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Cecil Chubb: The Man Who Bought Stonehenge

Cecil Chubb: The Man Who Bought Stonehenge


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Stonehenge is arguably the best known prehistoric monument in England, and perhaps even in the world. Today, this ancient monument is under the care of English Heritage, a registered charity that manages over 400 of England’s historic buildings, monuments, and sites. This has not always been the case, as this renowned monument was once in private hands. This changed, however, when Sir Cecil Herbert Edward Chubb bought Stonehenge, and later passed it into public ownership via a deed of gift. It was due to this gesture that Chubb was rewarded with the title of 1 st Baronet of Stonehenge.

Sir Cecil Chubb in May 1926 on board RMS Aquitania.

Cecil Chubb was born in 1876 in the village of Shrewton, not far from Stonehenge. His father was the saddler and harness-maker of the village, and from such humble origins, Chubb made his way up the social ladder, and eventually became a barrister.

In the meantime, Stonehenge had been owned by the Antrobus family since the early 1800s. In the early months of the First World War, the heir to the Antrobus Baronetcy was killed in Belgium. In 1915, Sir Edmund Antrobus, the 4 th Baronet, and a colonel in the Coldstream Guards, died as well, and as he did not have any surviving male offspring, the baronetcy passed on to his younger brother. The new baronet put most of the family’s Amesbury Abbey estate in Wiltshire on the market for sale, either as a whole or in lots. One of these lots was Stonehenge, with 30 acres of adjoining downland.

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In 1915, the historic site of Stonehenge could have been yours for less than $10,000. (Image: Country Life Magazine )

On the 21 st of September 1915, an auction took place in the New Theatre in Salisbury. In the auction catalogue, Stonehenge, assigned the name ‘Lot 15’, was described as a “place of sanctity dedicated to the observation or adoration of the sun”. Bidding began at £5000, and rose rapidly to £6000, after which it stopped. The auctioneer, Sir Howard Frank, was not at all impressed, and voiced his disappointment over the poor bidding. Eventually, Lot 15 was sold for a sum of £6600 ($10000) (this amount has been estimated to be around £680000 or $962000 in today’s money). The man who bought this lot was none other than Cecil Chubb, who had by then amassed a fortune from his career.

According to popular legend, Cecil Chubb was sent by his wife, Mary Chubb, to the auction to purchase a set of curtains. According to some accounts, it was chairs that Mary wanted her husband to buy. In any case, Cecil had bought Stonehenge for his wife as a birthday present. Mary, unfortunately, was not too impressed with what her husband had done. It has also been speculated that apart from purchasing Stonehenge out of love for his wife, Cecil was also motivated to make the purchase for more patriotic reasons. One of the rumours is that Cecil had bought Stonehenge to prevent it from falling into the hands of rich Americans who were said to be setting their sights on antiquities everywhere.

Cecil and Mary Chubb, the last private owners of Stonehenge. (Image: George Grantham Bain/Library of Congress)

It was on the 26 th of October 1918, just about two weeks before the end of the First World War, that Cecil passed the ancient monument into public ownership via a deed of gift. There were, however, two conditions attached to this donation. The first being that locals should be given free entry to the site, whilst all others be charged an entrance fee of less than one shilling per visit. Today, locals may still enter the site for free, though a ticket for an adult would cost £17.50 ($25).

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Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain UK. Circa 1920. Image: SDASM Archives

Cecil’s generous act earned him the title of 1 st Baronet of Stonehenge a year later. A coat of arms was made for Cecil, on which were a trilithon, and the motto ‘Saxis Condita’ (which means ‘Founded on the stones’) both of which are references to Stonehenge. When Cecil died in 1934, he was succeeded by his son, Sir John Cecil. The 2 nd Baronet, however, died in 1957 without leaving an heir, thus bringing the baronetcy to an end.


The man who bought Stonehenge - and then gave it away

Today Stonehenge is England's most important monument, but 100 years ago it was up for sale. The man who bought it helped seal its fate.

Standing on Salisbury Plain, its stones visible from afar, Stonehenge has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1986 and attracts a million visitors a year.

So it's strange to think that England's most significant monument was once bought by a barrister as a present to his wife. Or so one theory goes. Another is that he feared a rich American might take it.

