KAS collection: the portraits: Sir Henry Wyatt

The KAS collection includes a number of Twysden/Twisden family portraits that are currently housed at Bradbourne House. When, in November 1937 Sir John Ramskill Twisden died leaving no heir these portraits were bequeathed mainly to the Kent Archaeological Society, with others going to the National Portrait Gallery.

When Bradbourne House was purchased, by what later became the East Malling Trust, it was decided that the KAS portraits should be displayed in the house. The National Gallery then returned their portraits so that the collection could be kept together. Today the portraits hang in the Great Hall, main hallway and staircase at Bradbourne House.

The Library has set up a project to publicise the portraits to the wider community. Library volunteer Janet Mayfield is working through to produce segments on the portraits highlighting the family members portrayed and if possible details about the artist. To begin with we look at Sir Henry Wyatt, father of Sir Thomas Wyatt (poet and ambassador), grandfather of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (rebel) and great grandfather of Anne Wyatt, wife to Roger Twysden of Royden.

Sir Henry Wyatt


Born c.1460/70 – died 1537, Sir Henry Wyatt was a prominent supporter of Henry Vll, with many achievements to his name.  He acquired Allington Castle at Maidstone in 1492, and undertook substantial alterations there, including the construction of a long gallery. He was Henry VIII’s Treasurer of the Chamber in 1524, retiring early in 1528. A friend and supporter of Thomas Cromwell, he was able to rely on his help in interceding for his son, Sir Thomas the Elder  when under suspicion for his sympathy with the Boleyn family.

The original portrait of Sir Henry by Hans Holbein now hangs in the Louvre, and is in oils on oak. Dendrochronological analysis suggests the portrait may have been painted close to the time of his death in1537. In the portrait Sir Henry is holding a  large, inscribed cross, and his will contains the request that in the Catholic tradition, the Chantry he founded in 1524 at Milton, next Gravesend  should  be maintained. Allington Castle, the home of his retirement, remained in the possession of his family until forfeited by his grandson, Sir Thomas the Younger, in 1554.

The copy at Bradbourne is attributed to Herbert Luther Smith (1809-1870). It features the Wiat coat of arms in the top left corner; this is absent in the original.

(Written by Janet Mayfield; Photo by Penny Greeves.)


East Malling Trust, 2013. The Twisdens of Bradbourne House. East Malling.

Foister, S. 2006. Holbein in England. London.

Hatton, R and Hatton, C. 1945. Notes on the family of Twysden and Twisden. In: Archaeologia Cantiana, vol. LVIII, pp. 43-67.

Myrone, J. 2014. Boydell and the Engravers. In: Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford.

Newman, J. and Pevsner, N. 1988. West Kent and the Weald: the buildings of England. London.