Stephen Fry reveals previously untold LGBTQ history at Felbrigg Hall

Volunteer John Wing standing on a fallen tree at Felbrigg

In 2017, Stephen Fry narrated a short film called ‘The Unfinished Portrait’, which revealed new information about the fascinating life of Felbrigg Hall’s last squire, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer.

Many of our places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality.

The last squire of Felbrigg

Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer - the last squire of Felbrigg - was known as a shy, gentle man, known as ‘Bunny’ to his friends. He never married and with the tragic death of his brother and no heir, he restored his exquisite ancestral home and bequeathed it to the nation.

Until now, official accounts of his life have offered only a partial story and neglected to acknowledge his homosexuality, which was widely accepted by those who knew him. Instead he was referred to as 'the bachelor squire'... or 'not one for the ladies'.

Revealing untold stories

Working with the staff at Felbrigg, the University of Leicester team from the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries have uncovered new information about the squire – his poetry, scholarship and circle of friends, that has been used to create a beautiful short film. 

The Unfinished Portrait

The film formed part of the National Trust’s ‘Prejudice and Pride’ programme, whereby the University of Leicester and National Trust worked in collaboration to tackle prejudice through a celebration of LGBTQ heritage.

Here we used an unusual and striking blend of live action (featuring volunteers from Felbrigg), animation and motion graphics, created by a talented team of artists and designers - Julie Howell, Tom Butler and Lea Nagano.

There’s also a British Sign Language signed version of the film, as well as a film with subtitles for those who need it - with large print and Braille copies of the script available at Felbrigg. You can also download the audio desciptive script below.

Audio descriptive script (PDF / 0.1083984375MB) download

" Some have asked why Prejudice & Pride is necessary – why the lives of people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality should be made public and celebrated in this way. The answer is quite simple – to do anything less is to suggest that same-sex love and gender diversity is somehow wrong, and keeping these stories hidden only lets prejudice – past and present - go unchallenged."
- Stephen Fry

Prejudice and Pride

2017 marked 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. Throughout 2017, we shared the stories of people who challenged conventional notions of gender and sexuality and who shaped the properties in which they lived. 

The University of Leicester team, led by Professor Richard Sandell, helped to tell these previously hidden stories for the first time and broke new ground in the way those stories were researched, presented and used to engage the public in debates around contemporary LGBTQ equality.

Professor Richard Sandell, University of Leicester:

“50 years on from the partial decriminalisation it is tempting to think that LGBTQ equality has been achieved but sadly the reality is that many – especially young people – continue to face prejudice and discrimination today. There is a need to build greater public understanding which is where support from someone as well loved and respected as Stephen Fry makes a huge difference in the winning of hearts and minds.”

Felbrigg is Stephen Fry’s favourite of all of the National Trust’s sites. Why not visit Felbrigg for yourself?