Archive for May, 2021

Hidden signatures found Anne Boleyn’s execution prayer book

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours has joined Isabella Stuart’s in giving up its long-held secrets. Previously unknown inscriptions have been found that identify the close network of owners who kept the book quietly safe, at no inconsiderable risk to themselves, after her execution in 1536.

The Book of Hours, part of the collection of Hever Castle, Anne’s childhood home, was made in Paris in the 1520s for Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife, and likely given to Anne when she was Catherine’s lady-in-waiting. It was printed, not handwritten, and while it is technically illuminated, it was really just colored in because the illustrations were actually woodcuts that were then painted by hand. Anne’s was a more expensive version because it was printed on vellum.

It is one of only three surviving books of Anne Boleyn’s to have signed inscriptions in her hand. The inscription written across from an image of the Coronation of the Virgin reads: “Remember me when you do pray, that hope dothe led from day to day.” Underneath it is Anne’s signature. Legend has it she carried this book to the gallows.

Medieval historian and former steward of Hever Castle Kate McCaffrey was given special permission to examine the castle’s two inscribed Anne Boleyn prayer books. In the Book of Hours, she spotted what looked like smudges. When examined under ultra-violet light, the smudges proved to be four signatures of people related to Elizabeth Hill, a childhood friend of Anne’s and part of her court. Three of the signatories were women — Hill’s mother, her aunt, her cousin — and one was a man — her uncle. They had been erased leaving only the smudges visible to the naked eye.

Using ultraviolet light and photo editing software she discovered three family names written in the book; Gage, West, and Shirley (from Sundridge, near Sevenoaks). These three names centre around a fourth, the Guildford family of Cranbrook in Kent.

Kate’s research uncovered that the book was passed from female to female, of families not only local to the Boleyn family at Hever but also connected by kin.

She explained: “It is clear that this book was passed between a network of trusted connections, from daughter to mother, from sister to niece. If the book had fallen into other hands, questions almost certainly would have been raised over the remaining presence of Anne’s signature. Instead, the book was passed carefully between a group of primarily women who were both entrusted to guard Anne’s note and encouraged to add their own.

“In a world with very limited opportunities for women to engage with religion and literature, the simple act of marking this Hours and keeping the secret of its most famous user, was one small way to generate a sense of community and expression.”



“Nationally important” Roman ritual bronzes fall through Treasure Act loophole

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

A hoard of nationally important Roman ritual bronzes that includes a bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius have sold at auction to an unknown buyer for £185,000 ($260,000) thanks to the still-open loophole in the 1996 Treasure Act.

The assemblage was discovered last May by metal detectorists James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field near the village of Ampleforth in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire. They first unearthed a figurine of a horse and rider. A foot away they dug up the bust and a conical plumb bob. They found the a key handle in the shape of the forequarters of a horse the next day. The hoard was then taken to York Museum and examined by archaeologists.

The bust is finely modelled, with detailed facial features and curled hair. There are rivet holes on the front of the chest plate indicating that it was originally mounted onto something, probably a priestly scepter. The features identify the bust as a portrait of Marcus Aurelius, which means the deposit dates to the 2nd century at the earliest.

Two comparable deposits found in the 19th century also included a scepter head bust of an emperor, horse and rider figurines and mounts and fittings. The plumb bob has no parallel in votive deposits. Archaeologists believe the inclusion of the key component of a surveyor’s tool may be an indication that the offering was related to construction, perhaps asking the sanction of the gods for the creation of a new town boundary (pomerium).

Despite the great archaeological significance of the assemblage, it does not qualify as treasure because it’s not two or more coins 300 years old or older, not made of precious metal and not prehistoric. This loophole springs from a ludicrously outdated definition of treasure established in medieval common law. The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport finally addressed the problem and a revision of the act that would plug the loophole was written in 2019. Unfortunately the complexities of the legislative process — public consultation period, further research, the publication of said research, the official drafting of the legislation and its passage by Parliament — mean it won’t actually be law until 2022 at the earliest.

So now the Ryedale Ritual Bronzes join the Crosby Garret helmet, the Roman licking dog, the Allectus aureus and who knows how many other treasures of cultural patrimony that haven’t made the press. Let’s hope the buyer turns out to be a museum, or at least a generous donor.


