My new biography of Dr John Disney, founder of the John Disney Chair of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and benefactor of the Disney Marbles now displayed at the Fitzwilliam Museum, has been published by Archaeopress.
The family’s origins lay at Norton Disney in Lincolnshire where they had settled after the Norman conquest. Disney’s father, the Reverend John Disney, inherited The Hyde near Ingatestone in Essex from Thomas Brand-Hollis. The house contained the Grand Tour collection formed by Brand-Hollis and Thomas Hollis. The Reverend John Disney had met Brand-Hollis through the Unitarian Essex Street Chapel in London where he had ministered after leaving the Church of England.
John Disney inherited The Hyde from his father and presented much of the collection to the University of Cambridge. The objects were described in his Museum Disneianum. Some of the items can be traced back to his wife, Sophia, or uncle (and father-in-law), Lewis Disney-Ffytche, during their time in Naples after they had been forced to flee Paris during the Revolution. Disney-Ffytche had been the owner of Le Désert de Retz, the pleasure gardens near Paris.
Disney himself helped to establish a new museum in Chelmsford through the Chelmsford Philosophical Society. He was a key member of the Essex Archaeological Society.
1. The Disney family of Lincolnshire
2. The Break with the Church of England
3. Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand
4. The Disney family and Essex
5. The Hyde and its collection
6. Disney and Learned Societies
7. The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge
8. Going for Gold
9. The Disney legacy
The World of Disney: From Antiquarianism to Archaeology (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2020). ISBN 9781789698275.
The Newport Arch forms the northern gateway of the Roman colonia of Lincoln. It is one of the most important pieces of extant Roman architecture in Britain. However it does seem to be vulnerable to lorries. A feature on the excavations at Lincoln appeared in a special number of Current Archaeology (May 1971; Christina Colyer, ‘Lincoln, pp. 67=71), and the cover showed the damage in 1964. The gate has been struck again today.
Local authorities need to restrict access to these important parts of our heritage.
One of the pieces of evidence for the 9th legion stationed in Lincoln comes from the funerary marker of Gaius Saufeius, son of Gaius (RIB 255). The absence of the cognomen should be noted. He died aged 40 and after 22 years of service. He came from Heraclea, in Macedonia.
The tombstone was found in 1865 at the corner of Salthouse Lane. John Parkinson sold it to the British Museum in 1873 (inv. 1873.05-21.1).
The 9th legion appears to have been replaced at Lincoln around AD 71, and then moved north to York.
Among the Latin inscriptions from Lincoln is a limestone tombstone found in 1785 on the north side of the Roman city (RIB 251). It was found to the west of the so-called Newport Arch, the north gate of the original garrison.
It marks the burial of Flavius Helius, a Greek (‘natione Grecus’) who lived for 40 years. The marker was set up by Flavia Ingenua, his wife.
Anthony Birley has suggested that Helius was a trader.
The inscription is now displayed in the Lincoln Museum, although it was previously displayed in the cathedral cloister and then the City and County Museum in Greyfriars.
Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire is in the care of the National Trust. The present brick tower was constructed by Ralph Cromwell, Third Baron Cromwell, in 1434; it was completed in 1446. It has six levels, and from the very top there are clear views over Lincolnshire.
The castle was purchased by Lord Curzon of Kedleston, the former viceroy of India, in 1911 and subsequently given to the National Trust. The castle had faced demolition and the removal of its architectural features for export to the USA after it had been sold in 1910; the case had been a spur to (Sir) Charles Peers in his preparion of the Ancient Monuments Act (1913).
Sir Alfred (William) Clapham (1883-1950) was responsible for at least three guidebooks produced by the Ministry of Works. He was educated at Dulwich College and then worked on the Victoria History of the Counties of England (where (Sir) Charles Peers was architectural editor). In 1912 he joined the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England). (For his life: ODNB.)
He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiqauries in 1913, and served as its President from 1939 to 1944. He was knighted in 1944.
Clapham worked on at least three guides for the Ministry of Works, and all appeared posthumously.
They included the Augustinian Abbey at Thornton in Humberside (and originally Lincolnshire). This appeared in 1951, and from 1954 included a supplement on the monastic buildings by P.K. Baillie Reynolds. Clapham’s guide was published by English Heritage (1989), revised in 2010, and last reprinted in 2012.
Clapham published the 1952 guide to the Benedictine Abbey at Whitby. The abbey had been the subject of clearance and excavation by Peers during the 1920s after it came into State Guardianship. Peers and C.A. Ralegh Radford had published on the Anglo-Saxon origins of the abbey.
Clapham’s third guidebook was on St Augustine’s Abbey at Canterbury (1955). Like Whitby the abbey has Anglo-Saxon origins.