Salon Archive

Issue: 124

Forthcoming meetings

The Society’s first meeting of the autumn season will take place on 6 October 2005, when Dr Kevin Brown will talk about Building with Boldness: a Stonehenge for the twenty-first century.

Online balloting

The meeting on the following week, on 13 October, will take the form of a ballot and Fellows will, for the first time be able to choose between voting the eighteenth-century way — in person, with balls and ballot boxes in the Society’s meeting room — and voting the twenty-first century way — using the internet (not forgetting postal voting, which also remains an option).

In order to keep the balloting system secure, you will need a user name and password to gain access; these will be sent to Fellows on 20 September by email. If you haven’t received yours by the end of the day, it is very likely that the email has been rejected as spam, in which case you can send an email to Salon’s editor and an alternative method will be used to send out the password.

The three-word passwords have been generated in the form ‘adjective adjective noun’ by selecting randomly from a long list of adjectives and nouns. We chose this method because it yields passwords that are memorable, as well as secure, but the system allows you to change your password if you would prefer a different one. We also hope that Fellows will not take it ill if the password they receive is unintentionally humorous; it is surprising how many double entendres have been generated by this method of password generation, but we have sifted out the worst examples, for fear of running foul of spam filters designed to block ‘inappropriate language’.

We believe we are the first learned society to develop an online balloting system (which can also be used for taking out Blue Papers and signing Blue Papers. The system has been designed to be as easy to use as possible, and we hope that online balloting will soon become second nature to internet-using Fellows (about a third of the Fellowship) so as to make nominating and electing suitable candidates for Fellowship as painless and as efficient as possible.

Online questionnaire

This week’s mailing of the autumn calendar and newsletter also contains a questionnaire, which is designed to help the General Secretary to construct a profile of the interests and activities of Fellows. You can save time and the cost of an envelope and postage stamp by completing the questionnaire on line, simply by going to the Fellows’ side of the website.


Three recently deceased Fellows were the subject of obituaries in the national press this week (from which the following edited extracts are taken): Godfrey Goodwin, described in The Times as an ‘hospitable scholar who became a leading authority on Ottoman architecture and Turkish culture’, John Hunter, whom The Times characterised as an ‘architect who fought to save the Essex landscape from the greed of post-war developers’, and Myles Hildyard, portrayed in The Independent as the ‘Lord Merlin of Flintham and author of a vivid account of the Second World War’.

Godfrey Goodwin, who died on 19 August 2005, aged 84, was the author of the History of Ottoman Architecture, first published in 1971 and now in its fourth edition, which was the first comprehensive study of the subject and remains the definitive reference work. After war service in Algiers and Italy, he fell in love with Rome and lived a bohemian life there during the 1940s until the necessity of earning a living drew him to teaching jobs at Winchester, London, Alexandria and eventually Istanbul. Here he decided ‘to explore every nook and cranny of Ottoman architecture and also the people who lived here over many centuries’. This study began in earnest in 1957 when he taught in Istanbul at the English High School for Boys and later at Robert College, the precursor of Bogaziçi (Bosporus) University. In Istanbul he met his wife, Gillian, and the birth of their son in 1969 brought them back to London, where Godfrey embarked on the writing of his magnum opus.

Reviewing that book, Antonio Fernández-Puertas, the historian of the Alhambra in Granada, praised Goodwin’s ability to explain the space that architectural structures envelop: ‘He described to perfection the articulation of the parts of a building in the service of its principal element: a vault or a cupola’.

The Goodwins’ house in Primrose Hill, London, radiated Turkish warmth and generosity, and evenings there were memorable affairs. Filled, sometimes from basement to first floor, with artists, architects, art dealers and historians, students and figures from unexpected backgrounds, it had a magical atmosphere. Gillian, in Turkish trousers and headscarf, contributed her part: an authority on Elizabethan cooking and author of an unpublished book on the seventeenth-century housewife, she used friends as guinea pigs for research in the kitchen.