250 rock-cut tombs found in Egyptian necropolis

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

A group of 250 rock-cut tombs have been discovered in the Al-Hamidiyah necropolis near Sohag on the western bank of the Nile in southern Egypt. They were found in the course of a Supreme Council of Antiquities project to document the archaeological site.

Tombs of different types — single and multiple shaft burials, chamber graves — were carved into the face of the mountain at various levels. The range in date from the late Old Kingdom (2700-2200 B.C.) to the end of the Ptolemaic era (305-30 B.C.). Most of the extant ancient archaeological remains near Sohag are Ptolemaic, so the Old Kingdom tombs are particularly notable.

One of the Old Kingdom tombs uncovered consists of an entrance leading to a cross-hall and a burial shaft in the south-east side, and a sloped passage leading to a small burial chamber, Waziri said, with burial shafts making an appearance in later eras.

Waziri explained that the tomb also featured a false door covered in Hieroglyphic inscriptions, alongside depictions of sacrifices and offerings to the dead.

Excavation of the tombs has unearthed funerary artifacts, primarily pottery, some of which were items of daily use. Others were purely funerary, votive miniatures explicitly made for burial purposes. The team also discovered spherical pots with traces of their original yellow paint, small alabaster vessels and a round metal mirror. In addition to the inscribed false door from the Old Kingdom tomb, archaeologists uncovered fragments of limestone slabs carved with hieroglyphics dating to the end of the 6th Dynasty.

This group of tombs represents the rulers and employees of the ninth region of Upper Egypt, which is considered one of the important administrative centres of ancient Egypt, due to the location of the Mediterranean between the exiled capital and Aswan, as well as the vicinity of the city of Abydos, which is the centre of the worship of the god ‘Osir’.

The main centre of the region was the city of Akhmim, and the main deity of the region was the god ‘Min’. It is expected that more graves will be uncovered before the project is completed.


Duke’s wife replaced in 15th c. illumination

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

Infrared imaging has revealed that a 15th century Book of Hours was reworked to replace the first wife of a duke with a depiction of his second wife. Curators at the Fitzwilliam Museum noticed a strange darkened area on folio 20r of MS62, aka the Hours of Isabella Stuart. The dark area was examined in the laboratory using IR technology to reveal the underdrawing and the late first wife.

The Hours of Isabella Stuart was not made for Isabella Stuart. The manuscript was commissioned by Yolande of Aragon, Dowager Duchess of Anjou, who had it elaborately illuminated by artists in Angers known as the Rohan Masters. She gave the book to her daughter, Yolande of Anjou, around the time of her marriage to the future Duke Francis I of Brittany in 1431. Yolande died in 1440 and two years later Francis remarried to Isabella Stuart, daughter of James I of Scotland. Francis had his late wife’s prayer book adapted as a wedding gift for his new wife by artists in Nantes. When Isabella’s daughter Margaret of Brittany got married (to her cousin, the future Duke Francis II) in 1455, the book passed to her. She had another Breton artist adapt the manuscript by adding a new illumination of Margaret kneeling before the Virgin and Child.

With more than 500 figural scenes, this is one of the most extensively illuminated Book of Hours still in existence. The large miniatures depict scenes from the life of Mary and Jesus taken from each Gospel. Smaller marginal miniatures depict signs of the Zodiac and seasonal labor (in the Calendar), and of Christ and the saints inspired by the Book of Revelation and a 14th century cycle of allegorical poems illustrate the prayers. Dense floral designs infill the pages.

The central image on folio 20r depicts the Virgin and Child. Kneeling in front of her to the left is a woman wearing a ducal coronet. Behind her stands St. Catherine. The dark blotch looms behind the coronet on the chest of St. Catherine. The overpainting was done in two stages. In the first stage, St. Catherine was added and the face and clothes of the original patron, Yolande of Anjou, were repainted to represent Isabella Stuart. The heraldic dress now featured the arms of Isabella Stuart, the Scottish lion rampant impaled (in the heraldic sense of a divided field) with the ermine of Brittany to denote her marriage. The same arms were added to the four corners of folio 20r and throughout the rest of the book.

