A TEMPORARY exhibition opens tomorrow celebrating the 200th wedding anniversary of the Countess of Tyrconnel.

She was Sarah Crowe, who was just 18 when, on October 1, 1817, she married John Delaval Carpenter, the 4th Earl of Tyrconnel.

She was quite a catch, because she was the heiress to Kiplin Hall, near Scorton: she was due to inherit the grand house, which dates back to 1625, and its 4,500 acre estate.

For the earl, who was eight years older, she really was quite a catch. His father was a Berwick MP and despite inheriting the Irish title, it didn’t come with any property.

That situation changed when a year after the marriage, Sarah’s father died, and Kiplin became hers.

The exhibition will include excerpts from the earl’s scribbly diary which throw a fascinating light on the marriage. He wrote in his own form of shorthand, so “Lady T X” means that Lady Tyrconnel was cross.

Understandably so, on occasion. He lavished large amounts of money on his yacht and his new carriage, which must have maddened her, and he was also in the habit of dancing with young girls into the early hours of the morning at nearby Hornby Castle. He once gave a very expensive bracelet to one of his young dancing partners, which must have made poor Sarah very X indeed.

There were happier times. They enlarged the house but building on a Gothic-style drawing room, and the earl experimented with gas lighting while the countess improved the gardens.

But there was a sadness at their core: no children came along.

On February 19, 1847, at the age of 47, Sarah, who didn’t know she was pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl. In his diary, the earl records his rollercoaster emotions as after only a few hours the baby – Lady Elizabeth – is snatched from him.

Sarah survived, and they erected a memorial plaque to the newborn in the church at Bolton-on-Swale. It says:

“When the archangel’s trump shall blow

And souls and bodies join

Millions shall wish their lives below

Had been as short as thine.”

The earl died at Kiplin in 1853, and Sarah lived out her days there until her death in 1868.

The D&S reported: “The body of this deceased lady was on Wednesday removed by train from the Cowton Station of the North-Eastern Railway to King’s Cross, for Winchester, where she was buried by the side of the late earl, her husband. At the time of the funeral cortege – which was very simple – leaving Kiplin, the tenantry and the poor people of the surrounding neighbourhood were present in large numbers, to do homage to the memory of the deceased lady, who was greatly loved in the locality.” The body left “by the 1.26 uptrain”.

It left Kiplin without an obvious heir, but Sarah and John had settled the estate on his first cousin twice removed: Captain Walter Cecil Talbot. But only on condition that he changed his surname to Carpenter, agreed to marry a Protestant, and submitted himself every seven years to an examination of his faith by a team of Anglican clergy.

With the prospect of inheriting the estate of the founder of Maryland dangling before him, he agreed to all three conditions.

The 200th Wedding Anniversary exhibition runs from tomorrow until Wednesday at Kiplin Hall (off the B6271 between Scorton and Northallerton) between 11am and 5pm. Those who visit on Sunday, will get a free piece of wedding cake. Admission to the hall is £9.50 for an adult and £4.80 for a child.