The Laurence Sterne Trust



1713 – 1768


The son of a soldier, educated at Jesus College Cambridge, where his great-grandfather, an Archbishop of York, had been Master. Ordained in 1736, he served in several parishes before settling in 1760 in Coxwold in North Yorkshire with his wife and daughter. There he wrote most of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which gained him celebrity, and all of A Sentimental Journey. He had been afflicted all his life with illness, and travelled for his health to France, where his wife and daughter stayed to live. In the last years of his life he fell in love with Eliza Draper, and wrote A Journal to Eliza when she returned to India with her husband.

Laurence Sterne died in 1768, and was buried three times.Once in the graveyard of St George’s, Hanover Square; secondly when he was recognized after having been disinterred for anatomists, and finally, when development took place on the London burial ground, his skull and a femur were taken to Coxwold and buried outside the church where he used to preach.

 ’The freest spirit of the eighteenth century’ Goethe

‘The most liberated spirit of all time’ Nietzsche

Key dates in Sterne’s Life

Sterne in Coxwold

Sterne in Italy


The Laurence Sterne Trust was established by formal deed on 16th March 1967. The principal objects as stated within the Trust deed are “to acquire and maintain the freehold of Shandy Hall, Coxwold. To install and maintain therein as large and comprehensive a collection as possible of the works of Laurence Sterne, together with other related documents, prints and pictures, and to permanently display those works and to keep them open to the public.”

The Trust is a registered charity, number 529593.

Support us in preserving and enhancing Shandy Hall and the legacy of Laurence Sterne.


Bust of Sterne

New bust of Sterne

To round a corner at Shandy Hall and come upon Joseph Nollekens’ bust of Laurence Sterne ranks high among the pleasures of a visit to the house. The bust was modelled from the life in 1766 in Rome. ‘With this performance Nollekens continued to be pleased even to his second childhood,’ writes his biographer. In his portrait painted by John Francis Rigaud in 1772, Nollekens can be seen leaning upon his bust of Sterne.

Few of the original marbles are known to exist but, in celebration of Sterne’s tercentenary, Royston Jones, an expert in Neo-Classical art, has produced in plaster a version of the Nollekens in an EDITION OF TWELVE COPIES.

George Ramsden has kindly offered the tercentenary busts for sale for the benefit of the Laurence Sterne Trust.

Measurements: 21 x 13 inches (including the socle).

Sterne's bust

Price: Ł450 each, including V.A.T.

The cost of delivery to be borne by the buyer.

For more information contact:

Images: plaster version of Nollekens bust of Sterne.

Next event

Next exhibition

Heritage Open Day : The Hidden Wall Paintings of Shandy Hall

9th September 17
Home to 18th century novelist Laurence Sterne, Shandy Hall was probably built around 1430 by George Dayville as a medieval long hall, in what was then called Cuckwold. Today the ground floor hall is a museum, open for tours on Wednesdays and Sundays (May