In the second stage, Yolande’s head dress, which Isabella retained at first, was overpainted to blend into Catherine’s robe and the ducal coronet added. Yolande was never duchess because Francis didn’t succeed to the title until August 1442, two years after her death. When he commissioned the Nantes artist to make the changes to the Book of Hours, he and Isabella weren’t married yet, so the coronet was added after she became Duchess of Brittany.

Analysis of the materials used laid out a timeline of the modifications. The Rohan Masters used malachite, ultramarine, lead white, red lead, brown earth and a pink derived from insects for their images. The two Nantes artist that made the modifications for Isabella and  Margaret’s additions used less expensive materials — an organic green colorant instead of the mineral malachite, azurite instead of ultramarine and vermilion instead of red lead. The blue mantle of St. Catherine standing behind Isabella was painted with ultramarine initially, matching the rich blue of the Virgin’s garment, but when the kneeling patron’s headdress was covered up with the coronet, the front of St. Catherine’s robe was touched up with azurite. All of the blue elements in the Margaret of Brittany addition were made with azurite.

Richly illuminated manuscripts like this were expensive heirlooms and as they traded hands over the generations, the new owners liked to add their stamp to them. The addition of new heraldic elements, as was done here with Isabella Stuart’s arms, was more common.

Dr Reynolds said: “It’s a very exciting discovery.

“These books in a way are sort of archaeological sites and when you start to uncover what lies under these images it actually unlocks the human story of how these books were commissioned and then passed from one person to another as the story of these different marriages and different dynastic alliances evolved.”

She described the over-painting as “not unique but unusual”.

The Hours of Isabella Stuart has gone on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum’s new exhibition The Human Touch: Making Art, Leaving Traces. The manuscript has also been digitized and can be perused in high definition with copious fascinating annotations on the museum’s website.


Roman baths emerge from sand dunes of Cádiz

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The remains of a Roman bath from the 4th century have emerged from the dunes of Cape Trafalgar near Cádiz, on the southwest coast of Spain. Roman buildings in any condition are rare survivals in Cádiz because the ancient city, founded by Phoenicians 3,100 years ago, was destroyed during the Visigothic conquest of southern Spain in 410 A.D., and this building is unusually well-preserved by the winds that quickly buried it in sand after it was abandoned.

The surviving walls are 13 feet high (the remains of Roman structures are typically foundations and short walls no more than two feet high) and contain numerous windows and doors. There are fragments of the red, white and black stucco used to decorate the walls, as well as marble cladding.

“It is a structure that has an exceptional state of conservation for the Iberian Peninsula and the western Mediterranean in general,” Darío Bernal, a professor of archaeology at the University of Cádiz, tells Efe. […]

Bernal and his team believe the building was a sophisticated rural bath complex complete with an oven-fueled hot air current that warmed the walls and floors.

It most likely served as a communal hot bath for local workers, many of whom would have toiled away in odorous coastal jobs like fish farming and salting.

Indeed, the archaeology team was exploring the site as part of a research project investigating the history of Roman aquaculture in the area. When the structure first emerge, Bernal thought it was a cetaria, a fish pond connected to the sea where fish and crustaceans were fattened up. Wealthy Romans attached these nurseries to their estates so they had a constant supply of the best fish for their own consumption and to sell.

Fishing and fish products were the main industry in this area during the Roman era. What is now Cádiz was a major producer of garum, the sauce made of crushed and fermented fish intestines that was consumed in prodigious quantities by people from every walk of life all over the Roman empire. The garum from the Hispania Baetica province was considered the best, and the remains of garum factories have been found in Cádiz and other towns along the coast.

Local authorities are now considering what to do with the dune baths once excavations are complete. One possibility is to maintain it as an archaeological park to attract tourism. The other is just to let the wind do its thing and bury it back in the sand for its own protection.


Antioch mosaics reclaimed at Florida museum

Saturday, May 15th, 2021

Visitor views pavement from the House of the Drinking Contest, Roman, 2nd Century A.D., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at the exhibit. Photo courtesy MFA, St. Petersburg.The mosaic panels unearthed at the ancient site of Antioch in the 1930s only to be reburied under the east lawn of the Museum of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the 1980s, have gone on display in a new exhibition at the museum.

