The Society of Antiquaries of Londons Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of news from the heritage sector, focusing especially on the Society and its Fellows and the contribution that they make to public life through their many and varied activities. Like the intellectual salons of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it aims to amuse and to stimulate debate as well as to inform. A copy of Salons editorial policy can be found on the website and feedback should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.
A notice concerning the current review of the Societys Charters and Statutes was included in the last mailing to Fellows and mentioned in Fellowship News. Fellows are reminded that any contributions they would like to make to the deliberations of the Working Party tasked with making recommendations to Council should be sent by by email, headed Statutes review, by 30 December 2011.
The Societys Library will close for the holidays at 4pm on Friday 23 December 2011 and will re-open on Tuesday 3 January 2012.
The provisional meetings programme for January to July 2012 can be seen on the Societys website.
15 December 2011: Aspects of the Societys paintings collection, by Bernard Nurse FSA and Maurice Howard FSA, followed by mulled wine reception
Our former Librarian will look at how the Society acquired its collection of paintings and our President will highlight important individual works. The meeting is followed by the traditional mulled wine and mince pie reception, for which tickets are required costing £10 and available from the Societys Executive Assistant, Jola Zdunek.
26 January 2012: The printing house of the Strawberry Hill Press: an account, an iconography and a survival, by Stephen Clarke FSA
Horace Walpoles Strawberry Hill Press is the most celebrated and best documented of the early English private presses. It is unique for its longevity and the significance of a number of its productions, and is also important for its role in the circulation of Walpoles writings, and for the way in which it was presented in the theatre that was Strawberry Hill. A survey of the holdings of the Lewis Walpole Library, together with other material from private and public collections in England and America, has revealed a surprising richness of unpublished images. Some of these enable us to see and analyse the interior of the Printing House, and learn about the housing and equipping of Walpoles Press. They also provide a framework for a study of its unfamiliar afterlife following Walpoles death. These reveal the surprising (and previously completely unknown) fact that a large part of the printing house still survives.
2 February 2012: The Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon: recent research and new discoveries, by Peter Guest FSA, Andrew Gardner and Tim Young FSA
Caerleon, the base of Legio Secunda Augusta, one of the four legions that invaded Britain in AD 43, has been the focus of intensive study since the first antiquarian explorations conducted by John Edward Lee and Octavius Morgan (both Fellows of this Society) in the nineteenth century. As a result Caerleon is one of the best-known legionary fortresses of the Roman Empire, and yet, as this paper will demonstrate, it is still capable of revealing much that is new and unexpected. This paper will present a summary of the results of new research carried out since 2006, including extensive geophysical surveys inside and beyond the fortress walls, a major excavation of the legionary store-building in Priory Field, and the discovery of a previously unknown suburb of monumental buildings between the amphitheatre and the River Usk.
Our Fellow Jon Cotton, formerly Curator of Prehistory at the Museum of London, will give a talk called Ballast-heavers and battle axes: the Golden Age of archaeological finds from the Thames, on 17 January 2012 at the Geological Society (tea at 5.30pm, lecture 6pm, reception 7pm; free admission by ticket only, available from the Geological Society Conference Office. The great haul of finds from the Thames includes some of the most iconic objects from British prehistory such as the Battersea shield, the Waterloo Bridge helmet and the Kew tankard. Less well known is the story behind their recovery, which, like any good whodunit, involves fallible heroes, intricate sub-plots and (maybe) a satisfying conclusion.
The following were elected as Ordinary Fellows at the ballot held on 1 December 2011 (short career summaries can be found on the Societys website: Stephanie Agnes Knöll, John Godfrey, Meriel Elizabeth Connor, John Wardlaw Hanbury-Tenison, Sarah Jane Semple, Andrew Charles Foster, Martin David Gibbs, Sarah Muriel Colley and Øystein Ekroll.
The following were elected as Ordinary Fellows at the ballot held on 8 December 2011: Duncan Hawkins, Peter Jeremy Lucas, Jonathan Phillips, Thomas Finan, Victoria Thompson and Phillip Alan Emery.
Victor Chinnery, who was a candidate in the ballot on 8 December 2011, died before the ballot took place. Our President Maurice Howard paid tribute to Victor, saying that he was one of our foremost furniture historians and that his contribution to so many organisations, including the Regional Furniture Society, whose President he was at the time of his death, would be greatly missed.
Rather than the usual round of gloomy news, let us start this Christmas issue of Salon with the very welcome news from the Heritage Lottery Fund that its budget for new awards in 201213 will be £375m, a very pleasing increase of £120m (48 per cent) compared to the 201112 budget. The extra money results from the Governments decision to increase the HLFs share of lottery good cause income to 20 per cent from April 2012, and from continuing record lottery ticket sales.
More detail and finalised budgets for 201213 will be announced in the spring, but provisionally this increased budget will mean that Heritage Grants (awards over £50,000) will have a total budget of £255m, including at least £50m for Major Batch projects (grants over £5m); the Parks for People budget will be £24m across the UK, plus an additional £5m investment from Big Lottery Fund for parks in England; the Landscape Partnerships budget will be £22m; the Townscape Heritage Initiative budget will be £14m (and there will be an additional application round in 2012 for decision in March 2013); the Repair Grants for Places of Worship budget will be £30m across the UK.
The budget for Your Heritage (grants between £3,000 and £50,000) will be £26m and the upper limit increased to £100,000 from April 2012, and the Young Roots budget (for heritage projects led by young people) will be £4m, with the ceiling increased from £25,000 to £50,000 from April 2012.
Single-stage Heritage Grants applications are to be introduced for exceptional situations where there is an urgent external deadline, for example, on partnership funding.
Salon is grateful to Fellows Lesley and Roy Adkins, authors of the best-selling Jack Tar: life in Nelsons Navy, for the following seasonal story, taken from the Occasional Newsletter that they send out to friends and followers from time to time, packed with historical anecdotes and information gleaned during the course of their work and travels (send an email if you wish to be added to the subscriber mailing list).
