Author: David W. J. Gill. Paperback; 156x234mm; 154 pages; 44 figures. 700 2020 Archaeological Lives . Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781789698275. Epublication ISBN 9781789698282. |
Dr John Disney (1779-1857) was the benefactor of the first chair in archaeology at a British university. He also donated his major collection to the University of Cambridge. The sculptures continue to be displayed in the Fitzwilliam Museum.
The Disney family traced its origins back to the Norman invasion of England, and the family home was at Norton Disney in Lincolnshire. Disney’s father, the Reverend John Disney DD (1746-1816) left the Church of England to become a minister at the Unitarian Essex Street Chapel in London. A major sponsor of the chapel was Thomas Brand-Hollis of The Hyde, Essex, who bequeathed the house and his Grand Tour collection (formed with Thomas Hollis) on his death in 1804 to the Reverend John Disney. Disney inherited part of the classical collection of his uncle and father-in-law Lewis Disney-Ffytche, owner of the 18th century pleasure gardens, Le Désert de Retz, outside Paris. Disney’s brother-in-law was Sir William Hillary, founder of the RNLI. Disney was instrumental in the creation of the Chelmsford Museum through the Chelmsford Philosophical Society, and the formation of the Essex Archaeological Society.
About the Author
Professor David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and Academic Associate in the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage in the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures at the University of East Anglia (UEA). He is a Fellow of the RSA and the Society of Antiquaries. In 2012 he received the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Archaeological Institute of America for his research on cultural property.
'This volume sits somewhat uncomfortably in a series devoted to Archaeological Lives. It concerns the family history of John Disney (1779–1857), who inherited a very important collection of antiquities, some of which he gave to Cambridge University, where he went on to found the premier chair of archaeology in Britain.'—Martin Henig, Journal of the History of Collections, June 2021
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