Whatever his motivation, 100 years ago, on 21 September 1915, Cecil Chubb paid £6,600 for the monument at an auction in Salisbury, Wiltshire. It happened, he said, "on a whim".

Chubb's wife Mary was reportedly less than grateful for the romantic gesture, possibly because the price equated to as much as £680,000 in today's money. "It's said that Mary wanted Cecil to buy a set of curtains at the auction," says Stonehenge's curator, Heather Sebire. "And he came back with something rather different."

On 26 October 1918, 16 days before the Armistice ended World War One, Chubb passed Stonehenge into public ownership, via a deed of gift .

The next year Prime Minister David Lloyd George recognised his generosity with a title, Chubb becoming Sir Cecil Chubb, First Baronet of Stonehenge.

To mark this Chubb had a coat of arms made up, bearing a silver lion's leg grasping two branches of mistletoe - a plant regarded as sacred by the druids who (people believed) worshipped at Stonehenge. The coat of arms bore the motto "Saxis Condita", meaning "Founded on the stones".

Chubb had come from humble origins. Born in 1876, his father was a saddler and harness-maker in the village of Shrewton, a few miles from Stonehenge.

He attended a grammar school, working his way, via a stint as a student teacher, to Cambridge University. He became a barrister and amassed a considerable fortune.

Chubb didn't forget his roots when he gave Stonehenge away. His deed of gift stipulated the public shouldn't pay "a sum exceeding one shilling" per visit. A separate agreement with the parish council said local people should get in for nothing.


Why did Cecil Chubb give Stonehenge away?

The basic tale of how Stonehenge came to be bought at auction by local barrister Cecil Chubb in 1915 is fairly well known. He reportedly went to the sale looking for some chairs (or perhaps curtains, or maybe a present for his wife Mary - the stories vary) and bought Stonehenge on a whim for ٤,600.

The full saga is somewhat more complex.

The death in action in WW1 of the young Edmund Antrobus on 24th October 1914 and the subsequent death of his father Sir Edmund Antrobus (4th Bt.) on 11th February 1915, had meant that ownership of the extensive Amesbury Abbet Estate - including Stonehenge - had fallen to the 4th Baronet's brother Sir Cosmo Antrobus.

Sir Cosmo promptly put it up for sale, with advertisements appearing in several places including Country Life magazine.

Advertisement for the Amesbury Abbey Estate sale in the Sept. 18th 1915 edition of Country Life magazine

Shortly thereafter, on the 26th October 1918, a Deed of Gift was signed, sealed and delivered at a ceremony at Stonehenge and the monument's half a millennium in private ownership came to an end.


100 years ago today a doting husband bought Stonehenge for his wife

On Sept. 21, 1915, a British barrister named Cecil Chubb went to an auction in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He did not come home with the item his wife had requested. Rather, on a whim, he bought Stonehenge.

In a response many spouses might appreciate, or at least recognize, Mary Chubb was not happy.

The megalith cost her husband £6,000 (£680,000 today).

“It’s said that Mary wanted Cecil to buy a set of curtains at the auction,” Stonehenge’s curator, Heather Sebire, told the BBC magazine. “And he came back with something rather different.” (The other rumor is that Chubb bought the prehistoric site to keep it out of the hands of rich Americans who were eyeing antiquities everywhere.)

UNESCO calls Stonehenge the “most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world,” and it has been on the world heritage list since 1986.

According to its caretakers at English Heritage, the first monument was built more than 5,000 years ago. The site’s iconic, cultish-looking semi-circle was erected around 2,500 BC.

Stonehenge had been in private hands since the middle ages and controlled by the Antrobus family since the early 1800s. When the heir to the estate died in World War I, it was put up at auction.

Chubb didn’t keep it for long. He gave it to the government in 1918 with a stipulation that the public not pay “a sum exceeding one shilling” per visit. He wanted locals to get in for free. Today it costs £14.50 ($22.50) for adults, and locals still get a free pass.

A year after Chubb’s whimsical purchase, prime minister David Lloyd George awarded him with a title. He became Sir Cecil Chubb, First Baronet of Stonehenge. Chubb’s son died in 1957. With no heir, the baronetcy ended there.


