The World of Disney: From Antiquarianism to Archaeology

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Dr John Disney (1779-1857) was the benefactor of the first chair in archaeology at a British university. He also donated his major collection of sculpture to the University of Cambridge that continues 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. One of the chapel’s major sponsors 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.
Dr Disney helped to establish the Chelmsford Philosophical Society, and this organisation sponsored the town’s first museum in 1843. This event coincided with the creation of county-based archaeological societies. Disney was a keen supporter of the Essex Archaeological Society in 1852, and helped to encourage the exploration of the Roman colony at Colchester. Disney published a substantial volume of his collection of classical sculpture, bronzes and Greek vases as the Museum Disneianum (1846).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages142
ISBN (Print)9781789698275
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2020

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