A song that is occasionally performed by folk singers, particularly around Christmas time, is the ballad known as The Mistletoe Bough. In brief, the story tells of a family celebrating Christmas in the hall (of a castle or mansion). Tired of dancing, the young bride of the lords son proposes a game of hide-and-seek and runs away to hide. She seems to disappear without trace, and days and weeks go by. Years later someone raises the heavy lid of an old wooden chest in a remote part of the castle (or house) and finds the skeleton of the missing bride. She had hidden in the chest but could not get out again, nor could anyone hear her cries.
Several places claim to be the setting for the story, including Minster Lovell Hall (Oxon; pictured left), Bawdrip Rectory (Somerset), Castle Horneck (Cornwall), Bramwell House (Hants), Exton Hall (Rutland) and Brockdish Hall (Norfolk). That so many locations lay claim to be the origin of this melancholy drama reflects the popularity of the ballad, which was penned by the poet and song-writer Thomas Haynes Bailey (17971839) and set to music by Sir Henry Bishop (17861855) (frustratingly we dont know precisely when, as the various original copies are undated, but probably in the mid-1830s). It became a Christmas hit for several decades, every bit as ubiquitous as Slade or Bing Crosby are today. Steven Rouds Folksong and Broadside indexes list 136 variants and retellings of the story have appeared in short stories and novels by Henry James and Thomas Hardy and in the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film Rope.
In the mid-19th century, during the research for his work on London life, Henry Mayhew interviewed a street ballad singer who found the song an asset: Sometimes I could take five shillings in the day, and not work heavily for it either; but at other times I couldnt take enough to pay my lodging. When any popular song came up, that was our harvest … The very best sentimental song that ever I had in my life, and which lasted me off and on for two years was Byrons Isle of Beauty. I could get a meal quicker with that than with any other. The Mistletoe Bough got me many a Christmas dinner. We always works at that time [of year].
The popular song helped to spread the legend, encouraging various places to claim it as their own. However, the song itself may have been inspired by a story within the poem Italy, which Samuel Rogers published in 1822. In his notes to later editions, Rogers stated that the story was claimed by many old houses in England, hinting that it was long in existence.
Such a story was also recounted by Mary Russell Mitford in 1832 (before the Bailey and Bishop song was published), writing about Bramshill House in Hampshire, a place full of histories. It has a haunted room; a chapel shut up, and full of armour; a chest, where, as they say, a bride hid on her wedding-day, and the spring-lock closing, was lost, and perished, and never found until years and years had passed … it swarms with family-pictures, has a hall with the dais, much fine tapestry, and is wanting in no point of antique dignity; the library is full of old books, the furniture as true to the ancient fashion as is compatible with modern notions of comfort … I cannot conceive a more perfect specimen of a great noblemans residence in the seventeenth century than the splendid mansion of Bramshill.
Perhaps here then is the real key to why the story is associated with so many historic houses: most old mansions and large houses at that time had old wooden chests of various sizes; it may well have become fashionable to have a version of the story of the dead bride attached to the old oak chest, alongside the haunted room and suit of armour in the hallway, so that the house had its full measure of antique dignity.
Another seasonal story, but perhaps with a less melancholy note, is the donation of what could be the worlds oldest Christmas pudding to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where our Fellow Dominic Tweddle is the Director General.
Collections Manager Victoria Ingles explains that the museum received a call from a lady wanting to know if we would be interested in a tinned Christmas pudding that had been in her kitchen cupboard since her husbands death and that had been in his family for many years. Encased in its original decorative tin (labelled Teetotal Plum Pudding: High Class Ingredients Only), the pudding carries the message For the Naval Brigade, In the Front, With Miss Westons Best Christmas & New Year, 1900, Wishes.
Dame Agnes (Aggie) Weston, known as the Mother of the Navy, was renowned for her charitable work, including the foundation of the Royal Naval Sailors Rests at Devonport and Portsmouth. In her autobiography, My Life Among the Bluejackets, she records that As Christmas drew near it occurred to one of us that a Christmas pudding for each man of the Naval Brigade would be a nice little present. An order for 1,000 puddings was placed with Messrs Peek, Frean & Co, and the book goes on to describe the effort involved in getting the puddings to navy combatants in the Boer War frontline.
Curators are now faced with an interesting challenge: how to conserve the 111-year-old pudding, which has gone on display as part of the museums Victorian Festival of Christmas, along with examples of navy rations from both World Wars and a recent festive box sent to serving navy members in Iraq.
Several Fellows were among the audience at the British Library on 6 and 7 December 2011 for a performance of Archaeology: the musical, based on Fellow Paul Bahns book, The Bluffers Guide to Archaeology, with songs penned by archaeologist and musician Kevin Fromings.
Pauls book, published in 1989 and currently out of print (shame!), but apparently due to be re-published soon, was once described on a metal detectorists website as a very funny book that twists the tail of professional archaeology in such a way that the author might never work again, proving that archaeologists do have a sense of humour after all! Kevins songs were the perfect accompaniment, with witty lyrics and titles such as Hey Carenza (sung to the tune of Big Spender) Piling a spoil heap to heaven (Led Zeppelin, of course) and Two volunteers drank too many beers (to the tune of Margaret Thatchers favourite Rolf Harris song).
This was a one-off Christmas performance to raise funds for the homeless charity Crisis, but the show was too good to be allowed to disappear; a suitable occasion and venue will be sought for bringing the musical to a larger audience (so move over Matilda and Jerusalem, the archaeologists are coming!).
As we head for the winter solstice (the real reason why Stonehenge was built, of course, not the summer one), BBC Radio 4s Today programme debated recently whether or not Stonehenge should be lit up at night. Arguing for subtle lighting for this wonderful monument, Lady (Mimi) Pakenham, who had earlier written to The Times on the subject, said that lighting would help to add some magic to the site and thus get the public and schoolchildren passing by in their cars interested in the mysteries of the ancient world.
It fell to our Fellow Clive Ruggles, Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester, to put the counter argument that Stonehenge is all about the connection between prehistoric ritual and the sky. He said that plans to restore the Stonehenge landscape would also help to bring back natural lighting conditions by removing traffic from the vicinity of the monument, whereas the headlights from passing cars currently made it hard to appreciate the relationship between Stonehenge and the night sky. The programmes presenter, Evan Davies, wondered whether it was possible to alternate light and dark periods, and Mimi Pakenham spoke of the Salisbury Cathedral darkness into light ceremony, which combined darkness, candlelight and electrical light.
