'Not Built to Envious Show'

Felix Barker describes a new museum at the Sidneys of Penshurst stately home in Kent.

Lord de L'Isle is eighty next month. There was talk of fireworks at Penshurst, but these frivolities have been put aside in favour of a more enduring enterprise. A permanent museum is to be opened at the house with 'The Sidneys of Penshurst' as its theme.

This has been an ambition of William Philip Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle, VC, Knight of the Garter, since 1945 when, on his father's death, he inherited this stately home near Tonbridge in Kent. As a hero of Anzio, peacetime Secretary of State for Air, and a former Governor General of Australia, he has acquired a formidable list of honours, but the dominating interest in his life is Penshurst and the Sidney family.

With the co-operation of the Kent Archives Office, De L'Isle is working against time to assemble a collection of manuscripts, paintings and memorabilia that will show the history of the family since the fifteenth century. The museum should be ready for his birthday on May 23rd and a party, at which thirty-five members of his family spanning four generations will be present.

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