Grosvenor Museum buys historic portrait of Chester's most famous bishop

  • 29 October 2008

Chester's Grosvenor Museum has purchased the only known portrait of the city's most famous bishop. Painted by an unknown artist in 1606, it depicts George Lloyd, the builder of Bishop Lloyd's Palace. The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, supported the acquisition with a grant of £2,500 towards the total cost of £8000. Further support came from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Grosvenor Museum Society and Chester Civic Trust.

George Lloyd was born in 1560/1 in Denbighshire. He was educated at the King’s School, Chester and at Jesus College and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he became a doctor of divinity. In 1594 Lloyd was elected to the divinity lectureship in Chester cathedral, and three years later became rector of Heswall, Cheshire. He became bishop of Sodor and Man in 1599, and then bishop of Chester in 1604. Attentive to his administrative duties and moderate with both Puritans and Roman Catholics, he was a skilful preacher, admired by Henry, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. Lloyd died in 1615 and was buried in Chester cathedral. He became the great-grandfather of Elihu Yale, after whom Yale University in the USA was named.

Peter Boughton, the museum’s Keeper of Art, said: “George Lloyd is the bishop of Chester best known to both residents and visitors, since he built Bishop Lloyd’s Palace in Watergate Street. This is one of Britain’s most decorative timber-framed buildings, and now houses the headquarters of Chester Civic Trust.”

The Art Fund’s Director, David Barrie, said: “The Art Fund was delighted to help the Grosvenor museum in its recent acquisition of Portrait of George Lloyd, Bishop of Chester. This unique portrait will accompany other depictions of Cheshire personalities which are a particular feature of the museum’s impressive collection that spans more than four centuries. The work is currently displayed in the museum’s Stuart Dining Room, where it will be seen by some 90,000 visitors every year.”

Painted in oil on oak panel in 1606, shortly after he became bishop of Chester, this previously unpublished picture is the only known portrait of George Lloyd and is therefore a unique historical document. Identified by the shield of arms, the sitter is portrayed in the standard attire of an Anglican bishop of the very early 17th century. He wears a square cap over an under-cap, and a fashionable ruff. Over a black cassock he wears the rochet (a type of white linen surplice worn by bishops), a chimere (a sleeveless gown worn by bishops) and a black tippet (a preacher’s stole).

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Notes to Editors
The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit

The Grosvenor Museum is Chester’s flagship cultural venue, with collections of national and international importance covering the archaeology, art, social and natural history of the city and the surrounding area. It provides lifelong learning through wide-ranging programmes of permanent displays, temporary exhibitions and events, while developing the collections through acquisition, conservation and research.

Further information
Please contact Peter Boughton, Keeper of Art and Creative Development at the Grosvenor Museum on telephone 01244 402024 and e-mail

For more information about The Art Fund, and its grants to the Grosvenor Museum, please contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit