The Sargent painting reproduced opposite suggests the wealth and comfort that these three sisters, Mary, Madeline and Pamela, were born to. Their father, Percy Wyndham, was the younger son of Lord Leconfield of Petworth, Sussex. He was his father’s favourite, and was left by him as much of the immense Wyndham riches as was possible. With his inheritance Percy bought a 4,000-acre estate in Wiltshire, romantically named Clouds, where he built a vast country house, designed by Philip Webb.
Pamela, the youngest sister (and my great-grandmother), is seated on the sofa, flanked by her two siblings. She was considered the most beautiful of the three, and inevitably, perhaps, she was also spoiled and vain: when being photographed she never let her finger touch her cheek for fear of leaving a mark.