The radio debate was inconclusive, but it generated a good deal of reaction and comment. English Heritage, for example, said that experiments with artificial lighting in the 1970s and early 1980s had been stopped due to an increase in road accidents caused by vehicles slowing down to observe the monument, adding that as there is even more traffic today on the A303, that risk cannot be ignored. King Arthur Pendragon, chieftain of the Council of British Druid Orders, said: The place is supposed to be dark and broody thats part of the mysticism of Stonehenge and illuminating it would only detract from its very purpose as a sun temple. Its not designed to be illuminated at night and in my opinion it smacks of theme park Stonehenge which is everything I stand against.
Picture: how it might look photographer Marc Bower-Briggs paints Stonehenge with light having been granted access to the World Heritage Site for two hours to transform the stone circles into light art (further pictures can be seen on the Daily Telegraphs website).
Picture: Fellow Jean Wilson (left) being shown one of the boats by CAU staff. The transom board at the stern (near) end is missing, suggesting that the boat was scuttled rather than simply being abandoned. Photo courtesy of our Fellow Norman Hammond.
The latest find to emerge from the waterlogged Bronze Age site at Must Farm, near Whittlesey, Peterborough, is a group of no less than six log boats, prompting David Gibson, Senior Archaeological Manager with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), to comment that one canoe would be great; two exceptional; six feels greedy. The six boats were found at various levels in a silted-up channel, spanning a 600-year period between the mid-second and early first millennia BC, along with fish-weirs of woven hurdles and osier eel-traps remarkably similar to those still made today by the last surviving Fenland eel-fisher. Two of the boats are decorated, and several show signs of repair. They range in length from 8.3m to just over 4m.
Must Farm lies on the southern edge of the Flag Fen Basin, whose northern margins were excavated by our Fellow Francis Prior and the Fenland Archaeological Trust in the 1970s and 1980s (see the Prehistoric Societys Newsletter 63, November 2009, for a location plan). Cambridge Archaeological Units work at Must Farm began with an evaluation in 2006, at which point it was realised that the site was likely to be exceptional in terms of the preservation of organic remains. The small fraction of the site that has been excavated so far has yielded fragments of woven wool and bark-fibre garments, wicker baskets, a wooden bowl containing the remains of nettle stew and swords and spears of bronze.
The excavation is being funded by the Hanson group, the supplier of stone, cement, gravel and building materials, which has planning permission to excavate the site for the clay that has long been the basis of the areas brick industry. The company has been especially helpful, say the archaeologists, in allowing the excavation to take its own pace. Since Hansons clay extraction will mean deep excavation, it will be possible to record the deep stratigraphy of an area that was once on the margins of the now largely drowned Doggerland landscape.
Peregrine Berties drawing for the Spalding Gentlemens Journal of 1741. Photograph: Armitt Museum and Gallery.
The Guardian reported last week on the discovery of a hoard of Bronze Age swords, plus a dagger and a spear head. For once the discovery was not made by a metal detectorist but by our Fellow Stuart Needham, and instead of being dug up fresh from the ground, this one was found in the British Museum, having originally been found by peat cutters wrapped in a kind of bundle, two feet deep in a peat bog in the Ambleside area in 1741.
A sketch and an account of the find was published in the journal of the Spalding Gentlemens Society, and then the hoard disappeared until Stuart Needham realised that weapons forming a prominent part of the permanent exhibition on the Bronze Age at the British Museum matched those shown in the eighteenth-century sketch. It appears that the hoard had been kept as part of the Royal Collection at Carlton House for many decades, and was subsequently put on display at Windsor Castle. With the Queens permission, the weapons were transferred to the British Museum in 1977. Now they will be returned to Ambleside, where they will form part of the displays celebrating the Armitt Museums centenary in March 2012.
Some people have the gift for nosing out the gold from the dross at auctions. We learned courtesy of the Radio Times this week that Jonathan Bate, Provost of Worcester College and Professor of English Literature in the University of Oxford, bought a sketch as a birthday present for his wife, the Jane Austen scholar Dr Paula Byrne, which just might turn out to be a portrait from life of the author herself.
The only known image of Jane with a secure provenance is the unfinished sketch of 1810 by her sister Cassandra, now on display in the National Portrait Gallery. This rather unflattering sketch, of which a member of her own family said the general resemblance is not strong, was used as the basis for an idealised portrait drawn by James Andrews of Maidenhead and used as the frontispiece for A Memoir of Jane Austen (1870), compiled by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh.
Whereas the Andrews portrait depicts Jane Austen as pretty and dim, says Paula Byrne, this new portrait shows the feisty and fiercely intelligent author suggested by her books. Dr Byrnes birthday present will be the subject of a BBC 2 documentary, Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait?, to be broadcast on Boxing Day, when a team of experts will work with her to trace the portraits origins. Perhaps the programme will also reveal what church it is that appears so prominently in the right-hand portion of the drawing and what special relevance it might have to Jane Austen.
If at some stage Dr Byrne finds herself in the very unfortunate position of being unable to meet a tax bill, she might be able to offer that Jane Austen portrait in lieu of hard cash. Buried in the detail of the Chancellors autumn budget statement is a proposal to allow individuals and businesses to donate pre-eminent art or objects to the nation in payment of capital gains, corporation and income tax. Currently the so-called acceptance in lieu scheme applies only to inheritance tax and to a maximum of £15m. The ceiling will be raised to £30m for all forms of tax.
Critics have questioned whether the Government scheme represents value for money, however, saying that independent government valuations tend to be very conservative in estimating the monetary value of donated works, and that the donor would often benefit by selling the work on the open market to raise the necessary funds to pay the tax, even with the additional taxes that would be involved in the sale of the work.
Meanwhile, an example of how tortuous the current Acceptance in Lieu scheme can be in practice comes in the shape of an appeal that is gathering momentum and designed to raise awareness of the important Westmorland Archive, currently in the care of the Northamptonshire Records Office.
