Objects | Society


Martha Washington’s fan, 18th century

Washington Old Hall, National Trust, Tyne and Wear

Social Reform

1600 – 1799

This feather fan with its carved ivory handle was given to Martha Washington (wife of George Washington, first President of the USA) by Lafayette, George Washington’s trusted general.

The fan, an example of creative oriental art in its own right, is a direct link to George Washington, who descended from the Washington family in the North East. George was the great x16 grandson of William de Wessyngton (Washington), who had taken over the manorial estate of Washington by 1283.

The object was given to Washington Old Hall in recognition of the venue being saved by local people and supporters from both sides of the Atlantic, as a place of historic interest, with a vital American connection.

Through innovation and creativity in galvanising support for a local venue with global connections, the mid-20th century Preservation Committee, lead by local schoolmaster Frederick Hill, saved the Hall and this vital echo of the past for future generations.

By unknown maker, probably Chinese, 18th century.

On display at Washington Old Hall, National Trust

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