by Julie Bunting
Henry Nadauld (1653 - 1723)
At one time, many years ago, a headstone stood in the old Presbyterian Chapel at Ashford in the Water, inscribed ‘Here lieth the body of Henry Nadauld, carver, who departed this life, July 3rd, 1723, age 70 years’. Nadauld was a highly regarded sculptor and whilst the fate of the headstone is unknown, details of his life were passed down by one of his descendants, John Brushfield of Bath. The Brushfield and Nadauld families were united by marriage in the 18th century.
According to family tradition, Henry Nadauld was a Protestant lawyer in La Rochelle, France, from where he was forced to flee during the Huguenot persecutions of the mid-1680s. It is said that he abandoned all his considerable possessions apart from a few easily hidden valuables, and in the clothing of a fisherman embarked with his infant son, Pierre, on a dangerous and difficult voyage to England by fishing boat.
Exiled in a strange land, Nadauld, an accomplished carver, turned to this hobby to make a living. Such was his skill that in 1698 he was paid £50 for plastering work in the Queen’s Closet at Hampton Court. Within two years and working alongside a number of French craftsmen employed by the 1st Duke of Devonshire, he undertook detailed work at Chatsworth. In addition to a chimney piece for the gallery, ‘Monsieur Nadauld executed the ornaments of the great frieze for the front; he was paid in 1703, £114 for the ornaments of the great frieze, friezes over the door, cyphers, coronets, etc. He carved also twenty-two heads for the galleries in the inner courts, for which, and for six vases, he was paid £107.10s. In 1704 he was paid £112.16s. for similar work.’
This latter may have included two figures modelled for niches carved by Samuel Watson of Heanor in the west front staircase and still in situ. A wealth of other Nadauld statuary and sculptures can be seen inside the house, gardens and cascade house, their designs mostly inspired by myth and allegory including the Great Fountain, flanked by two river gods. Westminster Abbey In the words of Tessa Murdock, writing in Country Life in October 1988, Nadauld excelled himself in ‘an exquisite plaster relief of putti on horseback and acanthus foliage on the coving of the west sub-vestibule at Chatsworth.’ The same writer noted that surviving working drawings by Nadauld at Chatsworth indicated that he developed his own designs rather than being subject to the supervision of an architect in charge. One drawing resembles the great frieze on the south front at Castle Howard, where Nadauld worked prolifically between 1705 and 1710. Just prior to this period he undertook a commission for an impressive mural monument to Lady Eland, a woman of Huguenot descent, for the Chapel of St John in Westminster Abbey.
The Great Fountain was admired for nearly 150 years as the highest in the country, reaching 28 metres and supplied from what is known as Morton’s Pond. The Emperor Fountain, engineered by Joseph Paxton, replaced the Great Fountain as the main spectacle in the Canal Pond in 1844.
Although Nadauld maintained a London yard, he made his home at Ashford in the Water, where he was to acquire considerable property. His surgeon son, having anglicised his name from Pierre to Peter, married Margaret Whitby of Ashford. Many of Henry Nadauld’s descendants and their spouses are buried in Ashford churchyard including his son, daughter-in-law and three of their children – one of whom was the Reverend Thomas Nadauld, incumbent of Longstone and later of Ashford; also Thomas’s wife and three children – Richard, Margaret and Ann. It was Ann who in 1795 married George Brushfield; their son, Thomas, became a JP and keen chronicler of Ashford history.
Such was the respect held for Henry Nadauld that his surname has been passed down to his descendants as a Christian name into the present day.