Treasures from the Silver Vault

Woburn Abbey

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Tuesday 13 February 2018


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Sir John Russell, created Earl of Bedford in 1550, was granted Woburn Abbey in 1547 through the will of Henry VIII, and it became the family’s principal seat in the 1620s.  Elevated to a Dukedom in 1694, there have been fifteen Dukes so far and many have left their mark on this remarkable house.

Woburn Abbey contains not only splendid State Rooms but also an amazing series of treasures which we shall have the exclusive opportunity to explore at a time when the house is closed to the public.

One of the most significant private art collections in the world is housed here, as well as exquisite eighteenth century French and English furniture, magnificent silver and gold collections in the underground vaults, and a marvellous range of porcelain with many privately collected items treasured by generations of the Russell family. 

The 6th Duke commissioned Humphry Repton to enhance the gardens at Woburn Abbey in the early nineteenth century and they are currently undergoing redevelopment to Repton’s original design, in time to celebrate his bi-centenary in 2018.

Our Woburn Abbey Study Day sequence continues next February when we return to this spectacular house, this time to look at the superlative collection of silver and silver-gilt  accumulated by the Russell family over the last five centuries.

Truly ‘ducal’ in terms of the range and quality of the objects commissioned, these will include simple pieces for everyday domestic use to lavish centrepieces which graced those extraordinary banquets so beloved by the grandees of the past.

This Study Day will begin with morning coffee, followed by a lecture given by Woburn’s Curator, Matthew Hirst.  After a two-course lunch with wine we separate into two smaller groups - one will have a private tour of the house with Matthew and his assistant; the other will have the great privilege of special access to the stunning silver collection. This will be led by Dr Helen Clifford, a specialist on the decorative arts, who will take us through some of the highlights of the silver collection via a handling session. Both groups will then swop to repeat the two sessions. Afternoon tea is included before departure at the end of what will be a fascinating and privileged day’s activities.

The day is strictly limited to 22 participants. 

  • Included: Morning Coffee, Morning Lecture, Lunch with wine, Connoisseur tour around the House with Woburn's Curator, Silver with Dr Helen Clifford, Afternoon Tea.
  • Not included: Travel to/from Woburn
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