Part of the archive has been offered to the nation under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme but Northamptonshire County Council still has to raise around £670,000 to acquire the remainder (a sum well below what the collection would be worth on the open market, but nevertheless a great deal of money). County Archivist Sarah Bridges will be leading bids in due course to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and to public and private donors, but a campaign of support is already under way to draw attention to the desirability of keeping the archive entire and in public ownership.
The Westmorland family owned Apethorpe Hall, Northants, now in the care of English Heritage, as well as extensive lands around Apethorpe and in Huntingdonshire, Buckinghamshire and Kent. The archive dates from the twelfth century and includes the court rolls of the villages around Apethorpe, as well as seals, maps and surveys, like the 1551 survey of Nassington, detailing the fields, each furlong with detailed abuttals, the size of each parcel and the common rights. There are also records of Fotheringhay College (Northants), Thorney Abbey and Emmanuel College (Cambridge) and the accounts of Edward, Duke of York (13731415), the Civil War papers of Adrian Scrope (160160) and letters from the Crimean War, when the 12th Earl of Westmorland was ADC to Lord Raglan.
The tenth anniversary of the policy of free admissions to national museums and galleries was marked by a flurry of pro and anti articles in the media. Dr Michael Dixon, Chairman of the National Museum Directors Conference, argued that the policy cannot be sustained without a bigger Government subsidy. You cannot generate enough income to run these institutions, he said, from commercial and philanthropic sources alone. If government subsidy falls below a certain point, then the choice is to stop doing some things or to charge for some services; we are not far from that tipping point.
Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, argued that free entry was not a luxury but one of the signs of a civilised society and that even in times of gloom and doom, we can demonstrate that we are a creative nation. He said that the policy had helped to make Londons museums and galleries the most visited in the world: the extra seven million visitors that the policy had attracted over the last ten years had probably contributed £315m to the economy, based on expenditure of £90 a day per person on ancillary services, so the income generated far outstrips the cost of the policy. Just as importantly, free access has helped to create a new young generation of enthusiastic museum-goers.
Proof of arts current popularity comes with the news that the Leonardo exhibition has caused scenes outside the National Gallery reminiscent of a pop concert, as touts offer tickets at up to fifteen times their £16 face value (and despite the fact that the tickets are not transferable). This follows the sell-out of all the pre-bookable tickets long before the exhibition opened: those seeking to buy one of the 500 tickets sold on each day are queuing for three hours or more. Ironic, really, when you remember that our Fellow Nicholas Penny has been widely quoted in the media as being hostile to the idea of blockbuster exhibitions (what he actually said, on appointment to the post of Director of the National Gallery in 2008, was that he did not like the term blockbuster, nor the mentality that regarded popular exhibitions as more important than the permanent collections and that galleries should take risks by showing art that was worthwhile rather than chasing popularity for its own sake).
Also speaking up for civilised values recently was Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, who gave the keynote speech at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on why it would be wrong for universities to forsake the arts and humanities and focus only on science, technology and practical subjects that confer an economic benefit on the individual and the nation.
He quoted his predecessor as vice-chancellor, Professor Dame Alison Richard, who had observed: The dichotomy between useful and not useful is itself increasingly not useful. The case for breadth centres on the proposition that the greatest challenges facing the world today are of huge complexity and global scope, best tackled by people whose education enables them to integrate different fields of knowledge and work across conventional academic boundaries.
Quoting Professor Stefan Collini, Sir Leszek defined the arts and humanities as a series of disciplined attempts to extend and deepen understanding of human activity in its greatest richness and diversity, across times and cultures, and said that such endeavours were an indispensable part of the contribution that universities made to society.
Fellow Simon Jenkins tackled the subjects of World Heritage Sites and tall buildings recently in his London Evening Standard column, the link being the news that UNESCO officials have visited London this week to examine the question of whether tall buildings, existing and proposed, compromise the settings of the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey and Palace to the extent that they should cease to be World Heritage Sites.
Sir Simon was at his invective best in his round condemnation of everybody concerned. You dont have to agree with him to enjoy the sheer power of his muscular prose. World Heritage Sites are a tax-free job creation scheme for a vagrant bourgeoisie [who] cruise around the world, living it up at some hapless taxpayers expense, handing out bouquets and brickbats like a cultural Sepp Blatter.
Not that anyone cares what they think: the capitals governors regard culture as an activity to be confined strictly to the stage and museum. Town planning is for wimps and weirdos.
On the other hand, he does not like tall towers: totems of the deregulated economy of the 1990s and 2000s [they are] random obelisks … dishevelled shapes from the computer desks of their lordships Foster and Rogers … [to quote the new Lord Mayor, David Wootton] an ostentation … out of spirit with these times.
The Tower of London is already a goner, Simon opines, but the heart of Westminster is still a precious spot, with a Victorian setting deferential to its medieval core. Tall structures planned for Vauxhall and a site to the rear of the National Theatre will transform the environs and character of the Thames at Westminster. But there is no hope, for when politics gets into bed with money, public or private, you can forget aesthetics and those of us who have long argued that London could be a thriving economy within a dignified civic environment have lost this battle.
It is only fair to add that not everyone thinks the Tower is a goner, for Charles Mackay, Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces, responded by pointing out that the important relationship between the Tower and the Thames has been preserved, so that from the water it is still possible to appreciate the Towers role as gateway to London and the kingdom. In addition, the Tower Liberties, the protected cordon around the Tower has not been compromised. He also points out that World Heritage Site status has proved effective in the past in holding back the excesses of strident development.
Perhaps Simon Jenkins can take heart from the report to be published shortly on alternatives to the sale of publicly owned forests and woodlands, a subject on which the National Trust, of which he is Chairman, took a lead earlier this year.
When plans for the sell-off were halted in the spring, the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, set up an independent panel, led by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Revd James Jones, to report on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England. In turn, the panel members asked the public to comment, receiving some 42,000 communications.
