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The Judley Bequest

A once remarkable collection

Today, while a complete inventory of Judley Hall is yet to be compiled, it is more a repository of heirloom detritus rather than the objects and furnishings found at a perhaps more eminent country house. But we should not assume that Judley Hall has always been a poor cousin to the Chatsworths, the Castle Howards, et cetera, for if one delves into the archives, there is evidence of a much grander state of affairs. This is a short survey of the Judley Bequest, and a more detailed consideration can be found in the accompanying pamphlet from the Imaginative Press.

The Devonshire Table

While a fine example of 18th century design, this is the sort of table which would have resided in many entrance halls and reception rooms, with its colourful scagliola top and elegant gilded legs. Such a decorative piece seems out-of-place at Judley Hall, where the remaining furniture is very much built for function in solid oak. It was a wedding present given to Ambrose Judley on his marriage in 1806.

Needlework Hanging

This small panel was among the personal effects abandoned by Mary Stuart in her flight from England to Scotland in May 1568. She spent the night at Ridley Abbey near Angarth, and having procured her boat passage, had to leave behind a large hamper which was either unwanted or too heavy for the vessel. In 1865, the Bishop of Newcastle recognised the panel, which was being used as part of a small cushion, and suggested it be reunited with the rest of the Marian tapestries.

Department Store Napkin

This is an 20th century copy of a traditional Flemish-woven napkin. It comes from a set which Margaret Bradley (former housekeeper at Judley Hall) bought at the John Lewis department store in Edinburgh in 1987. It seems to have been confused with one of the so-called 'Judley Napkins', which were a set of 17th century linen damask napkins found unused in an attic in 1989. The Judley Napkins were in 2001 given to a charity shop in Angarth and are believed to be still on sale.

Tile Fragment

This piece of carved earthenware is originally from the tomb of Buyanquil Khan, in the city of Bukhara (modern day Uzbekistan). From a description of a visit in My Travels amongs the Turk by Tertius Judley (1823-1882), it seems likely that this is the tile fragment which Tertius traded for a portrait of Queen Victoria. For many years it could be found on the mantelpiece in the Chinese Drawing Room.

The Golden Legend

Published by the eponymous Wynkyn de Worde, this is one of the first printed editions of the Golden Legend, a medieval encyclopedia of saint's lives. This copy was one of the few objects to survive the destruction of Judley Abbey, a small Benedictine monastery, during the English Reformation. Little remains of Judley Abbey but it provided the site in 1693 for the erection of the modern-day Judley Hall.

Statue of a King

While there is a Royal Hotel in Angarth, there is no record of a member of the royal family staying in one of its four bedrooms. In the early 20th century, Irene Judley (one of the first members of the family to go to university) began writing her Depictions of the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. At the time of her death, she had amassed a small collection of plaster casts of royal sculpture, but her book remained unfinished.

Window Grille

From the architectural records of the 1835 remodelling of Judley Hall, there is no mention of window grilles, and this object seems more suited for an urban environment. Initial research suggests it may have been used as a barbecue grill in the 1970s before being rescued by a visiting metalwork expert.

Jacobite Fireback

One of the earliest known fittings from Judley Hall, this 17th century fireback has never been used. It bears the coat-of-arms of the family, and was made at a time of unprecedented hot weather in the Western Borderlands known as the Great Sweat. Dendrochronological analysis of the local woodland supports this theory, as for three years no fires were lit at Judley Hall. By the time of colder weather, the fireback had been long forgotten in the Jacobite Ballroom (itself remodelled in the Regency period) where it rested under a floorboard for several centuries.

Stolen Salmon

One of a set of heraldic beasts commissioned by Thomas Dacre (1467-1525), of Naworth Castle. In 1644, while dining with Edward Dacre, Richard Judley declared the salmon to be incorrectly carved, and later secretly took it away with him. Such a theft was later attributed to the Parliamentary forces who occupied Naworth for several years. From several accounts of visits to Judley Hall in the 18th century, it is clear that the dolphin resided in one of the larger children's bedrooms.

Richard's Wardrobe

This substantial piece of furniture in the Norman revival style, imitates a doorway but is merely a rather solid place for keeping ones clothes. For many years it was kept in the basement of Judley Hall, and (with its back removed) acted as a doorway leading to the passage to the family tombs. Such alterations were restored when the piece was sold in 1913.