The Victoria & Albert Museum's £30 million British galleries, due to open next year, are to be emblazoned by the presence of four six-foot-high fantastical creatures, created from a single oak tree in about 1520.
The museum has acquired the Dacre Beasts following a six month campaign to raise the £420,000 price, with money coming from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund (The Art Fund) and the Friends of the V&A - which gave their largest sum to date, £107,000.
The Tudor Beasts are red bull, a black gryphon, a crowned salmon and a white ram, and are now on display at the V&A prior to taking up their places in the British Galleries when they open in November 2001.
They were commissioned by Lord Dacre, who fought with Henry Tudor against Richard III at Bosworth Field, when he was 22 and at Flodden in 1513.
The beasts stood at Dacre's family seat, Naworth Castle in Cumbria, until last December. The red bull was Dacre's crest; the crowned salmon that of Elizabeth de Greystoke with whom Dacre eloped in 1488; the black gryphon belonged to his ancestor Ranulph de Dacres, who built Naworth in 1335; and the white ram to Ranulph's wife, Margaret de Multon. Lord Dacre died in 1525.