21 September 1915: Salisbury man buys Stonehenge for his wife

105 years ago today, Cecil Chubb paid just £6,600 when he bought 30 acres of Wiltshire and the world’s most famous Neolithic monument “on a whim” as an anniversary present for his wife.

What might make a good wedding anniversary present for your wife, do you think, presuming you have one? Jewellery, perhaps? Perfume? Dinner at a swanky restaurant? How about 30 acres of Wiltshire and the world's most famous Neolithic monument? Possibly not.

But that's what Salisbury man Cecil Chubb decided on a whim when he found himself at Messrs Knight, Franck and Rutley's auction in the Palace Theatre on this day in 1915.

Stonehenge had been in the possession of the Antrobus family for generations. But the sole heir, Lieutenant Edmond Antrobus, was killed in action in 1914, just 20 days after arriving in France. With him, the family line died, and the estate containing Stonehenge was put up for sale.

Cecil paid the bargain price of £6,600 (the equivalent of some £475,000 in today's money) for the monument and associated bit of Wiltshire. Unfortunately for Cecil, his wife wasn't too enthused by her romantic gift. So, after enjoying it for just three years, Cecil decided to give it to the nation. And in return, Cecil became Sir Cecil.

But his gift did come with a few conditions, including that the entrance fee should be a "reasonable sum per head not exceeding one shilling for each visit". In 1921, local residents were guaranteed free access in a deal between Parliament and the local Parish Council. To this day, 30,000 locals are entitled to a pass giving them free access. The rest us have to pay rather more than a shilling: the current entrance fee for adults stands at £21.50.

Recommended

28 May 1937: the Volkswagen car company is formed
This day in history

28 May 1937: the Volkswagen car company is formed

On this day in 1937, Volkswagen, now the world's second-biggest vehicle-maker, was founded as the 'Society to Prepare the German People’s Car'.
28 May 2021
1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain
This day in history

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain

On this day in 1999, the national minimum wage was introduced in Britain, bringing an instant pay rise to 1.9 million low-paid workers.
1 Apr 2021
20 March 1602: Dutch East India Company formed
This day in history

20 March 1602: Dutch East India Company formed

The Dutch East India Company – considered by many to be the world’s first multinational company – was founded on his day in 1602.
20 Mar 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021

Most Popular

Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners
Investment strategy

Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners

Under our system of shareholder capitalism it's not fund managers, it‘s the individual investors – the company's ultimate owners – who should be telli…
24 Jan 2022
Three innovative Asian stocks to buy now
Share tips

Three innovative Asian stocks to buy now

Professional investor Fay Ren of the Cerno Pacific Fund highlights three of her favourite Asian stocks to buy now
24 Jan 2022
Temple Bar’s Ian Lance and Nick Purves: the essence of value investing
Investment strategy

Temple Bar’s Ian Lance and Nick Purves: the essence of value investing

Ian Lance and Nick Purves of the Temple Bar investment trust explain the essence of “value investing” – buying something for less than its intrinsic v…
14 Jan 2022