Monday, March 03, 2014

Hughendon Manor, the home of Benjamin Disraeli

Last autumn, during a break from the AGM, the Institute organised a trip to Hughendon Manor, the home of Benjamin Disraeli and now a shrine to the great man.

Above:  Benjamin Disraeli came from nowhere, and was an outsider, but set himself up as an English country gentleman (although his manor house was built of factory-made red brick, not aristocratic stone).  This aspiring (or aping if you prefer) of the gentry class was more than just vanity.  Hughendon Manor should be seen as a tangible example of his philosophy - a seemingly unchanging world where modernity was veiled in traditional forms, and where aspiration was open to all who were prepared to conform - Hughendon Manor was his vision of England.

Above:  Queen Victoria reigned over the dining room, and indeed the whole of Hughendon Manor.  The monarchy was essential to Disraeli's conception of One Nation, providing a means of inclusivity where outsiders were bound with an official golden thread of sentiment and loyalty.  The monarchy also provided a mechanism whereby British prestige was projected onto the world stage.

Above:  photography was allowed in the house, but flash could not be used so this image is a bit blurred.  I was fascinated by the Library and could have spent hours (days even) going through the books.  Virginia Woolf said that a person's collection of books is an extension of their mind.

Above:  manuscript of Disraeli's Sybil in which the One Nation philosophy was first developed (although Douglas Hurd said it was Stanley Baldwin who fully developed the concept).  Is it not amusing that Labour is now advocating a Conservative philosophy?  Or perhaps Ed Miliband sees himself as the heir to Disraeli.

Above:  afterwards we walked about the gardens.  Pausing by a statue of a naked faun Alec Nussbaum talked about reclaiming the One Nation slogan.  The light rain dripped from the end of the stone penis in a way that was unsettling.

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