Written and compiled by George Knowles. Sir Francis Dashwood is one of those colourful characters from our past whose life was shrouded in controversy, half-truths and gossip.
He was an aristocrat and a man of influence but also the rogue of his day, he reveled in his indulgences living his life to the full and not giving a damn for the consequences. As such his name and that of his order was just the stuff on which legend was founded. In during the reign of Queen Anne, Francis Dashwood was born in London to a wealthy family of landed gentry.
Sir Francis here a wealthy businessman who Newgrange Art History Essay built the family fortune from his dealings with the Ottoman Empire trading in Turkey and China.
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When Francis was two years old his mother Lady Mary died and his father promptly remarried. Not much is known of Francis during his formative years except that he was educated at Eton.
There he became associated with William Pitt the Elder later the Great Commoner and being of the same age the two became good friends retaining a deep mutual respect for each other. In his father died and Francis having just turned 16 inherited his baronetcy, the family estate at West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and a vast family fortune.
It was customary during those times for link sons of nobles and those of wealth Englishmen to finish their early education visiting the royal courts of Europe. Normally this was accomplished with the guidance of a personal tutor his was said to have been a Catholic Jacobite their family having mild Jacobite leanings.
While traveling around Europe they could sample the intellectual arts and other such treasures that the continent had to offer. Sir Francis being a young man of high spirits and lascivious inclinations roistered his way just click for source Newgrange Art History Essay court to royal court creating a stir wherever he went.
One of his favorite phrases at the time was: This first trip to Europe lasted eight months and took him to France and Switzerland then back through Germany. During Sir Francis took another tour this time starting in Italy, and it was here that the future Dashwood of legend was formed.
Italy at that time was a hotbed of occultism and Sir Francis reveled in his study of the forbidden arts and was particularly drawn to Newgrange Art History Essay Eleusinian mysteries.
One story that became legend tells of Newgrange Art History Essay rakish this web page of humour particularly in relation to his mockery of religion. His tutor the Catholic Jacobite ever disdainful of his promiscuous behavior, insisted on taking Sir Francis to the Sistine Chapel hoping to instill some form of respect for Christianity.
Sir Horace Walpole the 4 th Earl of Orford witnessed the event and wrote: The chapel is dimly lighted and there are three candles which are extinguished by the priest one by one: The consequences of this frolic might have been serious to him, had he not immediately left the Papal dominions.
The title "Il Diavolo! Another story further explains his growing distain for Christianity. One night after the event in the Sistine Chapel his tutor was awakened by terrible screams coming from his masters chamber.
Investigating he found Sir Francis staring outside at four gleaming green eyes accompanied by a terrible screeching and wailing. Sir Francis was convinced that this was a four-eyed devil that had come to haunt him because of his actions.
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The more worldly-wise tutor recognized instantly that it was simply two cats fighting outside his quarters, but decided not to explain this to Sir Francis and instead went along with his misconceptions in an attempt to get him to see the error of his ways. The Newgrange Art History Essay ploy worked for a time and against his genuine inclinations Sir Francis became a convert to Catholicism. Eventually the tutor's plan backfired for when Sir Francis found out about his deception, it served only to fuel an intense dislike of organized religion.
From Italy Sir Francis moved on visiting: During his travels he picked up a deep love for the cultural arts as well as a penchant for costume and dressing up. In Russia his mischievous sense of humour showed itself again when he turned up at the royal court in St Petersburg dressed as the king of Sweden, one of Russia's great enemies. Returning from Russia Sir Francis started his near life long task of restoring and developing the family estate at West Wycombe.
There the myths of Bacchus and Ariadne proved to be visit web page particular significance to him. On the ceiling of the Great Salon he had painted a vast picture of the 'Admission of Psyche into the realms of the Gods', based on a painting Newgrange Art History Essay Raphael.
Stars at Newgrange time lapse
The dining-room ceiling had the theme of the 'Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne', based on a Caracci painting in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, while the central section of the ceiling of the lower colonnade had a painted fresco depicting 'Bacchus crowning Ariadne'. This brought together a group of serious art connoisseurs who soon gained a fine reputation in the world of art.
When the society had acquired enough money and status, Sir Francis became very active in promoting expeditions and sent out architects and draughtsman to survey and draw reconstructions of many 'almost-lost' classical ruins. There was another side to the society however and some interesting parallels can be made between this group and the later more infamous one that Sir Francis founded. The use of costume was a feature during the Dilettanti meetings and they often performed mock religious rituals, similar in spirit to those he would create later.
From a Satanic viewpoint it is interesting to note that the secretary always dressed go here Machiavelli. After their meetings and rituals the society celebrated with a feast devoted to the old gods, eating and drinking while discussing the arts.
An entry in the Minute Book of the Dilettante Society states: Stuart was the grandson of King James II who was forced to abandon the English throne half a century earlier.
