A RARE painting of the first Earl of Devonshire has gone on display at the medieval peer’s former home in Tiverton Castle after the building’s owners bought the artwork at an antiques fair.

Owner Alison Gordon, who inherited the castle in the mid-1980s, purchased the painting of Edward Courtenay at Powderham Castle, where a host of antiques went under the hammer, including original Disney storyboard sketches.

Edward lived at Tiverton Castle after enduring years of imprisonment in the Tower of London where he was locked up from the age of 12 after his father Henry Courtenay, the first Marquis of Exeter, was implicated in a plot against King Henry VIII and beheaded.

He was eventually released when Queen Mary I came to the throne in 1553 and later lived aboard, where he died in mysterious circumstances in Italy in 1556.

His death marked the end of the senior line of Courtenays at Tiverton Castle, which was then inherited by descendants of his four great aunts, and later bought by various families down the ages.

The picture is an early copy of the original, thought to be at Woburn Abbey. Alison, who has lived at the castle since 1994, said she had always attributed the artwork to Dutch painter Antonis Mor, but was surprised to hear from the dealer that the painter was in fact Steven van der Meulen.

“We are delighted to have this picture at Tiverton Castle and it will be on show to the public,” she said.