The museum acquired the set of five mosaics from Princeton University in the 1964, the year before the museum opened its doors. The pavements date to between the 2nd and 5th centuries and were raised from the floors of luxury Roman-era villas in the suburbs of Antioch. Two of the mosaics were permanently installed out of doors, one in the Membership garden, one cemented into a fountain in the Sculpture Garden. One was put in storage, and in 1989, the last two were buried under the lawn for unknown reasons.

The neglected mosaic collection got some much-needed attention with the appointment of new executive director Kristen Shepherd in 2017. She found the one in storage, had the ones under the lawn excavated and detached the one that had been embedded in the fountain. Three years of cleaning and conservation later, the five mosaic panels (plus one previously unrecorded fragment found in the east lawn excavation) have gone on display in Antioch Reclaimed: Ancient Mosaics at the MFA, open through August 22nd.

“Our acquisition of these mosaics from Princeton a year before the museum opened represents a message that the museum would be an encyclopedic art museum and the founders had that in mind. They were the first shipments of art at our loading dock, so it was a big deal,” says Michael Bennett, Ph.D., the MFA’s curator of Early Western Art. “With Princeton’s full collaboration, we’re telling the story of their 1930s excavation and Antioch. We’re including a documentary film made by the archeologists during that excavation that’s never been seen by the general public. Princeton has never loaned any of this archival material before, so this is a world premiere.”

For a completely immersive experience, the MFA is pulling out all of the tech stops to incorporate video, QR code audio guides, and historic black and white photography as storytelling elements to fully encapsulate the journey of these mosaics. They even have a time-lapse from the 2018 excavation of the mosaics from their lawn to their conservation with the help of RLA Conservation to them finally being moved and installed in the exhibition gallery.

When the exhibition ends, the mosaics will be permanently mounted as a group on the walls of the Membership Garden.


Goth soldier with bent sword found in Thessaloniki basilica

Friday, May 14th, 2021

The tomb of a Goth warrior buried with a bent sword has been found in an early Christian basilica in Thessaloniki. It is the first burial of a soldier with weapons from this period ever discovered in the region of Macedonia.

The remains of the three-aisled basilica from the 5th century were discovered in 2010 during an archaeological survey in advance of subway construction. It had been built over a preceding chapel from the 4th century that is believed to be the oldest Christian church in Thessaloniki. Seven vaulted tombs were found under the south aisle. These must have been Christians of importance in the city to be honored with burial in the basilica.

One arch-shaped tomb contained the skeletal remains of the an adult man interred with weapons including a shield boss and spearhead. The best preserved of his weapons was his spatha, a short sword used by Roman cavalry in the late Imperial period(3rd-5th c.). It had been deliberately folded, an extremely rare phenomenon in urban Greece at this time. The practice was more common in Celtic and Germanic populations. Romans did not bend swords, and the practice of weapons burial is unusual in a Christian funerary context from this period. It was considered a pagan ritual, so finding them in a basilica grave is unexpected. It’s an indication of the high rank he probably held in the army.

The bent sword is a clue that the soldier was a “Romanized Goth or from any other Germanic tribe who served as a mercenary (foederatus) in the imperial Roman forces,” Maniotis wrote in the email. The Latin word “foederatus” comes from “foedus,” a term describing a “treaty of mutual assistance between Rome and another nation,” Maniotis noted. “This treaty allowed the Germanic tribes to serve in the Roman Army as mercenaries, providing them with money, land and titles. [But] sometimes these foederati turned against the Romans.”

The archaeological team recently found ancient coins at the site, so they plan to use these, as well as the style of the sword’s pommel, or the knob on the handle, to figure out when this soldier lived, Maniotis noted.


Confirmed: Cerne Abbas Giant is medieval

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

The evidence of the microscopic snail shells has been confirmed: the Cerne Abbas Giant dates to the Middle Ages. National Trust researchers used Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to analyze soil samples taken from the deepest sediment layer of the chalk. OSL can determine when minerals were last exposed to sunlight, and the soil in the earliest archaeological layer of the Cerne Abbas Giant last saw the sun between 700 and 1100 A.D.

National Trust senior archaeologist Martin Papworth said: “The archaeology on the hillside was surprisingly deep – people have been re-chalking the giant over a long period of time. The deepest sample from his elbows and feet tells us he could not have been made before 700AD, ruling out theories that he is of prehistoric or Roman origin.

