Part of the Chancellor's Den today

Restoring the Chancellor's Den

In 1820, a rare Cumbrian genius rocketed to fame with his successful defence of Queen Caroline, whom George IV was trying to divorce. In 1830 he strode onto the political stage and, two years thereafter he introduced the second most important piece of legislation in the English speaking world. That was the Great Reform Bill of 1832, second only in importance to the Magna Carta of 1215. This genius, the scion of a talented family that had served Cumbria since Saxon times, was Henry Brougham, Lord Chancellor of England and according to Lord Macaulay, a contemporary who knew him well, he was, by far, the finest brain of the C 19th. 

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Lord Hailsham wrote, in 1992, “Brougham was one of the most talented and many-sided of his ancient office.” There is hardly an aspect of law, anywhere in the English speaking world, that was not touched by Brougham who, as champion of the underdog, was seventy years ahead of his time in political thought.

The best of Brougham’s papers (many actually hand illuminated on vellum) lack the space that would do justice to these site specific documents, of British Library calibre. A proposal is to mount a rotating exhibition in the Lord Chancellor’s actual office, at Brougham, where many of these documents first saw the light of day. 

The display would be on two levels – a public rotating exhibition for the thousands of visitors who come to Brougham Hall every year and a separate static one for students of Politics and Economics, PhD's and scholars from all over the world. A few subjects for this rotating exhibition might include the Defence of Queen Caroline; the Great Reform Bill; the establishment of the Old Bailey; the Reform of the Privy Council;Colonial Legislation and the Abolition of Slavery.

On 4th November 2010, we obtained full planning consent and listed building consent to proceed with one of the very few specially built political archive centres in the country.  On 11th October 2013 this consent was expanded to include the greater part of the remainder of the Hall.

On 19th January 2012, we received written consent to proceed with Phase I of the restoration of the Chancellor’s Den, which was the devegetation and stabilisation of the ground floor to provide a level platform, off which to spring the first and second floors.  This has been made possible through a 100% grant from the RDPE Solway, Border & Eden LEADER Programme.  This phase has been undertaken, by the Carlisle Cathedral masons, Messrs Askins & Little and is now complete.  Trevor (also known as Ian) Askins, trained at Brougham as a 16 year old and is one of a group of outstanding masons who started life in our training programme.

Please help us to continue our restoration project to house and display these significant documents by making a donation today.