A PORTRAIT of the actress Jane Baxter, painted in the 1930s, is the last chronologically in the English Rose exhibition at the Bowes Museum and is on public show for the first time.

It normally hangs in the dining room at Crathorne House, in North Yorkshire, a permanent reminder to her grandchildren of a fun-filled Granny who was also celebrated for appearances on stage and in film and television.

“I adored her. She was wonderful. I always remember her saying when she was about 85 that she still felt 16,” said grand-daughter Katharine Dugdale, who is on the board of trustees for the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, which she says has exciting prospects under its new chief executive.

In this respect, she is following in the footsteps of her late mother, Sylvia, who devoted the last years of her life to the theatre’s restoration.

Katharine, 35, who was a singer for eight years in a rock band called The Fuse, is pictured at the exhibition beside the portrait of her grandmother by Wilfrid de Glehn.

“As children we were taken by my mother to visit her at Christmas and other times at her home in Wimbledon and would always go to a show. She instilled in us a love of the arts and theatre,” said Katharine, who also loves acting and for a time contemplated that as a career.

“She was full of fun and laughter, mostly at herself,” she added.

Banned from the stage in centuries past, women of spunk always found an outlet in acting, but it was not until the Edwardian era that a career in theatre was accepted as entirely proper.

Jane Baxter, born in 1909, was among many young women in the first half of the 20th century who sought a fulfilling livelihood on the stage. She trained at the Italia Conti Academy and made her debut in 1925 at the age of 15 as an urchin in Love’s Prisoner at the Adelphi Theatre in London.

She had many film parts and her career ran until the 1970s when her final roles included one in the TV series Upstairs Downstairs. Winston Churchill once called her “that charming lady whose face personifies all that is best in British womanhood.”

De Glehn, who some experts have ranked alongside his contemporary John Singer Sargent, depicts her straight-backed and leaning slightly forward, as if poised to propel herself into her future, epitomising in the context of this exhibition the start of unprecedented opportunities then opening up for women.

She appeared with many leading actors including John Gielgud and Margaret Rutherford in the 1947 Broadway production of The Importance of Being Earnest, playing Cicely Cardew. She worked in London’s West End over the decades and the actor Michael Redgrave numbered among her theatre friends.

Daughter of an Anglo-Irish naval officer and a German noblewoman, she was born Feodora Kathleen Alice Forde. Her first marriage to racing driver Clive Dundee in 1930 ended just two years later with his death in a race at Brooklands, which she sadly witnessed.

In 1939 she married Arthur Montgomery and one of her daughters, Sylvia, went on to marry Lord Crathorne. Apart from involvement with the Georgian Theatre, Lady Crathorne greatly supported her husband when he was Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

Katharine, who performed as Kiki Dugdale, toured with the band in Germany, Holland and around the UK. She gave up the job when she was expecting. Her home with husband Robin Field and their two-year-old is in Saltburn.

Marriage and motherhood fill her time at present, but she hopes to take up singing again, perhaps in one of the many choirs in the area. Her grandmother would applaud that.