“This probable Saxon date places him in a dramatic part of Cerne history. Nearby Cerne Abbey was founded in 987AD and some sources think the abbey was set up to convert the locals from the worship of an early Anglo Saxon god known as ‘Heil’ or ‘Helith’. The early part of our date range does invite the question, was the giant originally a depiction of that god?”


There are still knotty problems that need unraveling. Some of the soil samples returned dates up to 1560, but the earliest surviving written account documenting its existence is from 1694, and it defies comprehension that the carving of a naked man 180 feet tall with a 30-foot erection into the side of a hill would go unremarked. For that matter, wouldn’t Cerne Abbe have had a bone (lol) to pick with the choice of subject matter?

Martin’s working theory is that the giant may have been a medieval creation but then – for reasons we may never know – was neglected for several hundred years, before being rediscovered.

“I wonder whether he was created very early on, perhaps in the late Saxon period, but then became grassed over and was forgotten. But at some stage, in low sunlight, people saw that figure on the hill and decided to re-cut him again. That would explain why he doesn’t appear in the abbey records or in Tudor surveys.”

This is consistent with Mike Allen’s research, which found that microscopic snails in the sediment samples included species that were introduced into Britain in the medieval period. The archaeological fieldwork and scientific study, however, found no archaeological evidence that the giant was deliberately covered over.


Herculaneum victim identified as Pliny’s first responder

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

One of 300 skeletons discovered on the ancient beach at Herculaneum in the 1980s has been identified as a senior officer in the rescue mission launched by Pliny the Elder after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Skeleton 26, an adult man around 40 years old when the volcano claimed his life, was initially identified as a soldier based on his muscular build and uniform elements, but a recent analysis of his gear indicates that he was far more than a simple soldier, a high-ranking officer certainly, likely a naval officer deployed to help evacuate the residents of Herculaneum.

The skeletal remains of people seeking shelter in the boat sheds on Herculaneum’s beach first emerged in 1982. They were the first human remains found in the town which was previously believed to have been successfully evacuated before the eruption buried the city in 60 feet of hardening volcanic rock. The 300 people fled to the beach in hope of being rescued by ship. They took shelter inside roofed archways that under non-apocalyptic conditions were used to store gear and nets from fishing boats.

Skeleton 26 was found face-down in the sand, thrown to the ground by the force of the pyroclastic flow that hit the city going 60 miles an hour and killed everyone in the sheds. He wore a leather belt decorated with silver and gold foil from which hung a gladius (short sword) with an ivory grip. On the other side of him was a pugio (dagger) also highly decorated. Next to the body was a group of coins — 12 silver denarii and two gold coins — that add up to the monthly salary of a Praetorian Guard in the first century. On his back was a rectangular backpack holding a set of tools. A few feet away were the remains of a military boat, the rescue ship the evacuees had waited for only to be killed before they could step foot on it.

Herculaneum archaeologists at first focused on studying the recovered bones, but recently researchers returned to backpack, belt and weapons for an in-depth analysis. The study revealed that the belt’s gold and silver foil decorations depicted a lion and a cherub. The scabbard of the gladius was adorned with an oval shield. The work tools in the backpack were typical of the faber navalis, a naval engineer who specialized in carpentry.

Recently another team of researchers performed a DNA test on the skull of another skeleton, found more than a hundred years ago on a beach near Pompeii, thought to be that of Pliny the Elder. Like the skeleton in Herculaneum, it was wearing a heavily ornamented sword and was draped with golden necklaces and bracelets.

Pliny the Younger described his uncle’s fatal final mission to save the inhabitants of the Gulf of Naples in a letter to the historian Tacitus, which also contains the first description of what volcanologists would later dub a Plinian eruption.

My uncle was stationed at Misenum, where he was in active command of the fleet, with full powers. On the 24th of August [date is a centuries-old transcription/translation error; eruption was in October], about the seventh hour, my mother drew his attention to the fact that a cloud of unusual size and shape had made its appearance. He had been out in the sun, followed by a cold bath, and after a light meal he was lying down and reading. Yet he called for his sandals, and climbed up to a spot from which he could command a good view of the curious phenomenon. Those who were looking at the cloud from some distance could not make out from which mountain it was rising – it was afterwards discovered to have been Mount Vesuvius – but in likeness and form it more closely resembled a pine tree than anything else, for what corresponded to the trunk was of great length and height, and then spread out into a number of branches, the reason being, I imagine, that while the vapour was fresh, the cloud was borne upwards, but when the vapour became wasted, it lost its motion, or even became dissipated by its own weight, and spread out laterally. At times it looked white, and at other times dirty and spotted, according to the quantity of earth and cinders that were shot up.