The panels report concludes that the sell-off plans failed to take account of the social benefits of the natural environment and that the £20m cost to the state of maintaining the forests and woodlands is very modest and very good value for money, delivering benefits far in excess of this cost. The panel also praises the Forestry Commission for striving to be an exemplar of managing land for social, environmental and economic benefits, and it calls for a depoliticisation of woodland and forestry policy, noting that electoral timescales dont match the lifespan of trees.
England has about 1.3m hectares of woods and forests, an area about twice the size of Devon, or about 9 per cent of the English countryside (well below the European average of 37 per cent)Of this total, only 18 per cent is publicly owned, but that includes 44 per cent of all the woodland accessible to the public: The public forest estate often sets a gold standard in recreational access, says the report.
Photo: Charles Higham at work recently in the Thai village of Ban Non Wat.
For as many Fellows as there are who took up archaeology as a way of avoiding school sports, there are others who excelled on the playing field, as we were reminded this week in an article on the Sports pages of the Guardian paying tribute to the Cambridge side that, fifty years ago in 1961, won the Varsity match and with it the title of best Varsity XV ever.
Sports reporting has always been a somewhat eccentric branch of the journalistic profession, marked by exaggerated prose and a tenuous grip on reality, which might account for the somewhat odd way that the Guardian report begins by describing the veterans of that game (who met for a reunion dinner at the Savoy hotel on St Andrews Day, 30 November 2011) as old men (what, at an average age of seventy?), greybeards, shaky on their pins, with soft-boiled rheumy eyes (when you know that our hale and active Fellow Charles Higham was among that number, you will see just how far from accurate such a portrait is). Neither, it appears, is maths the strong point of Frank Keating, the Guardians reporter, since his opening paragraph says that 15 greybeards in faded, threadbare light blue blazers attended that dinner, along with 13 of their deadly rivals from a precise half-century ago; by the end of the same paragraph this has mysteriously turned into 26 fond old codgers.
One hopes the maths is a little more accurate in the rest of the article, for the acclamation of best Varsity side ever rests on the fact that the Cambridge First XV of 1961 won every game it played during the season, a feat never matched before or since. The tally of fourteen games won, none drawn or lost (with a points total of 249 for and 49 against) was not achieved by playing other university sides, but by beating such seriously muscular grown-up sides, packed with international players, as Cardiff, Newport, Gloucester, Leicester, Coventry, Bedford, Harlequins and Northampton.
In the final game of the season, the Varsity match played on 11 December 1961, a strong Oxford side could so easily have snatched that unbroken record from them. Hence it was a very tense and hard-fought game, played on a dour grey day in front of a crowd of 60,000. The match remained even, with a score of three-all (both from drop goals) until the final twenty minutes of the game, when first Geoff Frankcom scored a try and then, in the closing moments of the game, our Fellow Charles Higham put down the final try of the game and the season, leaving the score 9 to 3 in Cambridges favour.
According to the Guardian, Charles interrupted a dig in Thailand to fly in this week to recall the game (so much, then, for rheumy old men), In his own words, it happened thus: Lucky bounce straight into my hands only full-back Willcox to beat I pass to Michaelson inside me he makes straight for Willcox then flips it back to me Im over in the corner amazing noise a man in the front row of the east terrace is going berserk so am I so are all of us relief all round.
Picture: Alan Saville and Barbara Crawford
Congratulations to our Fellow Alan Saville, who was elected President of our sister Society, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, at the Anniversary Meeting held on St Andrews Day, 30 November 2011. Alan said: Im delighted and very honoured to have been selected and elected as the new President of the Society to succeed [Fellow] Barbara Crawford and I am looking forward to my three years in office. The proceedings of the meeting, including Barbara Crawfords final Presidential Address, can be watched on the Scottish Antiquaries online podcast.
The Anniversary Meeting also saw the election of our Fellow Beverley Ballin Smith as one of four new members of Council and of three new distinguished Honorary Fellows: Neal Ascherson and our Fellows Martin Carver and Vincent Megaw.
Congratulations are also due to our Fellow Matthew Slocombe, who will take over the helm at the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (billed incorrectly on its website as Britains oldest heritage body, but we will let that pass!) when our Fellow Philip Venning retires in summer 2012, after twenty-eight years as SPABs Secretary (sadly Matthew will not be inheriting Philips time-honoured title; the trustees have deemed that he will instead be known as Director).
An architectural historian, Matthew, aged forty-four, has worked for SPAB since 1991 when he took up the post of Head Caseworker, moving on from a similar role at The Georgian Group. Since 1995 he has been SPABs Deputy Secretary (and Company Secretary since 2005). Matthew was elected a Fellow on 11 October 2007 and is widely known throughout the heritage sector through the many committees and panels on which he is a member and adviser, notably as Secretary of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies.
Matthew says: I am delighted that SPABs trustees have given me this opportunity. Our common sense approach to old buildings, coupled with our enthusiasm for creative new design and our cutting-edge research into energy efficiency, puts SPAB at the forefront of twenty-first century building conservation. As such, SPAB is a provider of respected conservation training, technical information and statutory advice for listed buildings.
These roles remain vital, but we are in a period of great change, with heritage services in the public sector under enormous pressure. Sad though this is, if the great gains made in building conservation over the last half century are not to be reversed it is vital that organisations like SPAB rise to the challenge. I feel passionately that SPAB has much to offer homeowners, local authorities and to the communities whose role in the management of the historic environment is due to expand under the governments Localism agenda. I intend to make it a priority to ensure that all are aware of the help and advice we can provide.
And further congratulations are due to Fellow Julian Richards on the news that his team has been awarded a Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the work of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, which he heads, and particularly for the work of the Archaeology Data Service, of which he is the Director. Julian says: this is good news for archaeology in general, and it provides significant and timely external recognition for the valuable work of the ADS in preserving and sharing digital research data, and its impact on the wider public and professional community. For more on this, see the York University website.
Finally, we congratulate our Fellow Aidan Dodson who has just been elected Chairman of the Trustees of the Egypt Exploration Society. The EES has been the principal UK body sponsoring excavations in Egypt since it was founded in 1882.
