Disraeli the Other

Benjamin Disraeli

Hughenden’s ‘Disraeli the Other’ exhibition explores how this most unlikely of Victorian prime ministers embellished his ancestry and accentuated his exotic mannerisms.

Benjamin Disraeli, by his own admission, was an outsider. He was born to an immigrant family and raised Jewish in a world sceptical of non-Christians before the family converted to the Church of England when he was 12 years old.

Fascinated by cultures outside of Europe, he faced judgement and suspicion from an early age.  It would have been tempting to disown or shrink from this ‘otherness’ in the midst of conformist Victorian society, but Disraeli embraced all that made him stand out from his contemporaries.

“You were born a Jew and you forsook your great people”, Queen Victoria said to Benjamin Disraeli. “Now you are a member of the Church of England, but no one believes that you are a Christian at heart. Please tell me, who are you and what are you?”

“Your Majesty,” Disraeli famously replied, “I am the blank page between the Old Testament and the New.”

Visit the first floor exhibition in the Statesman’s Room to find out more about the objects in Hughenden’s collection that whisper of Disraeli’s otherness. Open every day until 23th November, normal admission applies.

Disraeli’s book plate: crest with the Jewish Sephardic Castile and motto ‘for the brave nothing is difficult’
Disraeli's book plate
Disraeli’s book plate: crest with the Jewish Sephardic Castile and motto ‘for the brave nothing is difficult’
Disraeli’s ivory seal featuring the Jewish Sephardic Castile
Disraeli's ivory seal
Disraeli’s ivory seal featuring the Jewish Sephardic Castile

The exhibition was devised in partnership with the Jewish Country House Programme at Oxford University and is a proud participant in the programme for European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage. The EDJCH runs from Sun 2 September to Sun 14 October. The theme for 2018 is Storytelling’, for more information on activities in your area, click here: https://www.flipsnack.com/heritagedays/story-telling.html