Pictures courtesy of Noonan's
KCVO, K295 and 295;
Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knight of Grace, set of insignia, comprising neck badge and breast star, silver and enamels;
QSA (4) Belmont, Modder River, Driefontein, South Africa 1902 (Major N. R. Wilkinson. Coldstm Gds.);
1914-15 Star (Capt: N. R. Wilkinson. C. Gds.);
British War and Victory Medals, with MID (Major N. R. Wilkinson.);
Belgium, Kingdom, Order of Leopold, Fifth Class breast badge, with swords, silver, silver-gilt and enamels
KCVO London Gazette 22 June 1921.
CVO London Gazette 14 July 1911.
Knight Bachelor London Gazette 1 January 1920.
Order of St. John, Knight of Grace London Gazette 4 March 1913.
Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson was born at Highgate, London, on 26 October 1869, third son of Colonel Josiah Wilkinson, barrister, of Highgate, by his wife Alice Emma, daughter of Thomas Smith, of Highgate. He was educated at Harrow and passed on to the Royal Military College, whence he was gazetted into the Coldstream Guards in 1890. His first service abroad was in India, but on the outbreak of war in 1899 he was sent to South Africa, serving with credit and winning a medal with four bars. Illness caused him to be invalided home early in 1900, but he recovered sufficiently to be sent out again in 1902.
During the years of peace that preceded the war of 1914-18 Wilkinson’s interests turned more and more strongly to the decorative arts in general and to the art and lore of heraldry in particular. He entered the National Art Training School (later the Royal College of Art), South Kensington, and took his studies seriously. From the earliest days as a practising artist he conceived an extreme interest in working in miniature, and as early as 1907 he projected a model palace for the Queen of the Fairies on the scale of one inch to the foot.
So expert did Wilkinson become in heraldry that in 1907 he was able to resign his commission in the Guards and in 1908 to take up the post of Ulster King of Arms and registrar of the Order of St Patrick. He shared with A. F. Winnington Ingram, Bishop of London, the honour of officiating at two coronations, those of King George V and King George VI. Meanwhile he was proceeding slowly with Titiana’s palace and exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy. On the outbreak of the war in 1914 he rejoined the army and served on the staff first in France and later in Macedonia, earning a mention in despatches and a brevet majority.
Returning to peaceful avocations, Wilkinson at length finished Titiana’s palace, a sixteen-bedroomed house which was opened by Queen Mary in 1923. For its decoration he had evolved a technique which he called ‘mosaic painting’. By the use of an etcher’s glass he laid on minute dabs of water-colour, irregular in shape like mosaic tesserae, and numbering 1,000 or more to the square inch. The palace was completely furnished with every conceivable detail, and was greatly admired by the public. It was exhibited all over the United States of America, Canada, Newfoundland, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, and the Argentine.
Wilkinson continued his career as a decorative craftsman, and a collective exhibition of his works was held at the galleries of the Fine Art Society in 1937. He also wrote several books, including his reminiscences, To All and Singular (1925), Wilton House Pictures (2 vols., 1907), Wilton House Guide (1908), and The Guards Chapel, 1838-1938 (1938). Wilkinson had his own niche in the art world, and his services to art and heraldry were recognised by his being appointed C.V.O. in 1911, knighted in 1920, and appointed K.C.V.O. in 1921. He married in 1903 Lady Beatrix Frances Gertrude, elder daughter of Sidney Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. Sir Nevile Wilkinson died in Dublin on 22 December 1940.