Once Aban­doned, Now Glo­ri­ous


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Susie Kear­ley

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 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.


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.

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