Dr John Disney established the Disney chair of archaeology. The lecture will explore the background to his benefaction. First, how did the Disney family acquire the collection of classical sculpture from Thomas Brand Hollis of the Hyde, near Ingatestone in Essex? Second, how did Disney gain an interest in archaeology?
Some of the sculptural material was derived by Brand Hollis and his friend Thomas Hollis on the Grand Tour during the 1750s. Other pieces, some of modern creation, were acquired by Disney during his visit to Rome in the 1820s. Essex was also linked to early excavations at Colchester on the site of the new county hospital. He was president of the Chelmsford Philosophical Society that had an interest in archaeology. The Society established a museum in the town. After the foundation of the Disney chair of archaeology, Disney helped to form the Essex Archaeological Society along with the first Disney Professor, the Reverend John H. Marsden.