Bateman Family Collection

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This outstanding collection of pictures was once owned by the Bateman family of Middleton Hall, by Youlgrave in Derbyshire. The Bateman family had ample means to amass a collection of the highest quality, and the family were scholarly and learned, with a special interest in history. Some of the works in this collection are inscribed “TB” verso, presumed to be Thomas Bateman Jnr (1821-1861), who was an English antiquary and barrow-digger. The collection includes exceptional gems, such as 17th-century Dutch watercolours and drawings by Followers of Dutch Golden Age artists Adriaen Van der Velde and Dirk Stoop. There are also paintings related to archaeological excavation and barrow-digging.

Middleton Hall was built by Roger Bateman in 1626; by 1820 it came into the possession of Thomas Bateman Snr (1760-1847), a staunch nonconformist and wealthy cotton magnate. Thomas had a son, William (1787-1835), and grandson Thomas Bateman Jnr (1821-1861), who also lived at Middleton Hall. Thomas Snr was an influential and learned figure, who became High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1823, and who provided a fine and well stocked library at Middleton Hall. William developed an interest in history and archaeology, and began digging barrows (burial mounds) around the Middleton Hall estate, being elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. William, however, died prematurely, leaving Thomas Jnr in the care of Thomas Snr.

Thomas Bateman Jnr inherited his father’s interest in barrow-digging and was elected local secretary of the British Archaeological Association in 1844. His genuine fascination with ancient sites and detailed record-making meant that he was one of Britain’s first true archaeologists. He was an early advocate of classification systems of the Stone, Bronze and Iron ages. The pioneering discoveries he made earned him a high reputation in academic circles. Thomas Bateman built up a remarkable collection of important archaeological finds, which is now in part in the permanent collection of Museums Sheffield.