Photo finds shed new light on life of ‘Dancing Marquess’
PREVIOUSLY unseen photographs of a flamboyant aristocrat are on display at his former home.
Images of the enigmatic Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquess of Anglesey, form part of a new exhibition celebrating his life.
The snaps were found during a search though the archives as part of the project to create a room dedicated to the life of the man known as “The Dancing Marquess”.
They are thought to be the only known images of the Marquess and his theatrical troupe enjoying the gardens at his home at Plas Newydd, on the banks of the Menai Strait, near Llanfairpwll.
The exhibition also includes theatre programmes, a reproduction of one of the Marquess’ costumes and a mock-up of the Gaiety Theatre - a 150-seater converted chapel that was built for the Marquess to perform plays at Plas Newydd and removed by the family following his death.
Conservation assistant at Plas Newydd, Karen Allen, said: “We couldn’t believe it when we found these images.
“None of the team had ever seen them before so it caused quite a stir.
“This new discovery is significant, as it has always been understood that all other photographs, collection pieces and references to the Marquess were either sold in the infamous ‘Great Anglesey Sale’ in 1905, or subsequently lost or destroyed.
“To see these more candid images of the Marquess and his acting company enjoying the Plas Newydd gardens really give his history a sense of place.
“The only images we had of them previously were of them on stage in full costume and look more like a photoshoot, so these images give a real insight into his life behind the glamour.”
Henry Cyril Paget inherited the title of Marquess of Anglesey in 1898 and was noted for squandering his inheritance on a lavish social life, buying jewellery and furs, and to throw extravagant parties and flamboyant theatrical t perforp mances. m
By 1904, despite his inheritance and a income, Paget P had accumulated debts of £544,000 £ (£50m in 2014) 2 and was declared bankrupt.
After his death, the “Great Anglesey Sale” took place, where around 17,000 lots were sold.
The 5th Marquess’ story has seen a resurgence in recent years, appearing on the National Trust’s magazine front cover last year.
His history, or lack of it, inspired Anglesey-born writer and performer Seiriol Cwyfan Davies to create the Pictures: NATIONAL TRUST award-winning musical, How To Win Against History.
The play has been performed to audiences throughout the UK and a video from one performance will also be shown as part of the exhibition room in the near future.
Mr Davies said: “This is such a fun discovery, and amazing to see Marquis V in a bit more of a relaxed state than we’re used to.
“It’s a heck of a lot more tangible than the spectral staged shots that form the bulk of what is at Plas Newydd of him, and it’s perfect timing to find them as he’s welcomed back into the bosom of the house.” ● The new exhibition at Plas Newydd is open daily, between 11am and 5pm.
● Some of the long-unseen snaps of Cyril Henry Paget – The 5th Marquess of Anglesey