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The Cliveden Baboons
Fear not, these baboons are not wild beasts but ancient granite statues, thought to be between 2,000 and 2,500 years old.
Originally created to flank the entrance to an Egyptian temple, the baboons are believed to represent the Egyptian god of writing and wisdom, Thoth - who was often depicted with the head of a baboon, which is considered to be a sacred animal. The baboons’ travels
The pair were purchased in Rome in 1898 by Cliveden’s wealthy American owner and passionate collector of sculpture, William Waldorf Astor. He placed them in his newly redesigned Long Garden, along with other pieces from his collection.
The sculptures were removed in the 1960s and were in private ownership until they were donated back to us in the early twenty-first century. Prior to their return to the gardens, it was necessary for them to undergo complex and painstaking conservation work with sculpture specialists. One baboon was in a particularly poor state of repair, a fall having broken the statue into several pieces.