Once Abandoned, Now Glorious
A FORMER MONASTERY AND COUNTRY HOME IS NOW ELEGANTLY DRESSED FOR CHRISTMAS.
A former monastery and country home transforms during the Season of Light.
Anglesey Abbey is a medieval building, originally founded by King Henry I in 1135, as The Hospital of St Mary. It became a priory in the early 13th century, when a group of Augustinian monks moved in. Then in 1536, King Henry VIII started to dissolve the monasteries across England, Wales and Ireland, forcing the monks out, and giving their land and buildings to his favored nobles. Anglesey Abbey was given to a lawyer named John Hynde, who removed part of the roof and used the materials in the construction of a mansion he was building at Madingley Hall. Anglesey Abbey was abandoned, and left to decay.
Fortunately it was rescued in 1596, when the Fowkes family bought it and turned the monks’ living quarters into their new home. The work was completed in 1609. Then, almost 250 years later, in 1848, Reverend John Hailstone purchased the Abbey. He demolished part of the building, and created a new stable block with brickwork salvaged from his demolitions. He was the first person to call it ‘Anglesey Abbey.’
In 1926, Lord Fairhaven purchased the Abbey, with help from his brother. Lord Fairhaven spent the next few years remodelling the property, transforming it into a luxury country home. He reinstated the dormer windows, which had been removed by Reverend Hailstone, and gave the dining room a new feel with a medieval-style fireplace as its focal point. He also turned part of the servants’ quarters into a large library to
house his growing collection of books. He displayed art, clocks and silverware in his impressive new residence.
Today, the collections are still in place, and when Anglesey Abbey opens for Christmas, the treasures will be accompanied by festive decorations, including twelve Christmas trees, each dressed to reflect a different aspect of Anglesey Abbey’s story.
THE TRAIL OF TREES
The trail of trees will explore the history of Anglesey Abbey with a focus on Lord Fairhaven and his passions. A tree in the library will be decorated in a book theme, reflecting his love of literature and reading. A silver Christmas tree will be displayed in the dining room, representing Lord Fairhaven’s collection of precious silverware. Gentlemanly pursuits, such as shooting, racing, collecting and traveling will be represented on the tree in the living room.
There will be a conservation tree in the upper gallery, representing the conservation work that happens at Anglesey Abbey—it may be created out of brushes, with other conservation tools used to decorate it. A gift tree will be displayed in the shop, a membership tree will go up in reception (promoting membership of the National Trust, which owns the house today), and a catering tree will be on shown in the Redwoods Restaurant. Four special Christmas trees also will be displayed in the gardens.
THE HOUSE TOUR
When you enter the house, the first room you reach is the living room, originally
Above: The spiral stairs are graced by a French 18th-century chinoiserie tapestry and an 18thcentury silver gilt candlestick. A portrait of Lord Fairhaven painted in 1925 hangs on the wall.