Europe & us in 99 objects

The Anglesey Leg, the world's first articulated wooden leg, in the Cavalry Museum at Plas Newydd, on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales

The 1st Marquess of Anglesey’s leg, at Plas Newydd (NT 1175888). ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

In this year when political relationships have been so hotly debated, we have put together a selection of items from our collections that explore our rich and ancient cultural connections to the European continent.

Drawing inspiration from the British Museum’s ‘History of the World in 100 Objects’, this selection of objects – a digital diary of sorts – will help examine our nation’s cultural influence on the Continent, and equally, its influence on us.

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Antonio Canova (1757-1822), marble bust of Helen of Troy, 1816-7, at Mount Stewart, on loan from the Trustees of the Londonderry Estate. ©Trustees of the Londonderry Estate/Bryan Rutledge

Each weekday over a period of 99 days, my colleague Gabriella de la Rosa will be highlighting a particular object on our collections website. She’ll be looking at everything from Old Master paintings and priceless heirlooms to some of the more humble and unusual items in our collections.

The series has started with a prosthetic limb made for the 1st Marquess of Anglesey who lost his leg at the Battle of Waterloo, a marble bust by Antonio Canova that was used as a pawn in a diplomatic game and a Roman ring that may have inspired the fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien.

A gold ring at The Vyne, Basingstoke, Hampshire, with an inscription on the band and a lion's head marked on it

Gold ring, engraved with a head of Venus and an inscription, fourth century AD, at the Vyne (NT 719789) ©National Trust Images/David Levenson

Drawn from over 200 special places, this digital attic of oddities and treasures will show that Britain’s story is one of a two-way traffic of delights, where the English Channel is not so much a fortress as a trading highway of influences and culture that has helped define who we are as a nation today.

The digital diary will be unfolding on the National Trust Collections website. Please check in regularly to uncover the remarkable stories these objects have to tell.

5 Responses to “Europe & us in 99 objects”

  1. Parks and Gardens UK Says:

    What a brilliant idea. Thank you as always for an inspiring and unusual take on the Trust and its collections

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Glad you like it.

  3. Andrew Says:

    No doubt you are aware that the real leg (amputated after Waterloo, and buried in Belgium) became a tourist attraction in its own right.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Indeed and Gabriella mentions it in her caption on the collections website. A wonderful (if that is the right word) example of sideshow cum celebrity tourism.

  5. KDM Says:

    Excellent idea – KDM

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