The Man Who Bought Stonehenge At Auction Instead Of The Curtains He Was Supposed To Buy
A British lawyer went to buy some items to decorate his house on the request of his wife, but came back with something decidedly larger and unexpected
There are few places on earth as instantly recognizable as England’s Stonehenge. The huge prehistoric stone monument in Salisbury has mystified historians and archaeologists through the years as to exactly their true origins. For a lengthy period of time, the landmark was held in private ownership, including a century ago when a man named Cecil Chubb went to an auction at his wife’s behest to buy some curtains and came home instead with the deed to Stonehenge.
Chubb was a successful lawyer from a family of modest means (his father was a saddler), who amassed his own fortune. This was aided by his marriage to Mary Bella Alicia Finch in 1902, who inherited a considerable estate following the death of her uncle Dr. W. Corbin Finch.
In 1915, Stonehenge was privately owned by Sir Cosmo Gordon Antrobus, who had just inherited the property from his recently deceased brother Edmund. Not wanting to bother with it, he almost immediately put it up for auction.
Chubb was intrigued by the sale of the landmark. The day of the auction, his wife asked him to go out to buy curtains (other versions of the story indicate he was to buy chairs for their dining room). He was so concerned that Stonehenge might be bought by a foreign entity, and the stones carried off to unknown soil, that he decided to put in an attempt to buy it for himself.
Ultimately, Chubb won the bidding at 6,600 pounds, which is the rough equivalent of a little under $600,000 in modern value. The approximately 30-acre parcel, which included the 5 acres of Stonehenge, now belonged to him, with no clear idea of what he wanted to do with it.
Stonehenge had been held in private ownership since 1540 when King Henry VIII had forced it be turned over from a Benedictine abbey who had laid claim to it. Starting in 1900, the then current owner fenced the site off and began charging admission for tourists wanting a closer look.