Cecil Chubb: the Freemason who bought Stonehenge

Considering its status as a World Heritage Site, it is strange to reflect that until 1918 Stonehenge was private property. Interest in it was stimulated in the early 1700s through the writings of an early Freemason, Dr William Stukeley, a clergyman and archaeologist, whose voluminous manuscripts are now preserved in the British Library and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. The connection between Stonehenge and the druids is usually ascribed to Stukeley, who not only made a study of the order but was one of those responsible for its revival in 1717.

By 1800 Stonehenge was owned by the Antrobus family, but when the heir to the baronetcy was killed in action in 1915, the family decided to sell the stone circle and the surrounding 35 acres of land at public auction.

The sale took place at the new theatre in Salisbury on 21 September 1915. The purchaser was Cecil Chubb, who paid £6,600 (about £460,000 in modern terms) for the site. Family legend has it that he had gone to the auction to buy some chairs but having lived near Stonehenge for much of his life, decided to make the purchase to save it from a foreign buyer. Chubb bought the landmark as a gift for his wife, for which he was apparently not thanked.

In 1918, knowing that there had been government interest in the stone circle, Chubb contacted what was then the Office of Works and offered to give the site to the nation as a gift. He had three provisos to his bequest: that Salisbury residents should continue to have free access to it that the entry charge should never be more than a shilling and that no building should be erected within 400 yards of the ancient stones themselves.

The government accepted the gift with alacrity, and to mark his generosity, created a baronetcy: in 1919, Chubb took the title Sir Cecil Chubb, Baronet of Stonehenge in the County of Wiltshire.

Cecil Herbert Edward Chubb came from modest beginnings. Born in 1876 in the village of Shrewton, Wiltshire, where his father was the saddler and harness-maker, he was educated at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. For a short period he was a teacher at the school before going for training at St Mark’s College in London. From there he went to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he earned a first in natural sciences in 1904 followed by a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1905. Returning to London, he was called to the Bar from Middle Temple and began a successful law practice.

In 1902 Chubb married Mary Finch, and when her uncle died in 1910, she inherited the Fisherton House Asylum psychiatric hospital near Salisbury. Chubb gave up law and moved back to Salisbury to run the asylum, which was one of the largest in the country.

Chubb made a great success of the asylum and introduced innovative treatments to make the patients’ lives easier and return them to their families. Fisherton House also gave great service to military casualties affected by the horrors of trench warfare, to the extent that Chubb used his own home, Bemerton Lodge, as an overflow for the main asylum. It became a limited company in 1924 and part of the National Health Service in 1954.

Chubb was also an astute investor, particularly in medical laboratories producing medications to aid the mentally ill. His careful financial management made him a rich man, enabling him to buy Stonehenge almost on a whim. He developed his own estate, keeping a notable breed of shorthorn cattle and had a number of very successful racehorses. In civic life, he served for many years on Salisbury City Council and was a Justice of the Peace.

Chubb came into Freemasonry in Salisbury, where he was made a mason in Lodge Elias de Derham, No. 586, on 26 October 1905, taking his second and third degrees in the two following months. He never sought office in the lodge or took part in any of the other orders of Freemasonry, being content to enjoy the company of his fellow lodge members as a backbencher and remaining a subscribing member of the lodge until his death.

There have been attempts to link Freemasonry with both the stone circle at Stonehenge and the druids who were reputed to have worshipped there. In reality the only true masonic connections are the figures of Stukeley, who did so much to bring Stonehenge to public notice, and Chubb, who had so much love for the stone circle that he bought and presented it to the nation so that it would be preserved as a part of our national heritage for all time.

‘Family legend has it that Chubb had only gone to the auction to buy some chairs.’

Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated and only surviving lintelled stone circle in the world:

• In its earliest form, the monument was a burial site. It is the largest late Neolithic cemetery in the British Isles.

• Two types of stone were used in its construction, both of which were transported over very long distances. The larger sarsens probably came from the Marlborough Downs 19 miles to the north, with the smaller bluestones coming from the Preseli Hills, more than 150 miles away.

• The stones were erected using precisely interlocking joints, unseen at any other prehistoric monument.


