Discover the House at Anglesey Abbey
Discover how Anglesey Abbey transformed from a monastic priory to a gentleman’s home through ten unique objects. Each object has been carefully selected to tell a story of Anglesey Abbey, from a portrait of Henry VIII to a musical, 18th century clock.
Daily | 11 January – 1 March 2020 | 11.03am - 3.03pm (Last entry)
As you wander through the House, look out for the 10 objects that tell the story of Anglesey Abbey, from monastic priory, to a country home fit for an English gentleman.
Lord Fairhaven portrait
Lord Fairhaven (Huttleston Urban Rogers Broughton), bought Anglesey Abbey in 1926 with his Brother, Henry. The two enlarged the house and held shooting parties as well as hosting for the Newmarket races. They agreed that whoever married first would sell his share in the estate to the other. So when Henry wed in 1932, Lord Fairhaven became the sole owner of Anglesey.
The painting was commissioned in 1925, a year after Lord Fairhaven had retired from the military. He is depicted wearing the full ceremonial uniform of his regiment the 1st Life Guards, this uniform can be seen later during your visit in his Lordship’s wardrobe. It was painted by Sir Oswald Birley who also painted serval members of the British Royal family, spanning generations, from George V to Queen Elizabeth II.
Mudge and Dutton clock
Lord Fairhaven collected over 60 clocks and watches dating from 16th to 20th century. These include long cases, miniature clocks, automata clocks, bejewelled clocks and pocket watches. Clocks were valued objects for Lord Fairhaven who ran his household with military precision.
The Mudge and Dutton is an English automata clock. Automata means self-acting and refers to the moving figures in the painted scenes that decorate the clock. The orchestra on the clock face move their arms to play in time with the second hand and every hour Harlequin and Columbine are revealed, dancing backwards and forwards to music. As an 8-day clock it only requires winding once a week to stay running.
Reverend John Hailstone bought Anglesey Abbey in 1848 and went on to make several changes, including the demolition of surviving masonry from the monastic buildings to create a stable block, and the removal of the Jacobean dormer windows from the front of the House.
Within the collection are two pencil on paper sketches of Anglesey Abbey by Reverend John Hailtstone. They are both dated 1848, the year the Reverend bought the estate and reveal how much the house has changed.
The Cambridge Room
Downing College painting
In 1736, Anglesey Abbey was bought by Sir George Downing, a man of great wealth who is linked to the establishment of the Cambridge Colleges.
Lord Fairhaven was committed to the local area and had even named a room inside the House The Cambridge Room and hung above the fireplace is a landscape painting of King’s College and Clare College. In 1948 Lord Fairhaven collected over 60 works of art on paper in folios titled ‘Cambridge Views 1948’, they feature several colleges and their grounds.
The Abbey Room
Querns are hand mills used for grinding. They are most commonly used to grind grain to make flour for baking. Archaeologists have found of evidence of their use from 12,000 years ago. They have long been associated with food, harvests and life cycles and appear in religious texts as deeply symbolic objects.
The distinctive carving of a sleeping fox on the upper stone of the quern is a style thought to have originated in Europe and is likely from the 17th century. Believed to have been created to grind salt, the curled-up fox may be a reference to the maker’s name or a local folk tale.
5 Cherubs gilded sculpture
Dating from the 17th century this German carving features five cherubs holding two shields. Lord Fairhaven bought this in the 20th century, adding his own coat-of-arms which you can see painted onto the fronts of the shields.
The objects within this house have been collected by one man who valued the importance of history. It is thought that by adding his crest he sought to associate himself more deeply with history.
The Upper Gallery
The dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII occurred between 1536-1541. Painted before the dissolution of the monasteries, this portrait depicts a young Henry VIII and is thought to be one of the earliest depictions of the King in existence.
He is shown with a beard which he grew in readiness for his meeting with Francois I, King of France, at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. X-ray scans have revealed that significant alterations were made to this nationally important piece. The original composition portrays Henry with sloping shoulders, longer hair and no beard.
Decorated with angels and flowers, this silver sacristy chest is probably made from the metalwork of a former altar. Dating from the 16th century, it was created in Spain when the country was devoutly Roman Catholic.
The Dining Room
Anglesey was founded in 1135, during the reign of King Henry I, as a Hospital dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, it served as a resting place for pilgrims. In 1236 a Priory was founded by Augustinian Monks, they remained here for 300 years observing the religious cycles of the day, wearing black habits and hoods.
The Dining Room, Living Room and Long Gallery are part of the original monastic building from the mid thirteenth century. The Jesse Cabinet is carved with religious iconography and dates from the same period as the Priory.
Made from oak, this cabinet depicts ‘The Tree of Jesse’ showing the story of Christ’s ancestors with the Virgin and child at the centre. Dated 1509, It is thought that a previous owner, Sir Robert Wingfield, may have been gifted the cabinet by Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I, for who he was an ambassador.
Carved by the German sculptor Jörg Syrlin the Elder, this depiction of Saint Christopher is dated to 1470. Bought and displayed in this room by Lord Fairhaven he dates from the same time period as the Augustinian Priory. Lord Fairhaven collected and displayed many figures of Saints, throughout his home likely referencing the religious history of Anglesey Abbey. Other saints that can be seen around the house include Saint Jerome in the Living Room and Saint Sebastian in the Upper Gallery.
Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travellers. Described as being 7’5” feet tall, legend tells that he used his height and strength to safely carry travellers across a dangerous river. Here he is depicted carrying the Christ Child on his shoulder, river water around his feet. Christopher in Greek translates to ‘one who carries Christ’, originally both spiritual and physical in its meaning.
Saint Christopher is a popular saint in Western religious art, famous Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch painted St. Christopher Carrying the Christ Child in c.1485.