the monks of medmenham revealed
Jason M. Kelly PhD, FSA
Associate Professor of British History, IUPUI
School of Liberal Arts
Department of History, IUPUI
Cavanaugh Hall 503N
425 University Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5140
hi jason, have you come across ‘secret symbols of the hell fire club’ and its material on the 1940’s esotericist and artist maxwell armfield?
I apologize for this delayed response. I am not familiar with this, but I will be sure to have a look. Thanks!
I recall there was or is a church at Wycombe with a golden ball on it’s steeple where the ‘monks’ played cards while the church services went on below.
Love your “19th Century tourism” piece. You summed it up, thats what it was all about. They did mock Religion, Dashwood had a dislike of the Catholics. As for the black masses etc, they were probably invented by rival MPs. The Monks did meet for “wine women and fun”, and pollitical influence seemed to come from Dashwood at that time. What I still find strange is the dislike Paul Whithead had for Freemasonry, when he held the mock masonic prosession through London. The Freemasons prosession didnt happen after that! Dashwood had a Masonic room above West Wycombe House. Dont forget that masonry was founded by the Wigs in the1730s and Dashwoods club was founded around 1748.
Thanks, Paul. I haven’t posted here in a while, but I’ll probably have a post or two ready for the summer.
Dear Jason ,
I’ve read your blog with interest.
From 1988 for about fifteen years I rented from the Dashwoods, the apartment at west wycombe park that contained the Masonic room . a spectacular room at the top of the house that was previously reached through a secret double cupboard arrangement but , since the 1920s ,just by the stairs.
It still has three of the robing rooms attached , two of which still have their coat hooks .
I became quite interested in the HF club, so much of which is myth. The Dashwoods have always maintained that it was this , then secret, room where the club met , rather than the caves , until they took the lease on medmenham abbey. The late sir Francis Dashwood always thought they were probably kicked out by his ancestor’s wife!.
When Francis was a child the Masonic room was used as a day nursery for him and his sister sarah. Both maintained it was badly haunted and that the heavy furniture would be regularly thrown around. Helen , lady Dashwood , had this room exorcised at some point . I certainly never felt anything but comfortable there. Save when Francis and Marcella would go on holiday and turn down the central heating!.
Thanks for sharing this, Simon. That must have been a wonderful experience. I don’t believe that I’ve been in the room which you describe (this would be on the second floor, correct?). If I am recalling correctly, there are some plasterwork masonic motifs in the ceilings on the first floor. I wonder, do you have any photos of the room?
I agree with Sir Francis in that the club never met at the caves. It’s an interesting proposition that an attic room would have been used for gatherings — perhaps Masonic. I’ll have to check in to this next time I’m at West Wycombe.
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