Fascinating discoveries

The Countess of Derby features in Tatler's March 2023 issue and talks about the amazing discoveries that have been uncovered at Knowsley Hall over the years.

Hidden Gems

The Countess of Derby features in Tatler’s March 2023 issue and talks about how during lockdown, the handwritten travel journals of the 14th Earl of Derby were discovered in the Library at Knowsley Hall. Now they’ve been published after 200 years, the Countess of Derby has been retracing the steps of the three-times prime minster’s grand tour around Europe.

Over the years there have been amazing discoveries of some precious items found in Knowsley Hall.  In 2012 a hoard of 670 mostly Roman imperial coins were discovered in the muniment room at Knowsley Hall.  In 2019 in the vaults at Knowsley Hall there was the amazing discovery of the Bosworth Horn, a drinking vessel carved from a bull’s horn from 1506.  A 17th century Old Master painting was also found in a brown paper bag stuffed behind a wardrobe in a staff bedroom!

The most recent discovery was during lockdown when the diaries of Edward Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby, were found by the curator, Dr Stephen Lloyd.  Six little faded notebooks, all filled with faded handwriting in a mixture of English, Italian and Latin.  These unknown travel journals were from his early 19th century grand tour of Europe between 1820-1822, accomplished on horseback over 18 months, at the age of 21.  As there were no planes, trains or cars in those days, the young earl rode all the from Knowsley to Naples and back again on horseback.

A Grand Tour

After being gripped by the 14th Earls travel journals, the Countess of Derby set herself the task of discovering his legacy with the help of the late Professor Angus Hawkins, the Oxford academic and author of The Forgotten Prime Minster – the Earl’s biography.  She decided to follow his footsteps of the 14th Earl and embarked on a grand tour of Europe.  Over a course of a year, the countess spent time visiting the same places the young earl had visited including Florence, Lake Como, Milan.

The Countess of Derby is planning to follow up this book with the re-publication of the 14th Earl’s second set of travel diaries which he wrote in 1824 – 1825 of his extensive tour of North America.  His American journals has been called Making of the Man.  During his tour of the Deep South and on plantations he saw how enslaved Africans were treated to his horror.  Upon his return from his travels, he put into action all he had seen and learnt and decided to enter politics.  He became Secretary State of War (1833-34) which led him to becoming prime minster three times.  He also pushed through Parliament legislation abolishing slavery in British colonies. The countess will be tracing the steps of the young earl yet again and going down the Mississippi river to visit New Orleans, just like he had done all those 200 years ago.

A Grand Tour Journal 1820-22 by Edward G Stanley, edited by Angus Hawkins is available to purchase online by Fronthill Media.

Learn more about the amazing discoveries made at Knowsley Hall by tuning into The Countess of Derby’s mini podcast series. The seven episodes uncover the secrets of Knowsley Hall and explore the fascinating lives of the Earls and Countesses of Derby and can be listened to here.

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