After retirement from teaching, Goodwin worked as a librarian for the Royal Asiatic Society, and during this time found the calm to concentrate again on his field of expertise. He wrote scholarly articles, edited Ottaviano Bon’s The Sultan’s Seraglio (1996) and published Islamic Spain (1990), Sinan: Ottoman Architecture and its Values Today (1993), The Private World of Ottoman Women (1997), The Janissaries (1997), Topkapi Palace: an Illustrated Guide to its Life and Personalities (1999), and his memoir, Life’s Episodes (2002).

John Hunter died on 2 July 2005, aged 73. He too discovered the inspiration for his future life in Rome, after a visit to the British School, which led to a love of classicism and to a Cambridge degree in architecture. After periods with the London County Council and with the Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall partnership, he took a postgraduate planning course at the Architectural Association before being appointed countryside planning officer for Essex County Council. He took up this post in 1970, just when that county’s rich landscape and legacy of ancient hedges, trees, fine timber-framed structures and wildlife were under threat from urbanisation, modern farming and forestry practice, and the disaster of Dutch elm disease. From then on, Hunter’s mission was to save Essex.

His publication, The Essex Landscape — a landscape in decline? (1972), defined the problem. Hunter assembled a team of dedicated professionals and launched his Landscape Conservation Plan, in collaboration with the Countryside Commission. This covered rural lanes and the replanting of woods, and emphasised the combined importance of wildlife, architecture and landscape.

In Hunter’s hands, Essex became a leader in countryside management and an inspiration to others, particularly farmers. Oliver Rackham, FSA, the pre-eminent woodland and landscape historian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, puts his achievement well: ‘If there are still wild or secret or historic places even within twenty miles of London, that is largely due to the energy, understanding and diplomacy of John Hunter and his department.’

The exciting years of the 1970s and 1980s inspired him to write his highly praised book Land into Landscape (1985), which traced his subject from Mesopotamia through Greece and Rome to Essex. His book The Essex Landscape was published in 1999; he spent six years on the National Trust regional committee and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1993.

Myles Hildyard, who died on 13 August 2005, at the age of 90, was a man of letters and a resourceful soldier who looked on the Second World War as the most interesting years of his life. Sent to the Western Desert to face the Italians in Libya at the outbreak of war, he took every opportunity to visit the archaeological sites in Palestine, Syria and Egypt. Despatched to Crete for coastal-defence duties in February 1941, his idyll was brought an abrupt halt with the German airborne invasion of Crete in May that year. Forced to surrender, he eventually escaped from his prisoner-of-war camp and spent three months in hiding before escaping to Turkey, for which he was awarded the Military Cross. Reporting back to the Sherwood Rangers in the Western Desert, he explored Beirut, Baalbec, Cairo and Damascus before being recruited to the HQ 10th Armoured Division as an intelligence officer, surviving the battles of Alam Halfa and El Alamein in the summer of 1942, and being mentioned in dispatches. As if this were not adventure enough for one man, he took part in the early stages of the Italian campaign on the intelligence staff of 7th Armoured Division, and returned with it to England in January 1944 to prepare for the Normandy invasion. He witnessed the reconquest of Holland and Belgium, the surrender of Hamburg and the looting of Goering’s palace in Berlin, and was mentioned in dispatches again in 1945 and appointed MBE for his services on the staff of 7th Armoured Division.

After the war Myles Hildyard devoted his energies and considerable talents to Flintham Hall, his ancestral home in Nottinghamshire, which he formally inherited in 1956 at the death of his father. The house, originally Jacobean, was rebuilt by the Hildyard family in a classical style in 1820, adding an extension by Lewis Wyatt in 1829; it was then faced in stone and remodelled and again extended in the Italian palatial style by the Nottinghamshire architect Thomas Hine in 1852 when it was given a remarkable conservatory, a fantasy of stone, glass and cast-iron nearly fifty feet high which is attached at the end of the great library. The result has been described as ‘perhaps the most gloriously romantic Victorian house in England’.