Our late Fellow Sarah Markham was elected a Fellow in 1975 partly on the strength of her remarkable biography of her ancestor, the antiquary John Loveday, who made 126 separate tours around Great Britain, Ireland and the Low Countries between 1728 and 1765, keeping detailed notes of his experiences and describing buildings (particularly country houses and churches) and their contents. The account of his longest tour was edited by Sarah Markhams grandfather, and published by the Roxburgh Club in 1890, but the full value of his diaries was not appreciated until the appearance in 1984 of her own book, John Loveday of Caversham: life and tours of an eighteenth-century onlooker.
Lovedays papers became her consuming passion, and at the time of her death in 2003 (at the age of ninety-three), Sarah had nearly transcribed all of Lovedays journey notes, work that has now been completed and indexed by her sons, John and Francis Markham. The fruits of their joint labours can be seen on the John Loveday of Caversham website, where a sample transcript Tour 28, of 8 to 15 June 1733, taking in Windsor Castle, Eton, Hall Barn, Beaconsfield, Cannons, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court and Bushey Park can be read. The sample tour is typical of Lovedays wide-ranging interests, from philology and heraldry to architecture and painting. Anyone who would like access to the complete set of tours and indexes can go to the Contact Form page and e-mail a request to the Markham family.
Picture: West Horsley church looking east, by Edward Hassell (1827). Reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre.
Fellow Julian Pooley is the curator of this new exhibition (at The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking from 17 December 2011 to 19 February 2012, admission free) featuring watercolours by the prolific artists John Hassell (c 17671825) and his son Edward (181152), who produced between them more than 2,000 watercolours of Surrey buildings in a mere thirteen years (182033), capturing the face of the county almost two centuries ago. The exhibition will focus on watercolours of buildings in Woking and its neighbouring parishes and will draw on the rich collections of Hassell watercolours owned by Surrey History Centre in Woking and Lambeth Archives.
John Hassell was a topographical painter in the picturesque tradition who exhibited his first picture (of Stonehenge) at the Royal Academy aged just twenty-two. His artistic talents were put to good use with the travel books he produced and illustrated, including such works as Picturesque Rides and Walks within Thirty Miles of the British Metropolis (181718) and Excursions of Pleasure (1823) . Through such works, Johns fascination with Surrey developed and he produced at least 750 watercolours of the county in the last five years of his life. Following in his fathers footsteps, Edwards preference for church interiors captures the ancient furnishings of box pews and triple-decker pulpits that were so often swept aside by later restorations.
Julian says that many of their exquisite watercolours were produced in response to an increasing demand from gentlemen collectors, eager to add colour illustrations to their copies of Owen Manning and William Brays History and Antiquities of Surrey, which was published in three volumes between 1804 and 1814. The architectural detail that both artists included in their views of Surrey churches, houses, almshouses, schools and street scenes provides a valuable record of buildings that have changed radically or disappeared over the past two centuries.
It came as a surprise to many Fellows to learn from Salon 266 that Sir John Soanes tomb had turned into a mausoleum and moved to St Giles in the Fields. In fact, of course, the tomb is located in the churchyard at St Pancras old cemetery.
Fellows also pointed out the solecisms in Salon 266s references to Lord Richard Attenborough and Lady Judith Goodison. Salon will strive to get it right in future (see Illuminating Stonehenge, above, for example).
In Books by Fellows: Philip Larkin: letters to Monica, Salon 266 gave the impression that the book was published by Faber & Faber alone. As our Fellow Richard Ovenden, Deputy Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, proudly points out, it was jointly published by Faber and the Bodleian. The Library successfully completed a major fundraising exercise in 2006 to acquire nearly 2,000 letters (liberally sprinkled with Larkins cartoons), cards, poems and photographs sent by Larkin to his friend and confidante, Monica Jones, between 1946 and 1984 and to prevent them from being dispersed. Bringing them to Oxford reunites them with Monicas letters to Philip, which form part of the Bodleians Larkin collections.
Our Fellow John Owen says that the report in Salon 265 saying that a satisfactory solution was in sight to the fate of two flags surviving from the Battle of Trafalgar was overly optimistic. National and local groups are maintaining their campaign of objection to the faculty application and opposition to the desire of St Mary the Virgin, Selling, in Kent, to dispose of the flags. Salon gave the impression that the flags would be donated to the National Maritime Museum; apparently this is not the case: the NMM will be invited to purchase them, placing strain on a publicly funded institution and further encouraging the idea that churches can sell artefacts that were donated to them. Salons suggestion that the flags are too fragile for display is contradicted by the conservation report on the flags which simply says that they need cleaning at the relatively modest cost of £8,000.
Above all, say objectors, the flags are an integral and original part of the 1930s chapel furnishings, along with the six Hilton monuments from the early eighteenth century to 1989 and two Victorian stained-glass windows. The flags are a war memorial to all those 600,000 Englishmen who died in the Great French Wars from 1795 to 1815, a war that is very rarely commemorated in English churches. The flags connect the local community directly to great national events in a highly visually evocative way. They illustrate and interpret the past in a real and not artificially contrived, and often remote, museum environment. Moreover, it roots these events to a church, somewhere that most people ignore.
Fellows in East Kent continue to oppose the faculty vigorously, says John, and they are grateful for the support that they have received so far.
To that growing list we can now add Fellow Nathalie Cohen, who manages to wear two separate tweeting hats. Nathalie tweets about general archaeology news in her capacity as Cathedral Archaeologist for Southwark Cathedral and as a member of the National Trusts South East team. She also tweets about community archaeology and her work with the Thames Discovery Programme.
By following the tweets of Fellow David Gill you can keep up to date with Mediterranean archaeology and the history and ethics of collecting classical antiquity but also, thanks to his skill at the tweeting game, you can also follow the tweets of all the tweeting Fellows listed in Salon so far at Davids sub-site, if that is the correct technical term!
Fellow Richard Morris reports that our Fellow Harry Sunley, his friend and neighbour, died peacefully on 23 November 2011 at Myton Hospice, Warwick, at the age of eighty-seven. Elected a Fellow on 1 May 1997, Harry was declared Kenilworths Citizen of the Year in 2005 (Salons picture shows him receiving the honour from Kenilworths mayor) for his dedication to researching and chronicling for posterity a detailed segment of the towns history.
