Scone Palace is one of the finest examples of late Georgian Gothic style in the UK and is the family home of the earls of Mansfield whose family name is Murray and who still reside in the Palace apartments for part of the year. In the Ambassadors Room in the Palace you will find a painting commissioned by William Murray the 1st Earl of Mansfield, who was at the time Lord Chief Justice of England. The painting by Johann Zoffany is of two young female members of William Murray's family. One of which is Lady Elizabeth Murray daughter of David Murray the 2nd Earl of Mansfield the other, more interestingly is Dido Elizabeth Belle. Born in the West Indies she was the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Williams’s nephew Sir John Lindsay who acknowledged her as his daughter and took her to the family home at Kenwood House in North London and begged his Uncle and Aunt to take her in to their guardianship. He died shortly after.
The film stars, amongst others, the British born stage and screen actress Gugo Mbatha-Raw as Belle, Tom Wilkinson as William Murray, Emily Watson as his wife, Matthew Goode as John Lindsay and Sarah Gabon as Dido's cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray.
Very little is known about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle but to their great credit writer Moissen Sagay and director Amma Asante manage to weave an enjoyable and moving story based around the famous painting. Period dramas are not always my thing but the story of Belle (2014) has a certain depth because its based on true events about the emancipation of slaves and the 18th century social order of wealth and privilege as well as benefiting from a social consciousness.