Hildyard restored the main rooms to their Victorian splendour. He transformed the gardens and woods and took immense care to preserve the village. Nobody built a garage, or put in a window, that was not in keeping. His determination caused difficulty at the time — conservation has never been fashionable — but its results are greatly appreciated now. Flintham was, for the years Myles Hildyard was its guardian, a most remarkable place to visit. Not just because of the beauty and richness of its physical surroundings, but also because he himself was so remarkable a person. ‘He was, in a way,’ writes Antony Beevor, ‘the local equivalent of Nancy Mitford’s Lord Merlin.’

Outside Flintham, as well as being active in the National Trust and the Historic Buildings Trust, he was a founding member in 1949 and for many years chairman of the Nottinghamshire branch of the Council (now Campaign) for the Preservation of Rural England. As a keen and accomplished local historian, he was President of the Thoroton Society, founded in honour of his ancestor Robert Thoroton, author of The Antiquities of Nottinghamshire (1677), for more than forty years, and he wrote detailed histories of both the Hildyard and the Thoroton families, as well as a history of Flintham village. In 1975 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

But his greatest literary achievement is to be found in the wartime letters he wrote to his family and the diary he kept of his escape from Crete: a compilation of these is to be published next month, under the title It is Bliss Here: letters home 1939—45.

Consultation on the Hague Convention

As a result of pressure applied by the Society of Antiquaries, the CBA, the IFA and many other heritage bodies in the wake of the looting in Iraq in 2003, the UK Government publicly announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and accede to both its protocols on 14 May 2004, the fiftieth anniversary of the Convention. The Hague Convention involves two commitments: a general commitment to protect the cultural property of other nations in the event of war and a specific commitment to protect the UK’s own heritage from the consequences of armed conflict. This second commitment is now being given as the reason why the UK Government did not ratify the Convention fifty years ago: in 1954, it was not considered by the Government of the day that the UK had in place an effective regime for the protection of cultural property.

Whether they were right or not is now for history to judge, but the present Government has decided that the existing designation systems in place in the UK do now provide a sufficient framework for acceding to the Convention, whilst accepting that there are still complex questions for implementation in the UK because the legislation and administrative arrangements concerning both the movable and the immovable cultural heritage in the UK differs in each of the four nations of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Consequently the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published a consultation document setting out how it sees those differences being reconciled, and seeking comments on how the Hague Convention can be implemented in each of the four Home Countries to take account of national circumstances.

The consultation suggests that the protection afforded by the Convention should be extended to listed buildings of Grade I status (category A in Scotland and Northern Ireland), consisting of some 7,000 list entries in England and Wales and 3,650 in Scotland; listed historic parks and gardens of Grade I status in England, consisting of some 126 list entries; UK World Heritage Sites inscribed for their cultural value, but excluding those inscribed as natural sites, consisting of some 22 sites; national museums and gallery collections (ie those that are directly sponsored or funded by Government), museums, galleries and universities in England with ‘designated collections’ and in Scotland with ‘important collections’, and the National Record Offices and the five legal deposit libraries.

The Society of Antiquaries has been specifically asked to contribute its views to the consultation and is listed in the consultation paper as a consultee, so David Gaimster, our General Secretary, would be very grateful for comments from Fellows.

Two concerns have already identified by those who attended the seminar to launch the consultation last week: the fact that designated archaeological sites, other than World Heritage Sites, are not included in this provisional list (it is not possible to include all Scheduled Ancient Monuments as these are too numerous, and there is currently no UK-wide mechanism for agreeing which key sites are most worthy of protection), and libraries and archives are significantly under-represented in the proposals for protection.

Details of the consultation are given on the DCMS website. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 2 December 2005.

