Queen Katherine Parr
The Hastings or Melton Constable Portrait
Oil on canvas | 980 x 670 mm
National Trust | NT 1276906
According to J. Stephan Edwards, it is in oils, and is presently on canvas. The painting was reportedly originally on wood panel, but was supposedly transferred to a canvas backing in 1893. The transfer was not easily accomplished, so that considerable restoration was required. He references Christopher Hussey, ‘Melton Constable Hall’, Country Life 64, nos. 1652 and 1653 (15 and 22 September 1928), 364–370 and 402–409.
This portrait was owned by the Astleys at Hillmorton by 1770. John Astley's first wife was Katherine Champernowne, Elizabeth I's beloved Kat Ashley.
As the step-mother and governess of Elizabeth I Tudor, the two women probably knew each other. The portrait of Katherine Parr was therefore probably a gift directly from Katherine Parr to Kat Ashley, the other mother figure in her step-daughter's life, in the same way the Glendon Hall or NPG 4451 is now thought to have been a direct gift from Queen Katherine Parr to her cousin Maud. Glendon Hall once belonged to sir Ralph Lane, who married Maud Parr, a cousin and lady-in-waiting to Katherine Parr.
The Astleys longstanding tradition that this portrait is Lady Jane Grey is probably because John Astley's second wife and the mother of his children was Margaret Lenton or Grey, Lady Jane Grey's first cousin. She was the illegitimate daughter of Lord Thomas Grey, who was executed together with his brother, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and niece, Lady Jane Grey, for having participated in Thomas Wyatt's rebellion in 1554, and the mother of Sir John Astley, whose 'children had all predeceased him, and his estates passed to his ‘cousin’ Jacob, Lord Astley, the royalist general,' the ancestor of the Astleys who owned Hillmorton in 1770. John Astley's first marriage to Kat Ashley had been childless.
Margaret Lenton or Grey was probably the original owner of the Chawton Portrait of her other cousin Lady Katherine Grey, which can be traced back to the family of the widow of one of her direct descendants.