Famous People – Sir John Lubbock

The Lubbock family lived in the mansion house of High Elms, near Downe. Sir John Lubbock (born 1834) was the son of Sir John Lubbock (born 1801) and was a banker for his family company.

He is best known for his “antiquarian” interests (nowadays this spans the disciplines of Geology, Archaeology, and Social History) and he conversed and corresponded with Charles Darwin about evolution and his academic interests – they were neighbours and exchanged land.

On the national stage, he was notable for saving the site Avebury Circle in 1871, as the stones were being broken up for building (it is now a World Heritage site). This is why, when his Baronetcy was raised to Baron, his peerage was named to Avebury. He also came up with the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic to describe the Old and New stone ages.

As an MP, Sir John Lubbock introduced bank holidays – Bank Holidays Act 1871.

His mansion was left to the council, when it was used as an art college and then a home for nurses. In 1967 it was burnt to the ground. The outline of his terraced gardens can be explored in the country park, and there are bricks in the grass to show where the walls of the house were.

There is a Lubbock collection of art and artefacts (see here) and some of this is on display at the Central Library, since the Bromley Museum at the Orpington Priory has closed.

Farnborough village history have an informative article on the Lubbocks at High Elms, here: https://www.farnborough-kent-village.org.uk/lubbock_high_elms.html

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