My Home & Friends | The Works of Mary Ann Alexander

My Home & Friends | The Works of Mary Ann Alexander

A series of charming watercolours depicting life on a prosperous Essex farmstead in the Victorian era come for sale at Sworders this month.

9 March 2022

The album of evocative images showing scenes from Rollestone Farm was created by the amateur artist and poet Mary Ann Alexander (1815-1913), the daughter of an Ipswich banker. She titled it simply 'My Homes and Friends'.

Mary Ann Alexander was born in 1815 at Goldrood House, Belstead into a prominent Quaker family. Her father was Samuel Alexander, a partner in the banking business Alexander & Co., of Ipswich.

Goldrood House (now part of St Joseph’s College) remained the family home in the mid 19th century and Mary had recorded her life there in similar ways, painting a volume of drawings and poems now known as The Goldrood Book.


My Home & Friends - Mary Ann Alexander


Sworders’ album 'My Homes and Friends' similarly depicts the daily goings-on at the Rollestone Farm where the Alexanders moved in the 1850s. The 21 watercolour views, painted in Mary’s naïve but observant style, include the farmhouse, the garden with gardener and children, a farm wagon unloading in a barn; room interiors complete with the latest in fashionable furniture and china; bee skeps in a summer garden and cheesemaking in a dairy with its racks of blue and white pottery. They are accompanied by a 22-page handwritten account by Mary, including stanzas of poetry, that is dated September 1864'.

This fine example of East Anglian social history will be offered for sale in the Fine Interiors auction on March 22-23 with a guide of £800-1200.





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