Cecil Chubb: the Freemason who bought Stonehenge

Considering its status as a World Heritage Site, it is strange to reflect that until 1918 Stonehenge was private property. Interest in it was stimulated in the early 1700s through the writings of an early Freemason, Dr William Stukeley, a clergyman and archaeologist, whose voluminous manuscripts are now preserved in the British Library and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. The connection between Stonehenge and the druids is usually ascribed to Stukeley, who not only made a study of the order but was one of those responsible for its revival in 1717.

By 1800 Stonehenge was owned by the Antrobus family, but when the heir to the baronetcy was killed in action in 1915, the family decided to sell the stone circle and the surrounding 35 acres of land at public auction.

The sale took place at the new theatre in Salisbury on 21 September 1915. The purchaser was Cecil Chubb, who paid £6,600 (about £460,000 in modern terms) for the site. Family legend has it that he had gone to the auction to buy some chairs but having lived near Stonehenge for much of his life, decided to make the purchase to save it from a foreign buyer. Chubb bought the landmark as a gift for his wife, for which he was apparently not thanked.

In 1918, knowing that there had been government interest in the stone circle, Chubb contacted what was then the Office of Works and offered to give the site to the nation as a gift. He had three provisos to his bequest: that Salisbury residents should continue to have free access to it that the entry charge should never be more than a shilling and that no building should be erected within 400 yards of the ancient stones themselves.

The government accepted the gift with alacrity, and to mark his generosity, created a baronetcy: in 1919, Chubb took the title Sir Cecil Chubb, Baronet of Stonehenge in the County of Wiltshire.

Cecil Herbert Edward Chubb came from modest beginnings. Born in 1876 in the village of Shrewton, Wiltshire, where his father was the saddler and harness-maker, he was educated at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. For a short period he was a teacher at the school before going for training at St Mark’s College in London. From there he went to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he earned a first in natural sciences in 1904 followed by a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1905. Returning to London, he was called to the Bar from Middle Temple and began a successful law practice.

In 1902 Chubb married Mary Finch, and when her uncle died in 1910, she inherited the Fisherton House Asylum psychiatric hospital near Salisbury. Chubb gave up law and moved back to Salisbury to run the asylum, which was one of the largest in the country.

Chubb made a great success of the asylum and introduced innovative treatments to make the patients’ lives easier and return them to their families. Fisherton House also gave great service to military casualties affected by the horrors of trench warfare, to the extent that Chubb used his own home, Bemerton Lodge, as an overflow for the main asylum. It became a limited company in 1924 and part of the National Health Service in 1954.

Chubb was also an astute investor, particularly in medical laboratories producing medications to aid the mentally ill. His careful financial management made him a rich man, enabling him to buy Stonehenge almost on a whim. He developed his own estate, keeping a notable breed of shorthorn cattle and had a number of very successful racehorses. In civic life, he served for many years on Salisbury City Council and was a Justice of the Peace.

Chubb came into Freemasonry in Salisbury, where he was made a mason in Lodge Elias de Derham, No. 586, on 26 October 1905, taking his second and third degrees in the two following months. He never sought office in the lodge or took part in any of the other orders of Freemasonry, being content to enjoy the company of his fellow lodge members as a backbencher and remaining a subscribing member of the lodge until his death.

There have been attempts to link Freemasonry with both the stone circle at Stonehenge and the druids who were reputed to have worshipped there. In reality the only true masonic connections are the figures of Stukeley, who did so much to bring Stonehenge to public notice, and Chubb, who had so much love for the stone circle that he bought and presented it to the nation so that it would be preserved as a part of our national heritage for all time.

‘Family legend has it that Chubb had only gone to the auction to buy some chairs.’

Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated and only surviving lintelled stone circle in the world:

• In its earliest form, the monument was a burial site. It is the largest late Neolithic cemetery in the British Isles.

• Two types of stone were used in its construction, both of which were transported over very long distances. The larger sarsens probably came from the Marlborough Downs 19 miles to the north, with the smaller bluestones coming from the Preseli Hills, more than 150 miles away.

• The stones were erected using precisely interlocking joints, unseen at any other prehistoric monument.


