Trips & Adventures – 7 November 2019
Our expected train was cancelled due to a break down, but we found an alternative train, direct to Mossley Hill, from Oxford Road Train Station. Our destination was Sudley House, a historic house in Aigburth, a district of Liverpool.
The house and the art collection are unique and were bequeathed to the city of Liverpool in 1944 by Emma Georgina Holt. Although she never married, she had some close female friends. Sudley House is now managed by National Museums Liverpool. Art UK described the house as being “the only British collection of its kind still in its original setting”.
We visited the cafe and tried the home made leek and potato soup and various sandwiches before meeting our guide, Tim, in the library.
There we were treated to an informative talk about the history of the building. Tim was very knowledgeable and gave us some real insights into the paintings on display by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Landseer, Millais, Turner amongst others. Our favourite was:
Tim also recounted the story of Mickey the monkey. Liverpool Zoological Park was a short-lived affair, only open from 1932-1938. The star attraction was a chimpanzee called Mickey. Not just any old monkey, Mickey was billed as “The World’s Cleverest Chimpanzee”. His cleverness manifested itself in such ways as being able to light his own cigarettes, which he would also smoke.
In a copy of The Mirror newspaper of 1937 there is a small article about an escaped chimpanzee in Liverpool, “Escaped ape attacks and bites two men,” says the headline. In 1938, Mickey escaped again. This time he escaped into a schoolyard, mauled some of the children and was eventually shot dead. Poor Mickey was stuffed after he was shot, still on display even after death. He ended up exhibited in Lewis’s Department Store in Liverpool until the shop was badly bombed in the 1941 blitz.
George Melly, the jazz singer, critic and famous bisexual, was related to the Holt family. In his autobiography he described aspects of life at Sudley House during his various childhood visits in the 1930s.
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