To a man of my uncle’s learning, the phenomenon appeared one of great importance, which deserved a closer study. He ordered a Liburnian galley to be got ready, and offered to take me with him, if I desired to accompany him, but I replied that I preferred to go on with my studies, and it so happened that he had assigned me some writing to do. He was just leaving the house when he received a written message from Rectina, the wife of Tascus, who was terrified at the peril threatening her – for her villa lay just beneath the mountain, and there were no means of escape save by shipboard – begging him to save her from her perilous position. So he changed his plans, and carried out with the greatest fortitude the task, which he had started as a scholarly inquiry.

He had the galleys launched and went on board himself, in the hope of succoring, not only Rectina, but many others, for there were a number of people living along the shore owing to its delightful situation. He hastened, therefore, towards the place whence others were fleeing, and steering a direct course, kept the helm straight for the point of danger, so utterly devoid of fear that every movement of the looming portent and every change in its appearance he described and had noted down by his secretary, as soon as his eyes detected it. Already ashes were beginning to fall upon the ships, hotter and in thicker showers as they approached more nearly, with pumice-stones and black flints, charred and cracked by the heat of the flames, while their way was barred by the sudden shoaling of the sea bottom and the litter of the mountain on the shore. He hesitated for a moment whether to turn back, and then, when the helmsman warned him to do so, he exclaimed, “Fortune favours the bold….”

Bold he most certainly was — he took a leisurely bath, had a dinner, took a nap, finally made his way to the shore with a pillow tied to his head to protect against the pumice fall — but alas not fortunate. Pliny the Elder died on the beach, suffocated by the volcanic gases that suffused the air.

A new excavation of the ancient beach begins this month. Archaeologists are also working on extracting DNA from the skeletons of Herculaneum.


121-year-old chocolate bar found in helmet case

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

A 121-year-old chocolate bar still in its original wrapper and tin has been discovered in a helmet case in the attic of Oxburgh Hall, family seat of the Bedingfield baronets. The chocolate and helmet belonged to Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfield, 8th Baronet, who  was a major in the King’s Liverpool Regiment and fought in the Second Boer War. He was still in South Africa in 1902 when his father died. He returned to Oxburgh to claim his ancestral home and title. The chocolate went with him.

These chocolate bars were a New Year’s present from Queen Victoria to British troops in South Africa ringing in the turn of the century. More than 100,000 half-pound tins of chocolate bearing her embossed profile and New Year’s wishes in her own handwriting were produced by Britain’s top three chocolate companies, Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree. It was an awkward commission because all three companies were founded and run by devout Quakers who specifically sought out an “innocent trade” that would allow them to make a good living without having to compromise their pacifist principles. Victoria wouldn’t let them decline to profit from selling chocolates for troops fighting in an active war zone, so all three companies were strong-armed into it.

They managed to keep their brands off the tin, but even on that matter the Queen was less than flexible, insisting their names be somewhere on the chocolate or wrappers so the troops would know she was sending them the best British chocolate. The bars/wrappers weren’t all marked, however, and the Oxburgh bar has no surviving brand.

The gesture was popular, and soldiers kept the tins as keepsakes. They do crop up for sale every once in a while, empty tins, mostly, although the chocolate does survive rarely. (Not in any kind of condition to even contemplate ingesting it, of course.) Henry’s bar is an especially rare survival because it is directly connected to the person who received in South Africa in 1900.

The chocolate was discovered when staff and the family of Sir Henry’s daughter, Frances Greathead, began cataloguing items following her death in 2020 at the age of 100. Frances, along with her mother Sybil and cousin Violet, were instrumental in saving Oxburgh Hall from being sold at auction in 1951. After selling their houses to raise the necessary funds, all three women moved back to live at Oxburgh before donating it to the National Trust. Frances moved to South Africa in 1956, but still returned to her apartment at Oxburgh every summer.





May 2021


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