Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, 2nd Duke of Lennox and Duke of Aubigny of the French nobility (1701–1750).
Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond was the only son of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond (1672-1723) and his wife, Anne (d.1722), widow of Henry, 2nd Baron Belasyse of Worlaby and daughter of Francis, Lord Brudenell. He was born at Goodwood House, the ancestral home of the Lennox family, and inherited the title of Duke of Richmond upon the death of his father, in 1723.
His mother was described as a kind and loving lady, his father, although affectionate, was a habitual gambler and drinker who, after an early death left the young Charles under huge financial pressure. This may not have come as a surprise to Charles, as an 18-year-old he was forced to marry Sarah Cadogan (1706-1751), the daughter of the Earl of Cadogan, to settle his father’s gambling debt of £5000. Sarah was only 13 years old when she married and her dowry was used to pay part of the debt. On seeing his bride-to-be for the first time, young Charles was alleged to have said, ‘Oh no, they’re not going to marry to me to that dowdy’. Soon after the wedding, the new husband embarked on a 3-year grand tour, occasionally exchanging letters with Sarah. On his return, Charles spent the first night at the theatre, rather than going home to his new wife. While there, his attention was captured by a beautiful young woman, surrounded by admirers. After enquiring the identity of the lady, he discovered that she was none other than his wife, Sarah!
The couple soon settled down to married life and were devoted to each other. They had 12 children, 7 of which survived to adulthood, including, Georgiana Carolina Lennox (1723 – 1774), Emilia Mary Lennox (1731 – 1814), Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond (1735 – 1806), George Lennox (1737 – 1805), Castletown’s Louisa Augusta Lennox (1743 – 1821), Sarah Lennox (1745 – 1826), Cecelia Lennox (1750 – 1769).
Charles was both a military man and statesman. He achieved the position of aide-de-camp to both George I and George II, rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the British Army and served under George II, at the Battle of Dettingen. Furthermore, he fought alongside the Duke of Cumberland against the Jacobite rebellion, in 1745. He was a successful Whig politician and a loyal supporter of the monarchy. Under the reign of George I, he was chosen as the Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of Bath. By the end of his life, he had served as Lord Constable of England, Lord of the Bedchamber, Master of the Horse, Lord justice of the Kingdom, Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards and a member of the privy council, at the court of George II. He acted as intermediary between the King and his son, the Prince of Wales, during a disagreement, in 1737. In his own area of Chichester, Charles had sat as MP, mayor and high steward and like his father became Grand Master of the Freemasons of the Grand Lodge, of 1724.
In 1748, Charles played an important role in bringing about the trial and conviction of the then, notorious Hawkhurst Gang, part of a smuggling ring who were involved in the murder of a custom officer and witness. Charles may have even written a book on the subject, published anonymously later that year.
Like all young men of the nobility, Charles loved to hunt and was one of the first to become, Master of the Hunt, of the prodigious Charlton Hunt, in Chichester. He purchased the Charlton hounds and under his guidance, Charlton became the most exclusive hunting club in England. Hunting was an expensive hobby in the 18th century, costing over a £1000 a year. Between the years of 1739 and 1746, Charles reckoned to have spent £7180, excluding the purchase of horses. In 1730, so as not to be late for a meet, he had a hunting lodge built in Charlton, where he and the duchess could spend the night before the next organised hunt. The lodge was financed by his winnings of £150 from racing at Tunbridge Wells and still stands today. Likewise, his passion for cricket, inherited from his father, was further advanced by his patronage. Charles captained his own cricket team and in 1727, he and another captain wrote the earliest known rules of the game. Unfortunately, a broken leg, in 1733, put an end to his playing days, but he remained a patron of a club in the nearby village of Slindon. He continued to hunt right up till his death in 1750.
In the meantime, the Lennox family was expanding and the house at Goodwood was still the small Jacobean residence that Charles had inherited from his father. Moreover, the Grand Tour had exposed Charles to the wonderful world of classical architecture and so he employed architect, Colen Campbell, to design a new house in the Palladian style, fashionable at the time. For financial reasons, this work was never carried out, instead Campbell’s assistant Roger Morris redesigned the existing house and added a new kitchen block and long hall. In the 1740s, Matthew Brettingham attached a new south wing to the house and constructed a pediment to the front of the building. Unfortunately, Charles did not live to see the later changes completed and it was the next duke that continued the transformation of the house, that we see today. However, the contributions Charles made to the park and private grounds, most notably the buildings, still remain.