SAVE’s thirtieth anniversary

Last week’s Country Life (8 September 2005) features a portrait of our fellow Marcus Binney looking pensive, in moody black and white, standing amidst the debris that was once the majestic entrance front to Highhead Castle in Cumbria. The photograph accompanies an article reminding us that it is thirty years since Marcus and like-minded friends set up SAVE Britain’s Heritage to campaign for the better treatment of the UK’s built environment. A free exhibition reviewing thirty years of campaigning by SAVE will be mounted at the RIBA/Heinz Architecture Gallery in the Victoria and Albert Museum from 2 November 2005 until 12 February 2006. Meanwhile Country Life is asking members of the public to nominate houses they know about that are in need of rescue: full details are to be found on the Country Life website.

Salon’s editor is full of admiration for the tireless efforts of Marcus and his colleagues at SAVE over the last three decades. Looking through the numerous vigorously expressed and lucidly argued reports that have poured out of SAVE since 1975, one is struck by the way that Government and developers never seem to learn. SAVE’s very first report was published in New Society magazine in December 1976 under the title ‘The Concrete Jerusalem: the failure of the Clean Sweep’. The report looked at post-war redevelopment in Liverpool, London and Portsmouth and showed that, despite the vast sums being lavished on the demolition of historic buildings in favour of new buildings, these clearance schemes had failed to deliver the promised planning and social gains; yet today we have exactly the same programmes of clearance and rebuilding in many northern English cities, under the new rosy-sounding title of the Pathfinder scheme.

Other reports of the 1970s and 1980s campaigned on behalf of non-conformist places of worship, for public parks and gardens, for Turkish baths, swimming pools and lidos, for textile mills and railway heritage. An organisation that began by being concerned for the polite architecture of the large country house fought as vigorously for the disappearing vernacular and industrial heritage of Gateshead, Leeds, Manchester, Burnley and Hull. As far back as 1980, SAVE reports highlighted the threat to the conservation of historic buildings posed by the unequal VAT regime, proved that sensitively restored historic buildings converted to offices fetched higher rents and were a better long-term investment than new office buildings and demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt (in Preservation Pays) that the heritage makes an enormous contribution to this country’s economy.

All this is a timely reminder that many of the ideas and arguments for the heritage that today’s generation of policy wonks believe that they have minted are in fact drawn from ideas that were already current thirty years ago. More recently SAVE has shown where a future battle ground for conservationists lies, in highlighting the threat to the built environment of many Eastern European and former Soviet Block countries posed by the rapid pace of development that has accompanied EU modernisation grants and economic liberalisation.

SAVE has served for three decades as a ginger group for the rest of the heritage community, and as a training ground for some of today’s more doughty heritage advocates. SAVE has also been brave enough not to go with the flow: only last month, senior heritage professionals accused SAVE of endangering the future of Toddington Manor in Gloucestershire by opposing the Warner company’s plan to turn the Gothic Revival mansion into the centrepiece of a huge holiday village. Last week’s news that Damien Hirst was buying the manor and planned a sympathetic restoration vindicated SAVE’s principled stand, just as the campaign to save Smithfield Market in the face of high-powered political opposition paid off last year when the undesignated parts of the market were finally listed.

So in default of that perfect world where SAVE’s message is finally embraced by all planners, developers and politicians, and where the organisation’s efforts are no longer necessary, we must all be grateful for the past thirty years and wish Marcus and his team all the best for the next thirty.

Is the National Trust in danger of losing its soul?

A perfect example of SAVE’s refusal to swim with the tide appeared in The Times on 6 September when Marcus Binney, in his guise as that newspaper’s Architecture Correspondent, was brave enough to write what others have thought but not dared to say: that the National Trust seems recently to have lost its sense of purpose and direction. Of course he did not put it quite like that, but there was no doubt that his devastating condemnation of the Trust’s new ‘Central Office’ building (it is now not politically correct to use the term ‘headquarters’ because of its implications of militaristic hierarchy) was in reality a subtle critique of the decision makers at the helm of the Trust.

