History and description of Woburn and its abbey. A new edition.
8vo. (8) + 103 + (1)pp. Original cloth, slightly worn on spine and at outer corners.
An updated and shortened version of Stephen Dodd’s History and Description of Woburn and its Abbey, 1845, which itself had been a reworking of a book by Dodd on the same subject published as far back as 1818. The purpose of the present volume, presumably printed for private circulation at the expense of the then Duke of Bedford, was clearly to serve as a guide book to visitors to Woburn Abbey, the Duke’s great eighteenth-century Bedfordshire country house, and it has the advantage over the book of 1845 that the listing of the items in the ducal Sculpture Gallery is updated in accordance with the descriptions and numbering for the sculptures adopted by the German art historian Adolf Michaelis in his Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, 1882. It is neverthelesss disappointing to read that in 1890 the number of visitors to the house was normally limited to a total of thirty, admitted on Fridays only with strict instructions not to touch the pictures and furniture, and it may well have been that they were admitted to the house’s Museum Room and to the Sculpture Gallery only, since there are no descriptions of the house’s principal state rooms. Rather more unconsciously revealing is what the volume has to say about the fate of Woburn’s historic parish church, demolished in the mid 1860s on instructions from the reclusive 8th Duke of Bedford and replaced by a private mortuary chapel on the same site, a new parish church being built to designs by the architect Henry Clutton elsewhere in the town.