The story of Stonehenge

  • Large-scale human activity first seen around site around 7000 BC first large earthwork was built around 3100 BC and second stage of construction around 2150 BC
  • Third stage happened 150 years or so later, with the arrival of sandstones, probably from north Wiltshire, the largest weighing 50 tonnes – men dragged stones using sledges and leather ropes
  • Stones were arranged into the present horseshoe and circle shape around 1500 BC
  • Purpose of Stonehenge remains mystery – suggestions include royal burial ground, temple, site for human sacrifices, or building capable of predicting eclipses
  • Site is aligned so sun shines through to particular point on summer and winter solstices, but no academic consensus over why prehistoric Britons thought this important

Now run by English Heritage, some 30,000 people living near Stonehenge still get free entry. But, for outsiders, an adult’s ticket is £14.50. English Heritage argues that, given wage inflation over the past century, it costs less in real terms today than it did then.

The reason Stonehenge and a 30-acre triangle of adjoining land came on to the market in 1915 was the death of Sir Edmund Antrobus, the only male heir of the family who had owned it since the 1820s. A lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, he had been killed in Kruiseik, Belgium, in October 1914, during one of the first battles of World War One.

Perhaps this sad tale, as much as love for Mary or a desire to be rewarded for good works, motivated Chubb to buy Stonehenge.

“I think there must have been a strong local element in Chubb’s thinking, as he was from nearby,” says Sebire. “It’s not certain that he knew the Antrobus family, but he’s likely to have known of them.”

Ahead of the auction, there was speculation that a wealthy foreigner might buy Stonehenge, dismantle it and transport it abroad, as happened to London Bridge more than 50 years later, when it was shipped to Arizona.

In its preview story, the Daily Telegraph noted that the news of Stonehenge’s sale was “enough to rouse the envy of all American millionaires who are bitten by the craze for acquiring antiques”. Preventing this might have influenced Chubb’s purchase.

“Cecil Chubb did a great thing in trying to return Stonehenge to the people and to ensure a legacy of free and unfettered access,” says Frank Somers, of Stonehenge and Amesbury Druids. “I do not believe that this has been honoured by the authorities who have taken upon themselves the mantle of its guardians.”

Image copyright Salisburyareaplaques/Flickr Image caption A plaque commemorates Sir Cecil’s birthplace, along with his mistletoe-sporting coat of arms

Stonehenge had been privately owned since being confiscated from a nearby abbey during Henry VIII’s reign. But by the time of Chubb’s involvement, the duty of preservation was being more keenly felt.

The Ancient Monuments Act of 1913 allowed for the first time the compulsory purchase of historic sites. As World War One was coming to a close, officials would have more time to implement it. Stonehenge was an obvious candidate. In Chubb’s mind it might have become a “liability”, says Sebire. Even so, he gave it away rather than sell it.

Chubb died in 1934. His son, Sir John Chubb, died in 1957, leaving no heir, meaning the baronetcy ended there.


The story of Stonehenge

  • Large-scale human activity first seen around site around 7000 BC first large earthwork was built around 3100 BC and second stage of construction around 2150 BC
  • Third stage happened 150 years or so later, with the arrival of sandstones, probably from north Wiltshire, the largest weighing 50 tonnes - men dragged stones using sledges and leather ropes
  • Stones were arranged into the present horseshoe and circle shape around 1500 BC
  • Purpose of Stonehenge remains mystery - suggestions include royal burial ground, temple, site for human sacrifices, or building capable of predicting eclipses
  • Site is aligned so sun shines through to particular point on summer and winter solstices, but no academic consensus over why prehistoric Britons thought this important

Now run by English Heritage, some 30,000 people living near Stonehenge still get free entry. But, for outsiders, an adult's ticket is £14.50. English Heritage argues that, given wage inflation over the past century, it costs less in real terms today than it did then.

The reason Stonehenge and a 30-acre triangle of adjoining land came on to the market in 1915 was the death of Sir Edmund Antrobus, the only male heir of the family who had owned it since the 1820s. A lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, he had been killed in Kruiseik, Belgium, in October 1914, during one of the first battles of World War One.

Perhaps this sad tale, as much as love for Mary or a desire to be rewarded for good works, motivated Chubb to buy Stonehenge.

