Horace Walpole's 1st century AD marble Roman eagle, resting on an inscribed ancient Roman marble cinerary altar, at Gosford House.
Earlier Houses: The current house replaced an earlier moated Elizabethan manor house on the same site.
Built / Designed For: The Rev. George Leonard Jenyns, Prebendary of Ely.
House & Family History: Two renowned duchesses of the late 17th century and early 18th centuries came from the Jenyns (Jennings) family: Frances, Duchess of Tyrconnell, and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.
Collections: One of Horace Walpole's most prized possessions, a colossal 1st century AD marble Roman eagle, was in the collection at Bottisham in the 19th century (see photo in "Images" section). The eagle was excavated in 1742 in the Boccapaduli family’s garden, within the precincts of the Baths of Caracalla, in Rome. Cardinal Alessandro Albani brought the discovery of the ancient eagle to the attention of the antiquarian and collector John Chute (of The Vyne, Hampshire), who convinced his friend Horace Walpole to purchase it in 1745. The bird was displayed in the Gallery of his famous house, Strawberry Hill, from 1747 until 1842, when it was sold at auction in the famous Strawberry Hill sale (an engraving of the eagle appeared on the frontispiece of the sale catalog). Walpole was so taken with the large bird that it appears in his 1756–57 portrait by Joshua Reynolds (in the collection of Ragley Hall, Warwickshire); on the table next to Walpole's elbow in the portrait is a print, commissioned by him, that prominently shows the large bird. The eagle, and the inscribed ancient Roman marble cinerary altar upon which it sits, is today in the collection of Gosford House, the earl of Wemyss's ancestral seat outside Edinburgh. The eagle was documented by Adolf Michaelis in his 1882 publication, "Ancient Marbles in Great Britain" and it was one of the stars of "The Treasure Houses of Britain" exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in 1985.
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, p. 121, 1852.
Title: Treasure Houses of Britain, The - SOFTBACK
Author: Jackson-Stops, Gervase (Editor)
Year Published: 1985
Reference: pg. 320
Publisher: Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press)
Book Type: Softback
Title: Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume III: East Anglia
Author: Kenworthy-Browne, John; Reid, Peter; Sayer, Michael; Watkin, David
Year Published: 1981
Reference: pgs. 6-7
Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II
Park Listed: Not Listed
Current Seat / Home of: Jenyns (Jennings) family; here since the end of the 17th century.
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Alington family, until the 17th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: The Rev. George Leonard Jenyns, 18th century.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
House Open to Public: No
Historic Houses Member: No