Describing the new Swindon office as ‘an outstanding eyesore’, and ‘the ugliest corporate building I have seen in a decade’, with its ‘lavatory-like grid of grey tiles’, Marcus made it clear that he had no quarrel with the decision to build an environmentally sound and sustainable structure, but that beauty and spirit seemed to have been left out of the architect’s brief. He also argued that a perfectly good and sustainable alternative already existed in Swindon that would have made this building unnecessary and been more in line with the Trust’s conservation principles: ‘If the National Trust had to go to Swindon’, he wrote, ‘what a tragedy that it did not take on Norman Foster’s glorious canary-yellow Renault distribution centre, the most festive building of 1980s Britain which now stands empty and cries out to be transformed into something exactly like the National Trust headquarters.’

After a detailed catalogue of the new building’s aesthetic and architectural shortcomings, Marcus concluded by quoting the words of the great novelist Angus Wilson, who wrote in 1973 that: ‘The National Trust is the nearest thing we have in these islands to a wholly admirable institution’, but said that the new building encapsulated nothing of the spirit and achievement that had motivated Wilson to write those words; instead the Swindon office reminded Marcus of Edmund Burke’s reflections on the French Revolution: ‘The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculaters [sic] has succeeded.’

In fact, it is difficult to find anyone at the moment who is not concerned at the current state of the National Trust, which is a remarkable turnaround from two years ago when membership was climbing into the stratosphere, when the Trust was being applauded for diversifying away from country houses into conserving workhouses, terraced houses and back-to-backs and when some imaginative decisions were being made about the centrality of education to the Trust’s goals. This summer has seen the Trust bemired in controversy over its plans to develop landholdings at Cliveden, criticised by the Prince of Wales, amongst others, for its decision to split up one of the Lake District farms bequeathed by Beatrix Potter, accused of disgraceful and cold-hearted behaviour and of adopting the ‘harsher practices of the commercial world’ by the Express for charging residents who live around Minchinhampton and Amberley Commons £9,000 each to buy access to their properties (over land that the Trust might not even own), and described by Kirsty Walk on Newsnight as having poor staff and volunteer relations and very low morale as a result of job cuts and the Swindon move.

These and related concerns were touched upon in The Guardian on 14 September when Rodney Legg, a former trustee of the National Trust and Chairman of the Open Spaces Society (which is a direct descendant of the Commons Preservation Society, one of the founders of the trust in 1895), wrote a passionate article under the title ‘Breach of trust’, arguing that the Trust’s new constitution had wrecked ‘an extraordinary century-old exercise in representative democracy’ and turned ‘Europe’s largest environmental charity’ into ‘the National Trust plc’.

Under its new system of governance, he said, the twenty-six trustees who were formerly appointed ‘ex officio’ as representatives of key conservation charities will no longer sit on the Trust’s main decision-making forum. Instead, a new twelve-member inner cabinet of ‘super-trustees’ will govern the day-to-day business of the Trust, and the existing fifty-two-member council will instead act as ‘the trust’s conscience’ in giving ‘advice and guidance’ to trustees and being responsible for ‘holding the trustees to account’ by ‘focusing on fewer bigger issues rather than working through the tyranny of an agenda’. In effect this is a meaningless sop, Rodney Legg argues, because constitutional hurdles mean that it is virtually impossible for the lesser body to enforce its decisions on the inner council.

Exercising his right to reply in The Guardian the following day, the Trust’s Chairman, Sir William Proby, gave a predictable catalogue of the Trust’s recent achievements, but failed to address the central accusation: that the Trust has lost touch with the wider conservation movement and is acting in a way that is corporate rather than democratic, managerial rather than conservationist.

Let us hope that Rodney Legg is wrong in predicting friction between staff and senior management (a recent survey showed that only 15 per cent of staff ‘feel that senior managers are in touch with what is happening on the ground’), and between the members of the old council and the new trustees. For the Trust to have acquired such a tarnished image in recent months calls for urgent attention, as any loss of support from members and volunteers, on whose goodwill, money and efforts the Trust very much depends, can only exacerbate the organisation’s problems.