A chartered engineer, educated at Eastbourne College and Hull University, Harry Sunley spent most of his working life in the aerospace industry specialising in rocket engine development. He retired in 1981 to become Kenilworths Town Clerk for six years, being a prime mover in the twinning of the town with Bourg-la-Reine. He was a founder member of the Kenilworth History and Archaeological Society, formed in 1982, and served as Chairman for several years, before becoming its very active President. His research into the history of Kenilworths medieval abbey of St Mary was the basis of several books and for the displays and artefacts on display in the ruined abbeys Barn Museum.
There is something of a London theme to this part of Salon, starting with the first of two recently published books by John Schofield: London 11001600: the archaeology of a capital city (ISBN 9781908049728; Equinox). This book represents the summation of the authors encyclopaedic knowledge of the archaeology of medieval London and takes in the formidable amount of recording and study that has taken place in the city between 1970 and 2010, including major excavations on the sites of the capitals former monasteries and royal palaces, hospitals, theatres, houses large and small, the waterfront, bridges, cathedral, Tower and Guildhall.
The book opens by sketching in the early medieval (pre-1100) history, and the establishment of focal points (such as London Bridge and Edward the Confessors abbey) within the landscape of a city that had mostly been cleared of buildings in the late Roman period, so that very little survived from Londinium to influence the topography of the medieval city. A series of thematic chapters then follows, on such topics as public buildings, royal places, houses, neighbourhoods, crafts, markets, inns, transport, trade, religion and health.
John Schofield synthesises a huge volume of archaeology to produce this coherent account, packed with detail and fascinating visual evidence, and much enlivened by the authors own observations for example, on exotic imported foods and whether Londoners had different diets from other parts of England, or on the impact of communities of aliens on the city, including Jewish financiers, and Italian, French and Spanish merchants, or on the effect of London on its hinterland.
John Schofields second book is concerned with one of medieval Britains largest buildings (in terms of space enclosed) and one of the largest in Europe. St Paul’s Cathedral Before Wren (ISBN 9781848020566; English Heritage) provides the first ever comprehensive account of the archaeology and history of this great church from Roman times to 1675, when construction work on Wrens masterpiece began.
The story of the building that dominated the medieval capital has been pieced together from documentary evidence, graphic sources (including the Societys own Gipkyn diptych) and previous studies, but principally from archaeological work that has taken place between 1969 and 2006 largely keyhole archaeology rather than area excavation, making it all the more of a triumph that this story can be told.
Evidence for the Anglo-Saxon cathedral remains elusive, but the author holds out the hope that pockets of stratigraphy may yet survive that include Saxon features. The rebuilding of 1087, intended to rival Winchester and influenced by St-Étienne (the Abbaye aux Hommes) in Caen, can be traced with much more certainty, both in plan and in elevation. Successive modifications led to the cathedral reaching its fullest form in 1300, with its 40-ft spire and great east gable rose window and shrine to St Erkenwald, a building that stood comparison with the great cathedrals of Paris, Florence and Cologne. The book also looks in detail at subsequent developments, such as the restoration work carried out by Inigo Jones, and the Renaissance portico that he added in 163342, fragments of which, encrusted with soot from the Great Fire, were found as recently as 1996.
This is a major London building about which most of us know precious little, partly because we are so dazzled by the splendour, interest and fame of its post-Fire replacement, though with the publication of this book there is no longer any excuse for not knowing a great deal.
In the same week that we welcome Phillip Emery to the Fellowship (elected in last Thursdays ballot), we also note the publication of his report on the excavation of St Pancras Burial Ground (ISBN 9780956940605; MOLA for Gifford), written with Kevin Wooldridge.
This concerns the southernmost part of the New Burying Ground at St Pancras churchyard, in use from 1792 to 1854, and thus it gives us an account of the population of this parish on the northern edge of London at a time of rapid growth and industrialisation one consequence of which was the nearby siting of St Pancras Station and the disturbance of thousands of burials in 18667, during the construction of a tunnel and viaduct for the Midland Railway, and whose development as the Eurostar terminus was the event that led to the cemeterys archaeological excavation in 20023.
The report looks in detail at the results of full osteological analysis of 715 of the 1,383 excavated burials a cross-section of the heterogeneous population of St Pancras, with the unusual difference that inscribed coffin plates have enabled specific individuals to be identified. They include twenty-four people who came to London as refugees from the French Revolution, including Archbishop Dillon of Narbonne and Bishop Belbeuf of Avranches, whose remains have since been repatriated and re-interred.
Among the reports main conclusions are the noticeable rise in burials, in mass graves, associated with the documented cholera epidemics from 1828, and the high rates of both tooth decay and growth retardation amongst many of those studied, reflecting the poverty of many of the parishs inhabitants. The authors remark that this might not have been at all apparent to anyone visiting the New Burying Ground, as many of the gravestones and memorials that set the tone and character of the crowded early nineteenth-century cemetery were those of Catholic and Jacobite aristocrats and gentry. The epitaphs and lavish tombstones (later dissociated from their graves after the cemetery was laid out as a public garden) emphasised not just sadness at the loss of the individual being commemorated, but a more general sense of persecution and fracture, a poignant sense that noble causes had been lost and old spiritual and religious values abandoned.
Only four issues ago, Salon 263 reported on Fellow David Pearsons Books as History, published by the British Library where he once worked as curator on the Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue project. Since 2009, David has been Director of Culture, Heritage and Libraries at the City of London Corporation, and in that capacity has edited a new guide to Treasures from the Collections of the City of London (ISBN 9781857596991; Scala), a book that reveals just how rich and varied is the City of Londons extensive collection of documents, books and paintings, variously housed in the Guildhall Library, Guildhall Art Gallery, Mansion House, London Metropolitan Archives and Keats House.
Selected to illustrate the history of London and its role on the national and world stage, the treasures that feature in this book start with the oldest document in the Citys archives, William the Conquerors confirmation of the Citys liberties (1067), and range through the Citys copy of Magna Carta (issued in 1297), the deed for a house in Blackfriars signed by William Shakespeare, as well as books from Elizabeth Davids personal library, complete with waspish marginalia.
