Stonehenge has long found itself the inspiration for myths and legends of Stonehenge that nobody’s quite sure whether they believe or not, but one of the most unbelievable tales connected to the landmark is actually true…and that’s the story of how one man bought himself Stonehenge.
More than a century ago, a chap named Cecil wandered into an auction in Salisbury and bought Stonehenge, and as impulse buys go it’s one of the most impressive we’ve ever heard of…so how did it happen? Well, long before it came to be owned and cared for by English Heritage, Stonehenge was privately owned, and when the heir to the family who owned the landmark died in the Great War, the world-famous site was put up for auction.
This photo, "Stonehenge Series 5 of 4" is © 2012 Jeffrey of Flickr and made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence.
What was the auction price?
So, on a September’s day all the way back in 1915, Stonehenge and the 30 acres of land that surround it were auctioned and sold for the sum of £6600, which doesn’t sound all that much at all for a piece of one of the planet’s most enchanting sites does it?
Stonehenge and its history are one of our nation’s best-loved treasures, and with a position firmly at the heart of pagan beliefs and spiritualist tradition, how much the site’s actually worth isn’t something that often crosses the mind of its visitors as they stand, humbled at its feet. That said, when the landmark was valued via a survey of 500 estate agents in 2010, they estimated its value to be around a whopping £51m. That’s right…and Cecil snapped it up for £6600. And if you think that’s bemusing, Cecil decided to buy the lot as a gift for his wife on the spur of the moment.
Why did Cecil buy Stonehenge?
His purchase wasn’t all about giving his wife something incredible though, Sir Cecil Chubb is said to have bought Stonehenge because he felt that it belonged in the hands of a Salisbury man, and he kept hold of his bargain for three years before handing it over to the country. There were some conditions attached to his generous gesture though.
It seems it was important to Cecil that everyone had the opportunity to visit Stonehenge and marvel at the sight of it, and he specified that those who lived in the local area should be able to visit Stonehenge free of charge, and we’re happy to say that that’s an agreement between the local council and the residents of the area that’s still standing today. Yes, the guys at English Heritage have stipulated that those residents lucky enough to live in the area are still more than welcome to make the most of Cecil’s kindness and enjoy a free visit to the monument, and there’s something about Stonehenge’s former owner’s concern that the site continued to be a part of life in the region that makes a visit even more special.
Stonehenge has always been a site that inspires, that draws visitors from all over the world, and that holds its secrets delightfully close to its chest, and when you stand in the shadow of the stone, it’s easy to see how Sir Cecil couldn’t resist calling them his own…even if only for a few years.