The Easton Neston model

Back to Country Life again, and an article (this time in the 25 August edition) on the Royal Institute of British Architects’ recent acquisition of the famous model of the house at Easton Neston, in Northamptonshire. Our Fellow, Charles Hind, Assistant Director (Special Collections) and H J Heinz Curator of Drawings at the RIBA British Architectural Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is justly proud of having played a leading role in raising the £176,000 (plus VAT) needed to acquire the model, which, he says, ‘has been pretty near the top of my hit list for years’. The model was secured for the V&A when it came on the market in May this year, thanks to the great generosity of the museum’s supporters, including the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the British Architectural Library Trust and the Museums, Libraries and Archives PRISM Fund.

The model is traditionally attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor and is the most important of the three surviving domestic seventeenth-century English architectural models and the only one of the three (until May) in private hands. Easton Neston was begun about 1695 and completed in 1702 and is one of the most powerful smaller baroque houses in England, with a remarkable plan. The significant difference between the model and the house as built has always intrigued architectural historians, for while the interior follows the model very closely, the exterior is very different.

The acquisition has sparked new theories about the history of the house and a reconsideration of the possible architectural attributions. The Country Life article, written by our Fellow Giles Worsley, proposes that the model is not Hawksmoor’s at all, but represents a design by William Talman (fl 1670—1700), the difficult and quarrelsome Comptroller of the King’s Works (and father to John Talman, appointed first Director of the Society of Antiquaries in 1718, about whom see more below under ‘Conferences, talks and seminars’). Dr Worsley suggests that Talman was subsequently replaced by Hawksmoor, who essentially built the house to Talman’s plan but with a completely different exterior design.

The model is presently on display on the landing of the Architecture Gallery at the museum, but will form the centrepiece of an exhibition in the new RIBA/V&A Architecture Exhibition Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2007, looking at the respective contributions of Christopher Wren, Talman and Hawksmoor to the English baroque, 1660—1700.

Search for Saxon rotunda leads to a flagpole

Earlier this summer Salon reported on the excitement surrounding the discovery of a large circular feature close to Leominster parish church by the Friends of Leominster Priory who, as part of a Local Heritage Initiative project to try and reconstruct the appearance of the Priory in its heyday, had commissioned a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the nearby car park. The survey revealed a large circular void surrounded by a wall, which The Times and The Archaeologist both reported as a possible Saxon baptistery, reliquary chapel or royal mausoleum.

Sadly, this was not to be: excavations carried out during August — directed by Bruce Watson, of the Museum of London Archaeology Service and Peter Busby of English Heritage — revealed the importance of remaining agnostic until the evidence is available upon which to base a firm conclusion. The ‘rotunda’ apparent on the GPR survey turned out to be the rubble foundation for a vehicle-turning circle built around an early twentieth-century flagpole. The apparent depth of the feature on the GPR was caused by the presence below its eastern arc of parts of the cloistral range of the later Benedictine Priory (established 1123 and suppressed in 1539).

Nevertheless, Saxon evidence was uncovered: Bruce reports that the earliest features to be located by the evaluation trench were a series of ditches and pits, sealed by an extensive build-up of external soil dumps, which contained a wide variety of large and small animal bones, suggesting that the area was used as a midden during the Saxon period. The intention of this dumping was probably to level up the steep natural slope leading down to the former course of the Pinsley Brook to the north.

The Friends of Leominster Priory have also gathered additional information for their model — excavation of the western arm of the Priory cloisters established for the first time the location and some of the dimensions of the cloister, whose garth or garden was used to store and sort salvaged material from the demolished Priory after the Dissolution: hundreds of fragments of broken glazed medieval floor tiles were discarded here, mostly cream and dark green in colour and presumably laid chequer-board fashion. Quarrying and robbing at the site continued for more than a century: even the deep masonry foundations of the buildings attached to the western side of the cloisters were robbed, with clay-tobacco pipe bowls recovered from the backfill of these trenches dating from the period 1650 to 1675.

