In the Name of the Rose

25 July 2013

Coded messages, illicit symbols, treacherous objects; the latest exhibition at Fairfax House enters the secret world of the Jacobite.

This August Fairfax House opens the second exhibition in its 250th anniversary programme. In the Name of the Rose, the latest in the series of ground-breaking exhibitions shedding new light on the Georgian Age, explores the secretive world of allegiance during the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745. This exhibition uncovers the use of symbols to convey covert messages of loyalty to the cause of the exiled Stuarts.

Hannah Phillip, Director, explains “To be a Jacobite supporter was a very dangerous game. The stakes were high and if you were discovered you would be guilty of treason, and the death penalty would undoubtedly await you. Expressing allegiance therefore had to be done covertly and through a series of rituals, symbols and secret messages.”

An ambitious and unprecedented range of symbolic Jacobite objects with hidden meaning and illicit intent have been drawn together for this exhibition in York, including swords, paintings, jewellery, wine glasses, fans, swatches of tartan cut from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s clothing, and even locks of hair from Charles and Flora McDonald.

The exhibition also puts on display for the first time the coat of arms from the famous Bear Gates of Traquair, out of which Bonnie Prince Charlie rode, never for the gates to be reopened again – or at least until a Stuart king regained the throne. Such stories abound in this exhibition that looks at these treason-laden objects which speak of the dangers of supporting the Jacobite cause.

Objects have been assembled for this exhibition from the south of England to the north of Scotland; including pieces on loan from the V&A, British Museum, National Army Museum, The Ashmolean, Oxford, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge as well as from many more museums and private collections such as those belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, Donald Cameron of Locheil and Browsholme House.

Symbols are the key to this exhibition, and at the heart of it is the most potent and evocative symbol of all – the Rose. The rose, used throughout Jacobite culture as a secret sign for the cause, inspired faith, courage and hope. In the Name of the Rose reveals the many ways in which this symbol was put to bold use to express messages of support.

Undoubtedly one of the star pieces for the exhibition is the white cockade actually found in the pocket of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s waistcoat. The white cockade is one of the most symbolic of objects worn by the Jacobite forces, being worn in the blue caps by the rebels on the battlefield of Culloden. This cockade which belonged to the Prince would once have adorned his cap in the same way.

Hannah Phillip: “In the Name of the Rose also links closely to the 9th Viscount Fairfax and his daughter Anne, who for years, have been suspected of being secret Jacobite sympathisers. The complex and elaborate symbol-rich stuccowork with which they chose to ornament their York townhouse staircase, could in fact unlock the truth about their allegiances. We invite people to come and look and make their own minds up as to where the truth lies.”

In the Name of the Rose: The Jacobite Rebellions, Symbolism & Allegiance opens on Friday 9 August and will run until Tuesday 31 December 2013. In the Name of the Rose will be officially opened by Jonathon Brown, Director of Drambuie, on the evening of Thursday 8 August.

For more information visit

PHOTO CALL Friday 2nd August 2.00pm: Curators from lending museums around the country assemble to install objects for the exhibition, ‘In the Name of the Rose’.


Notes to Editors:

2013 is Fairfax House’s 250th anniversary year. Two hundred and fifty years ago, in the spring of 1763, the Fairfax family took up residence in their elegant new townhouse in York, designed for them by the leading Palladian architect John Carr.

The House is open daily Tuesday-Saturday from 10.00am to 4.00pm, Sundays 12.30-3.30pm and Mondays for tours at 11.00am and 2.00pm.

Admission to the exhibition is included in the entry ticket to Fairfax House.

Adults £6.00 and Concession £5.00 Children FREE

This exhibition is part of the Yorkshire Country House Partnership’s ‘Duty Calls’ project.

The Country House in Time of War is the latest in a series of collaborative projects by Yorkshire Country House Partnership, and looks at the impact of various conflicts on nine of Yorkshire’s major country houses, and the experiences of their occupants and wider communities, from the points of view of owners, servants, tenants and estate workers. Duty Calls will run throughout 2013 and 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

From March 2013 until October 2014 simultaneous interlinked exhibitions and programmes of events and activities will highlight and explore each house’s own particular circumstances, collections and stories, chronicling how these estates and communities faced the hardships of war across three centuries.

Photographs, paintings, military memorabilia and a rich selection of letters, journals, and estate papers will form the basis of the displays and trails telling poignant stories of immense courage, loss, bereavement, support and dedication. Some houses focus on personal experiences of military combat, some on how war affected the use of the house itself and the running of the estate, or the lives of those left at home, community initiatives and war work, as well as the economic and social consequences of war in the aftermath.