That last item, far from being unusual, typifies the serendipitous nature of the Citys extraordinary collections, which include City merchant Robert Fabyans copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), with 1,809 woodcuts by Dürers sometime master, Michael Wolgemut, and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, the libraries of Sir Thomas More, John Wilkes and Dick Whittington (four times Lord Mayor of London, between 1397 and 1419), a letter from the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor to the Chelsea Waterworks Company (1734), the hand-drawn outline of Karl Marxs foot made in the 1870s by Peal and Co, the bespoke bootmakers, and the beautifully illustrated business card (1755) of Robert Stone, nightman and rubbish-carter.
Fellow Philip Davies has followed up his surprise best-seller Lost London 18701945 with an even bigger book of photographs of Londons lost buildings, called Panoramas of Lost London (ISBN 9781907176722; English Heritage).
The book is based on 300 wide-format photographs commissioned by the wonderfully named Society for Photographing Relics of Old London) and the London County Council during the period from 1870 to the end of the Second World War. These pictures record in tangible pin-sharp detail the rapidly changing appearance of London at this time; and not just the buildings, but all sorts of contemporary detail, from clothing, hats and footwear to horse-drawn and petrol-engined vehicles, advertising messages, street furniture, shop fronts and goods for sale just the kind of social history detail that justifies the books subtitle, Work, Wealth, Poverty and Change 18701945.
Published by the London Borough of Twickenham Local History Society, The Coloured Mass: art and artists in the Twickenham area from Tudor times to the twenty-first century (ISBN 9780903341844;
The book takes us on a vividly constructed and scholarly journey through the art history of the Twickenham area, examining the lives and works of more than eighty resident and visiting artists (including sculptors and photographers), from the sixteenth century to the present, whose work has been inspired by the boroughs Thames-side landscapes and such historic houses and monuments as Marble Hill, Orleans House, York House, Popes Grotto, Strawberry Hill, Garricks Temple and Turners Sandycombe Lodge.
David says that the books intriguing title comes from Alexander Popes words Blend in Beautious Tints the Coloured Mass (Epistle to Mr Jervas, 1716), and the contents are no less evocatively described in the chapter titles: The Glory of God and the Splendour of Princes; Masters of the Baroque; Connoisseurship and High Art versus Portraiture; The Genius of Landscape and the Photographic Interlude; Expressionists, Collectors and Amateurs; Applied Art, Art Education and Abstract Art; and 21st-century Interpretations of Turners Riverside. Comprehensive appendix listings include specially drawn maps showing the locations of the ecclesiastical and other major buildings where the artists and their work were located in each century.
Fellows who attended David Allans lecture on 17 November 2011 on the activities of the antiquary Henry Baker (16981774) will know that David is Honorary President of the Royal Society of Arts William Shipley Group, a network of RSA Fellows working on aspects of the history of the RSA from its foundation in 1754 to the more recent past (see the WSG website). David himself is currently researching the links between our Society and the Royal Society of Arts and is in the process of compiling a checklist of persons who belonged (or belong) to both bodies. He would be very grateful if Fellows of our Society who are also Fellows of the RSA would let him know; equally he would be grateful for names that should be added to the list that Fellows might encounter in the course of their own research or know from personal knowledge (the list as it currently stands can be obtained by sending David an email).
The Historians of British Art invites applications for its publication grant for 2012. The HBA will award up to US$750 to offset the publication costs of a book in the field of British art or visual culture that has been accepted by a publisher. Applicants must be current members of HBA. The deadline is 15 January 2012. For further information see the HBA website.
21 January 2011: More New Insights into Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century British Architecture. There are still a few places available for this study day to be held at the Society of Antiquaries. The cost of the day (including lunch and refreshments) is £47.50. For more information contact one of the organisers: Fellows Claire Gapper and Paula Henderson.
25 February 2012: The Long View: place and prehistory in the Thames Valley, a Prehistoric Society Seminar to be held at the Society of Antiquaries. This one-day conference will look at the long-term histories of particular places or parts of the Thames valley, exploring the differing trajectories of settlement, land-use and ritual activity in different localities from the Mesolithic onwards, including the contrast between places which were intensively used during virtually every period, and those that were used more sporadically or less intensively at certain times. See the Prehistoric Societys website for a booking form and further details.
Later in the year, on 9 June 2012, the Prehistoric Societys Europa Conference will take place at the University of Reading and will honour our Fellow Richard Bradley for his lifelong contribution to European prehistory.
Wessex Archaeology, Director, Coastal and Marine Division
Salary negotiable; closing date 23 December 2011
Wessex Archaeology currently has forty Coastal and Marine specialists based in Salisbury, Edinburgh and Sheffield. The new Director will have the technical competence in coastal and marine archaeology and the ambition and capability to take this team to new sectors, markets and audiences around the world and generate a sustainable business in this challenging and very diverse sector. Excellent organisational, communication, leadership and team-building skills are essential, as is a full current driving licence and appropriate professional qualifications and/or membership of an appropriate professional body.
The application form can be downloaded from the Wessex Archaeology website.
English Heritage, Heritage Protection Director
Salary £70k plus, dependent upon experience; closing date 13 January 2012
This post is one of the critical positions in the heritage sector. As Heritage Protection Director for English Heritage, you will be pivotal in the development and implementation of the National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP), which defines the overall programme for protecting and enhancing the historic environment, prioritising resources and leading the engagement of external parties on which its success depends.
With impeccable heritage credentials you will provide expert input into the plan and lead our highly committed team of 150 professional Heritage Protection staff located across the country in the delivery of the NHPP. To be successful in this role you will need to be an accomplished leader, have a proven track record of engaging and motivating large multidisciplinary teams of staff around a clear vision and embedding new working practices and culture. You will also relish close working with colleagues as part of the management team. With excellent communication skills, a high-standard academic or professional qualification in architectural history, archaeology, or a related subject you will have significant practical experience in at least one of these fields and a profound understanding of research methods and their application.
To find out more, see the English Heritage English Heritage website.