On the highest point of the estate the duke had an attractive Venetian style building constructed, known as ‘Carne’s Seat’, named after a dedicated servant of his grandmother, Louise de Kéroualle, mistress of Charles II. Carne’s wooden home had previously occupied the site. The building was used as a summer house and is beautifully painted with a carved marble chimney piece. Under the portico at the entrance of the banqueting suite is a design of the formation of planets that were aligned on the day of the Duke’s birth. The materials for the structure is said to have come from the tower of Hove church in Brighton. Nearby, is the exquisite shell cottage, decorated by the duchess and her daughters, using shells from Jamaica and Barbados. The grotto is divided into various compartments of vases and cornucopias of flowers. The floor is decorated with horse teeth and black and white marble.
Charles’ love of natural history and wildlife extended to a menagerie of exotic animals, including a lioness, tiger, bears, ostriches, monkeys, wolves and a collection of rare birds. Sadly, some animals never reached the estate or died soon after their arrival. One such casualty, a lioness, is commemorated in a statue at the top of the garden. At its height, the duke was spending £36 a day on beef and £39 a day for horse flesh to feed the larger beasts. To provide them with exercise, a series of tunnels were added to the ruins of an abbey, in which the animals could roam. Metal grilles were inserted along the tunnels for visiting spectators. The duke was dedicated to the upkeep of his collection and Irish Physician, Sir Hans Sloane, was regularly consulted on how to care and maintain the health of the animals. What’s more, Charles’ contribution and study of medicine, science and antiquity was widely regarded. He collected information on local earthquakes and the Chichester smallpox epidemic. He supported the use of inoculations in Sussex and studied the work of Abraham Trembley’s experiments on the hydra. For this work and more, he was awarded the following appointments;
1728 – Awarded a doctorate in law, at the University of Cambridge
1728 – Elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
1724 – Elected a fellow of the Royal Society
1728 – Invited to attend a meeting of the Académie Royale des Sciences, in Paris
1736 – Elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
1741 – President of the London Hospital
1750 – Elected president of the Society of Antiquaries
The Grand Tour introduced Charles to more than just architecture, it awoken in him a fondness for opera and art and he was elected governor of the Royal Academy of Music, in 1725. He was friends with playwright and poet, Colley Cibber and one of the first patrons of Italian painter, Canaletto and English artist, John Wootton.
In 1750, at the age of 49, Charles died of cancer and was buried in the family vault at Chichester Cathedral. One of his closest friends, Lord Hervey, said of him, ‘There never lived a man of a more amiable composition; he was kindly, benevolent, generous, honourable, and thoroughly noble in his way of acting, talking, and thinking; he had constant spirits, was very entertaining, and had a great deal of knowledge’.
‘A Twist of Fate’, 2019 https://www.goodwood.com/goodwood-estate/estate-news/a-twist-of-fate/
Kent, John. Records and reminiscences of Goodwood and the Dukes of Richmond. S. Low, Marston & Company, Limited, London, 1896. https://archive.org/details/gri_33125000941258/page/n27/mode/2up?q=first+duke+of+richmond
Masters, B. The dukes: the origins, ennoblement, and history of 26 families. Blond and Briggs, London. 1980. https://archive.org/details/dukesorigins00mast/page/124/mode/2up?q=richmond
McCann, J. Timothy. “Lennox, Charles, Second Duke of Richmond, Second Duke of Lennox and the Duke of Aubigny in the French nobility.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23rd September, 2004. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-16450?rskey=ZLSGOc&result=9
Saunders, P. ‘Changing Times | A history of Goodwood estate over the centuries’, 15th September, 2017. https://www.chichesterpost.co.uk/2017/09/changing-times-history-goodwood-estate-centuries/
Still, L. ‘Changing Times | A patronage of cricket and keeper of animals’, 18th March, 2018’ https://www.chichesterpost.co.uk/2018/03/changing-times-patronage-cricket-keeper-animals/
‘The Renaissance Duke’, 2017 https://www.goodwood.com/globalassets/venues/goodwood-house/summer-exhibition-2017.pdf