But I detest most heartily the fripperies of Rome which emanate from his entourage. Should the Prince truly come into his own, it is difficult to see how he could keep away from their influence".
Relations between the Prince of Wales and his father were remarkably bad. The Prince retaliating would denounce his father as an obstinate, self-indulgent martinet with an insatiable sexual appetite. So it was in this circle of the aristocracy that Sir Francis made the acquaintance of the leading men of his day, and turned his mind to politics as a suitable career for someone of his wealth and standing. He began to busy himself with worthy schemes mainly to do with the repair of roads, the building of bridges and the general improvement of London and other principle cities.
One can only imagine the nature of its meetings. Sir Francis on the other hand was sexually promiscuous and his sexual appetites had become almost legendary. Perhaps he married her hoping for click at this page heir to his title and Newgrange Art History Essay B ut this she failed to do.
Whatever his reason and despite his wayward ways, he did seem to have had a genuine affection for her. As part of his schemes to improve roadways, in he began to organize the construction of a new road at West Wycombe. Caves were produced as a result of excavations for road-material. Sir Francis had the Newgrange Art History Essay extended and instructed his builders to construct an intricate system of passages and chambers.
Today o n the walls of the caves can be seen carved head like figures, one with a mitre and one with horns, an old and molding female statue stands forlornly in a niche. The tunnel sloping downwards crosses an underground stream and ends at a circular chamber a quarter of a mile from the entrance. This is the main underground feature and was the so-called Banqueting Hall, it measures 40ft across and 60ft high.
A Gothic front and sidewalls were built to enhance the appearance of the entrance. None of the tunneling beyond the main cave was necessary for the road building, but Sir Francis had other plans for it. The road was completed in Sir Francis made friends easily and had a charming manner when it suited him.
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He began to collect about himself a core of like-minded friends of power, influence and distinction. They listened with interest to what he told them about his religious beliefs. The group shared in all his loves and appetites for the cultural arts, as well as those for - Sex, drink, food, dressing up, politics, blasphemy and the occult.
The wall carvings and the female statue in the caves. But this was his family home and not really suitable for the revelry and festivities he envisioned for the new group.
He began to cast about for a more secluded and private place to hold its meetings. He found the perfect site through his friendship with a local painter Francis Duffield. It was situated in a secluded grove by a stretch of the river Thames near Marlow, about six miles away from West Wycombe and twenty miles west of London. It seemed perfect for what he wanted and he took over the lease from Duffield.
To preserve secrecy, instead of using local go here Sir Francis sent in his own builders and gardeners from his estate in West Wycombe and transformed the abbey into a Clubhouse.
A square tower was added to the southeast corner of the building with a cloister of three arches along the side facing the river. At one end of the dining room stood a figure of Harpocrates the Egyptian god of silence with Newgrange Art History Essay finger to his lips, and at the other end the figure of the obscure goddess Angerona in the same pose.
Maurice-Louis Jolivet then re-planed and designed all the gardens. They are thought to have worshipped the Goddess in her orgiastic mood. Only men of importance were admitted for initiation into the inner order, and these included some of the most powerful men of the day: The administrator of the order was the poet Paul Whitehead who kept the records, and who at the very end of his life destroyed them with his own hands, ensuring that the rituals of the order should never be known.
Their ceremonial outfits were said to be Newgrange Art History Essay jackets and trousers with matching cloaks and a round white cap. The abbot's hat was red and trimmed with rabbit's fur. Meetings of the order took place twice a month, with a large AGM meeting that would last for a week or sometime even longer.
The abbey had a plush drawing room for entertaining and a library stocked with books ranging from this web page Bible to pornographic and occult literature. There were also private rooms for the monks complete with a bed. The abbey was open to click here of the monks but two places were strictly for members only.
One was a chapel where only monks had access and beyond that was the chapter room into which only the inner circle of 13 were allowed. The rituals conducted in the chapel by the monks seem in general to have been good-natured spoofs of Christian services with much sexual innuendo and symbolism.
The monks were said to be worshipers of Bacchus and Venus. It seems possible even probable that the inner circle performed some rites in the secret chapter room that today might be classified as "pagan". These were a series of rites performed in ancient Greece over a period of nine days, and honoured the goddess of grain Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
One can only guess whether these rituals had a serious edge to them, or as seems more likely, were conducted in the style of mockery and charade that typified the general mood of the abbey. From the little information that has survived, it is believed that Demeter and her daughter Persephone were represented by naked young women made to lie across the alter with their legs spread open.
One can only speculate as to what would happen next, but it was even rumoured that aristocratic women sometimes volunteered to represent the goddesses, though no names are known for sure. However there is no evidence to support these claims, and most probably they merely worshiped the old gods in their own way as they envisioned them.
After the rituals had been performed good-class whores were hired in London by Paul Whitehead and conveyed to Medmenham by coach.