"I think there must have been a strong local element in Chubb's thinking, as he was from nearby," says Sebire. "It's not certain that he knew the Antrobus family, but he's likely to have known of them."

Ahead of the auction, there was speculation that a wealthy foreigner might buy Stonehenge, dismantle it and transport it abroad, as happened to London Bridge more than 50 years later, when it was shipped to Arizona.

In its preview story, the Daily Telegraph noted that the news of Stonehenge's sale was "enough to rouse the envy of all American millionaires who are bitten by the craze for acquiring antiques". Preventing this might have influenced Chubb's purchase.

"Cecil Chubb did a great thing in trying to return Stonehenge to the people and to ensure a legacy of free and unfettered access," says Frank Somers, of Stonehenge and Amesbury Druids. "I do not believe that this has been honoured by the authorities who have taken upon themselves the mantle of its guardians."

Stonehenge had been privately owned since being confiscated from a nearby abbey during Henry VIII's reign. But by the time of Chubb's involvement, the duty of preservation was being more keenly felt.

The Ancient Monuments Act of 1913 allowed for the first time the compulsory purchase of historic sites. As World War One was coming to a close, officials would have more time to implement it. Stonehenge was an obvious candidate. In Chubb's mind it might have become a "liability", says Sebire. Even so, he gave it away rather than sell it.

Chubb died in 1934. His son, Sir John Chubb, died in 1957, leaving no heir, meaning the baronetcy ended there.

Few today have heard of Sir Cecil Chubb, but there is a plaque on the house where he was born and grew up in Shrewton.

The area around Stonehenge is undergoing a £27m transformation. The A344 nearby has closed and the visitor centre and car park have been moved away from the stones. The fence surrounding the ruins is being pulled down.

In his gift of deed, Chubb asked for the site to remain as open as possible. A hundred years after he bought it, this appears to be happening.

But the druids say more needs to be done. "Families used to picnic at Stonehenge," says Somers. "Lovers met there beneath a full moon. Children would touch the ancient stones in wonder. Druids would gather to lead public and local events."

"Stonehenge for her part would embrace, inspire and nurture all those who visited with good intent," he adds. "Stonehenge has not lost her integrity but perhaps, in the modern age where money rules over everything, we have."

The stones remain in their majesty, any debate about their future being over access rather than preservation.

"I've been here when it's quiet, at different times of year," says Sebire. "It never ceases to impress. No one can really say why Chubb did what he did. You might say it's as mysterious as Stonehenge itself."


Honey! I’ve Bought Stonehenge by Accident…

Cecil Chubb had clear instructions from his wife. Under no circumstances was he to return home with any useless object that’ll clutter the dining room.

“We need chairs, a table, maybe a nice rug or two,” Mrs. Chubb told her husband. Or so the story goes.

Imagine sitting at the auction and you get outbid with every single item. You’ll be going home to an earful from the missus if you’re empty-handed. Her indoors wouldn’t be too pleased and it’ll most likely be the couch for you. Chubb was getting hot under the collar. His finger was beginning to twitch. His palms were all sweaty as he fingered the card bearing his number.

“SOLD!” stated the auctioneer as another household item of furniture went to another buyer not named Chubb. It was now or never. He needed a win. The room bristled with excitement as Lot 15 came up for sale.

The auctioneer, Sir Howard Frank, noted how the sellers, Royal Archaeological Society, had underplayed the description. Government men in stuffy attire were not known for their creative descriptions of national importance. Even so, “Stonehenge, together with about 30 acres 2 rods 37 perches of the adjoining downland,” could barely do justice to such a magnificent historical site.

Frank began the bidding at £5,000. Again, there was much shuffling of paper and a few coughs but the room remained eerily silent. “Surely someone will offer me £5,000,” he urged. It was all very awkward.

Chubb glanced around the room to see who was making the first bid. A gentleman in the stalls had raised his hand and a £100 was on the table. The bids swiftly followed. Two men competing to own a slice of history carved by then-unknown ancestors. The back and forth rally paused at £6000. Five bids each.

The transcript from the auction reads like a piece of theatre as an astounded Frank implores the wealthy to reach deep into their pockets. Times were tough but surely the gentry had a few quid lying around for a rainy day?

