Sunday, 2 September 2012

Anglesey Abbey - Lets Look Inside!

When Lord Fairhaven acquired Anglesey Abbey in 1930 it had already been a country house for over three centuries. It was bought by Thomas Hobson around 1600 (you can read a little about him in this post). He turned the former priory - it never was an abbey - into a residence for his son-in-law and retained some of the arches from the original building.

Fairhaven's main reason for buying the property was its proximity to the horse-racing at Newmarket, for he and his brother owned a stables nearby. Having bought the house he began to turn it into the kind of residence fit for a wealthy gentleman. One of the delights of visiting the house today is that it is presented as if Lord Fairhaven has just gone out for a stroll and might return at any moment; for example there is a half-smoked cigar next to the writing desk in the room pictured above.

He began collecting furniture and works of art to fill the rooms. As with the statues with which he decorated the garden he was able to purchase items easily since many families had fallen on hard times as a result of the Depression. One is immediately aware of the huge number of clocks of all shapes and sizes which adorn every room.

Time was a matter of great importance to his Lordship and the house had to run to a very strict timetable; the evening meal had to be served at 8:05 pm precisely!

The Oak Room, as it is known, looks very old but was also created less than 100 years ago. The ornate ceiling is actually a cast obtained from an original Jacobean ceiling from an Inn at Banbury. You'll notice more clocks on display around the room.

Many of the paintings and tapestries which adorn the walls depict scenes from the natural world for Lord Fairhaven was fond of country pursuits such as hunting, shooting and fishing but also appears to have had a wider interest in nature.

Upstairs you can see some of the clothes which he wore, for he was a great stickler for correct attire for each occasion. Dig the two-tone brogues!

There is a superb library which is appointed with sofas and armchairs in which to read in comfort as well as a writing desk. When looking at old houses they often appear to be cold and draughty places; the doors are left open at all times and the fires are seldom lit. In reality a maid would have kept the fires well stoked up and the fitted carpets would have made even such a large room quite cosy.

As the art collection grew and grew it became necessary to house them in a room specially designed for the purpose. Here is the gallery, with plenty of room to stand back and admire the work on display.

Also in the gallery this unusual "lyre" clock. But lets go downstairs again; we still haven't seen that dining room.

No, this is just the hall leading down to the dining room, all arranged to give maximum impact as his guests arrived to eat. Lord Fairhaven was said to be a generous host and had guests nearly every night, but only in small numbers since he felt that if there were more than four at the table then some guests would be excluded from the conversation. And he had some important guests too, including the Queen Mother, another enthusiast for horse-racing!

The dining room is built to incorporate the original arches from the priory. What a wonderful setting they provide. At nine o'clock the butler would bring a wireless into the room so that Lord Fairhaven could listen to the news on the BBC!

Lord Fairhaven died in 1966 having never married. He left his house and grounds to the National Trust so that they could preserve for the nation "the home of an English gentleman, a way of life which is fast disappearing in the modern world".

More posts about Anglesey Abbey:
The gardens in spring.
Snowdrops and the winter garden.
Lode Mill - which stands within the grounds.
The gardens and statues.

Take care.


  1. I haven't been to Anglesey Abbey but it looks well worth a visit. I like the idea of it still looking as though Lord Fairhaven lives there - doesn't sound very National Trust though. They invariably manage to make everywhere seem cold and impersonal.

  2. very interesting tour John; love the arches in the dining room especially

  3. Very interesting. I think the National Trust are doing very well these days with their houses - they always try to bring out a bit of their history. This really gives an impression of what Lord Fairhaven was like, at least from your description.

    I do also think that it is nice to go into a stately home that is still used. Because then of course Lord whatsit has introduced a top of the range HD telly or commissioned modern art from a living person.

    Thanks for this excellent post. I like your blog.

  4. I haven't been to this place but I've heard of it and it seems well worth a visit from this. It's nice that is has been kept as it was when Fairhaven lived there, even down to the half smoked cigar! You don't see that in many places.

  5. Lord Fairhaven certainly had superb taste in decor John, how interesting to see how a gent lived back then, but somehow i think it would be even nicer to see this grand old abbey (what a dining room!) being used as a big family home!

  6. Excellent tour, John, and a fine piece of photojournalism.

  7. An exemplary English gentleman's home... the details you present are excellent and fascinating. I like his closet full of clothes, which makes him seem very real and personal, and I love the half-smoked cigar on display. And what a dining room amid the arches! Fantastic.

  8. Wow, what a place! Love that library most... John, don't forget to set your alarm clock tonight, six is going to come early... tomorrow is a holiday for the US (Labor Day) so I don't have to hear it ring at 04:30 until Tuesday...

  9. Since I collect (nearly) all thing "turkey," I especially enjoyed the third image, but the whole tour and commentary were wonderful.

  10. I'm so pleased you took us for a peek inside this wonderful home ..... I could imagine Christmas dinner served in that amazing dining room. ... very special.

  11. Although a very large and expensive residence, there is a warmth and coziness to the Abbey that is most inviting.

  12. I very much like the look of the room with all the arches. Lord Fairhaven had good taste. I like the idea that he wanted only four people at his table at one time, which makes me think he must have been an attentive host. Although I prefer for events to happen on time, I might find his preciseness a bit hard to take.

  13. Oh I do like a good stately home but more often than not I don't get to take pictures inside, so it's great to see some photos in here. It's good when you get some idea of what it would have been like to live there - for me these are visits that are best - if I just want to see things, I can go to a museum or gallery.
    Nice gentle curve on that staircase :)


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