Spalding Gentlemen’s Society – The Adventures of Stukeley

The Adventures of Stukeley.Heritage open day 12-16/09/William Stukeley born at Holbeach in 1687, also living at Grantham, Stamford and London. During this time, he practised as a doctor and rector, but his passion was as an antiquarian.

He spent 25 years travelling England on horseback recording various historical sites, including Stonehenge and Avebury, and making detailed drawings. This was partly due to his passion for antiquary and architecture but also his fascination with ancient religion and Druidic beliefs, which he incorporated heavily in the decoration of his various gardens. The Society has a series of 44 drawings and documents, a hand-coloured book of his travels and several other artefacts.

Stukeley is noted as being a prominent early member of the Society, joining in 1722. For a long time, the provenance of these drawings was unknown, the Society could find no record of them, and it was therefore assumed that they had been given by Stukeley himself during his time as a member. However, it has now been determined that it is part of a larger collection formerly held by Sir Thomas Phillipps, a bibliophile and collector. Once his collection was dispersed in 1910, this folio of “35 Watercolour drawings by William Stukeley, the antiquary” was bought by Bernard Quaritch, rare book seller for £3, 4s on behalf of Mr Ashley K Maples. Ashley K Maples, Hon. Secretary (1899-1930) and President (1930-1950) of the Society, was a collector in his own right as well as purchasing several items directly for the Society. It is believed he bequeathed the drawings and documents to the Society on his death in 1950

The exhibition includes several of William Stukeley rarely displayed original prints featuring several local views of his various homes in Lincolnshire.

Also on display will be several books from the original library which have formed the basis of the research of Susan Hughes a University of Leicester student working towards her Masters Degree.

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