‘“Gentlemen,” he observed quietly, “it is impossible to value Stonehenge. Surely £6,000 is poor bidding, but if no one bids me anymore, I shall set it at this price. Will no one give me any more than £6,000 for Stonehenge?”’ Source-Transcript from auction.

Surprise rippled through the crowd. On Franks urging, the bidding resumed. Another £100 from the stalls. A further £200 from a hand raised. Three more bids and the auction screeched to a halt. The hammer was raised…and down it came. BANG! SOLD!

Everybody turned around trying to ascertain who might be the buyer. Was it the Crown? Or, as rumored, a rich heiress from overseas? More coughs as a clerk made his way through the seated crowd. A card was handed back to him and he passed that onto Sir Howard Frank who announced, amid applause, that the purchaser was Mr. C.H.E. Chubb of Bemerton, Salisbury.

Chubb squirmed in his chair knowing that this may well be his biggest folly and that his wife was going to ‘kill him’. He had failed to purchase a single chair or household item and instead was going home with a rather large monument to nature.

This,” thought Chubb, “will not sit well on the mantlepiece.

Chubb would later claim that he purchased Stonehenge because a local man should be the owner and not some wealthy collector from overseas.

‘In its preview story, the Daily Telegraph noted that the news of Stonehenge’s sale was “enough to rouse the envy of all American millionaires who are bitten by the craze for acquiring antiques”’ Source The BBC

His wife simply claimed he panicked and that he’s ever-so-excitable when he panics. Why on earth would he think that spending £680,000 (in today's figures) was a romantic gesture when all she wanted was some net curtains?

Naturally, his wife, Mary, hated it. For three long years, she put up with him bleating on about his large edifice. Three years she had suffered hearing from neighbors about how Cecil wasted his money on a pile of rocks.

She urged him, for the good of the nation, to bequeath Stonehenge to the people of Briton. On October 26th, 1918, her wish came true. Chubb, aka Viscount Stonehenge, as the locals called him, handed over the monument to the Crown. In return, Chubb received a knighthood.

Chubb had some conditions though. No local was ever to be charged for entry and that the entrance fee should never be more than a shilling.

And so, Stonehenge, unlike London Bridge, was never dismantled by some wealthy American and reassembled in a desert somewhere in Arizona. Thanks to Chubb, one of Britain’s oldest monuments remains accessible to the public.


The Man Who Bought Stonehenge At Auction

Stonehenge has passed through many hands in its 5,000-year history, but in 1915, it became the property of Cecil Chubb.

After being seized from an Abby during the reign of Henry VIII, Stonehenge had passed from private owner to private owner. In 1914, the owner was killed in the early days of World War I. As his property went to auction, rumors abounded as to who would buy Stonehenge.

Many thought an American millionaire would buy the stones and have them shipped to America, but Cecil Chubb emerged the victor, paying £6,600.

In today’s dollars, the purchase was worth $875,000!

Mysteries of Stonehenge

Believe it or not, the 40-ton stones used to make Stonehenge were quarried 20 miles away and were moved there without the benefit of wheeled equipment.

Some of the stones are 13-feet high, and weigh over 25 tons! People often take the “impossible” size to mean some supernatural source must have helped assemble them, but researchers have proven the stones could have been moved with simple pulleys and logs.

Believed to be around 5,000 years old, there are many theories as to Stonehenge’s purpose. Truthfully it’s been used for many different things in its long history. Archaeologists know that the site was a place of burial and healing even before the stones were erected. Since then, numerous groups have worshiped and practiced rituals at the site.

An interesting feature of the stones is that they arranged so that light shines through them during the summer and winter solstices.

Cecil Chubb

No one is quite sure why Chubb decided to buy the land. He claims to have bought it on a whim, and as a gift for his wife. (A gift she is rumored to have not appreciated.)

Many people think, however, that he wanted to secure it against American interests. After holding it just two years, he donated the land to the public, with the stipulation people be able to easily visit the monolith.

To honor his donation, Chubb was made a baronet by the British crown. His residence was visited frequently by King George VI, who liked the seclusion of the Chubb’s estate.

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