One further note on the valuable contents of Cowdray The house
is known to have had a very fine collection of paintings by many of
artists of the period like Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyke, Inigo Jones,
Gainsborough and Holbein. Also, it may safely be assumed many important
pieces of furniture. Perhaps more valuable than all the rest, was a
collection of relics of the Norman Conquest, taken from Battle Abbey
after its dissolution in 1536-39. As Keeper of the Horse, Henry VIII
had granted Sir Anthony Browne the Battle Abbey estate and contents
and they stayed in the family until 1717 when Battle Abbey was sold.
However, some of its relics were kept and brought back to Cowdray.
These relics are said to have included the sword of William the Conqueror,
his coronation robe and the famous Roll of Battle Abbey, of which,
fortunately, copies had been made.
The Lost Art Works
As was typical of a grand building, it contained an equally grand art
collection by many of Europe's great renacesance and later painters;
Most fortunately, engraved copies were made of many of the notable pieces,
along with an inventory just months before the disastrous fire, so today
we have a record of what was lost. One of the most famous of these is
xxxx's record of the Sinking of the Mary Rose, and is the only pictorial
record of the event. It features Sir Anthony Browne riding alongside
King Henry VIII at Southsea Castle. Browne was King's Master of the Horse
at the time.
St.John Hope's account
Anya Seaton's Green Darkness
Although not featured in any of the series, Cowdray made frequent television
appearances as the background to the dancing diggers trailer for the BBC2
Restoration television series. Presented by Griff Rhys Jones, the series
selected a wide ranging selection of British buildings and monuments in
need of conservation or restoration money. The public voted for their
favourite projects and the winner gained the funds.