

Sir Charles Nicholas Mander

Owner of Owlpen, painted as a child by Leonardo Pizzanelli of Florence in 1955.

He is the fourth Mander baronet and the twenty-eighth recorded lord of the manor of Owlpen.

Seventh Generation

Sarra Earl

Sarra Earl

Sarra is the eldest of the five children of Nicholas and Karin Mander. She married Stephen Earl in 2002. The portrait is by Sergei Pavlenko, born in Russia. He has since painted H.M. the Queen.


Mander family at Owlpen by Johno Verity


Group of the Mander family at Owlpen by Johno Verity, Christmas 2000

Hugo, Sarra, Fabian, Nicholas, Benedict, Karin, Marcus

The Manders of Wightwick

Theodore Mander

Theodore Mander (1853–1900)

Theodore Mander, first cousin of CTM, was active in public service as a Liberal politician who was mayor of Wolverhampton at the time of his early death. He was a progressive manufacturer and a partner with CTM in Mander Brothers.

He is remembered today as a man of cultivated taste and sympathies, who built Wightwick Manor in two phases in 1888 and 1893, and formed the nucleus of the collections.

His journals and notebooks were edited and published as A Very Private Heritage in 1996.

Flora Mander

Flora Mander (1857–1905)

Flora was sister of Mary Le Mesurier (above), a Canadian from Halifax in Nova Scotia. She married Theodore there in 1879. But she died aged 48, leaving four children: Geoffrey, Lionel ('Miles'), Alan and Marjorie.

The portrait is by Frederick Chester, dated 1881.

Sir Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander (1882–1962)

Geoffrey Mander, eldest son of Theodore and Flora, was Liberal MP for Wolverhampton East from 1929 and the Liberal expert on foreign relations between the wars. He was an advocate of the League of Nations and one of the first to speak out agains the rise of the Dictators in the Thirties. He was remembered for his determined use of parliamentary questions in opposition.

He married the biographer Rosalie née Grylls, and together they greatly extended the collections at Wightwick Manor, becaming early authorities on William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

He presented Wightwick Manor with its outstanding collections to the National Trust in 1937, one of the first country houses to be given to the Trust.

Miles Mander

Miles Mander (1888–1946)

Lionel, known as 'Miles', Mander broke away from the mould of public service and business, and established himself as a versatile artist. He was an early aviator, who had spent his 20s in New Zealand farming sheep, and became a novelist, playwright, and film actor and director.

He achieved success with The First Born which he directed and acted in, and which was based on his own novel and play. He is better remembered for his character portrayals of oily types, many of them upper-crust cads - such as Cardinal Richelieu in Three Musketeers, The (1939). In his Hollywood debut, he had portrayed King Louis XIII in the 1935 version of that same Dumas classic. Other films credits included Wuthering Heights with Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon.

Princess Sudhira Mander

Princess Sudhira Mander (1894–1968)

Miles Mander and his younger brother Alan both married daughters of the Maharajah Nripendra Bahadur, a model ruler of the princely state of Cooch Behar in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal. Their mother, Siniti Devi, writes in her autobiography of her friendship with Queen Victoria and of her husband's dynasty, "founded by the love of a god and a maiden".

Sudhira was the baby of the family, dying within a few days of her husband in London in 1968.