Excavating the remains of Worcester’s cloth trade

Evidence of Worcester’s internationally important wool-processing industry has come to light over the summer in one of the biggest excavations to take place in the city in recent years, a collaboration between Cotswold Archaeology and archaeologists from Worcestershire County Council. The site, on Newport Street, encompasses sixteen medieval properties and the team has identified medieval dye tanks, hearths and flues in the cellars and backyard workshops where large vats for dyeing cloth were once heated. Many wells have also been found that provided the large volumes of water needed for the washing and dyeing of cloth.

At a time when much of the wool produced in England was sent overseas for weaving and finishing, Worcester developed its own wool-processing industries, and was renowned for the quality of its broadcloth: 8,000 people, half of the city’s population, was involved in cloth production in the fifteenth century, and Leland wrote that ‘the welthe of the towne stands the most on draping, and noe towne of England, at the present tyme, makes so many cloathes yearly’. The current excavation, which will continue for another six months, expects to produce new evidence of the processes, structures and organisation of the trade.

The medieval properties overlie extensive deposits of iron slag, which is being interpreted as Roman waste, dumped along the riverbank and in the river itself to create a causeway across the river. Early maps show that this Roman causeway evolved into the site of the city’s medieval bridge, connecting Worcester to the Marches and Wales, until 1780, when the present bridge was completed slightly to the south of the present site.

Newport Street then became a backwater and the grand seventeenth-century clothiers’ houses, subdivided and converted to crowded tenements, became a notorious slum. Drunkenness was a constant problem and the rector of the parish, the Revd J Macrae, was often called upon to resolve disputes — which the 6ft 4in-tall Scot apparently did by making good use of his broad shoulders and iron fists!

A new career with English Heritage: as pub landlord

Byland Abbey, near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, was one of the largest Cistercian monasteries in England before the Dissolution, and renowned in its day for its largesse: the Duke of Norfolk remarked that it exercised more hospitality than any other religious house in the region. Now English Heritage is to maintain that tradition in the organisation’s new and non-traditional role as pub landlord, following its acquisition of the Abbey Inn, the first public house that the organisation has ever owned.

English Heritage paid £865,000 for the pub, which stands in the grounds of Byland Abbey, and was built in 1845 as a commercial venture by Benedictine monks who run nearby Ampleforth Abbey and College. All twenty of the pub’s staff will continue to work at the Grade II* listed inn and the former owner, Jane Nordlie, will stay as caretaker manager until a replacement is appointed.

David Bailey, English Heritage’s head of visitor operations for the North York Moors and North Yorkshire coast, said: ‘It will provide us with a valuable source of income and help us preserve some of the most spectacular buildings in the area. While other organisations such as the National Trust have taken on the running of pubs, this is a first for us.’

Lecture on medieval burials wins heritage award

The first ever Heritage Research Presentation Award, designed to encourage archaeologists to communicate their research findings to a non-specialist audience in engaging and accessible ways, has been won by Matthew Seaver for his account of work at Raystown, County Meath, Ireland, an early medieval site where the remains of over 100 burials dating from the fifth to the tenth centuries AD show diverse burial customs.

Each of the six shortlisted candidates gave a presentation on their work to members of the public at the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) Festival of Science held at Trinity College, Dublin, on 8 September 2005. An expert panel chaired by our Fellow Julian Richards, the writer and broadcaster, judged the presentations. The runner-up was Anne Carey, with her account of the life and achievements of Harold G Leask, the first Inspector of National Monuments in the newly founded Irish Free State. The winner and runner up receive a cash prize of £1,500 and £500 respectively.

Our Fellow Sebastian Payne, Chief Scientist at English Heritage, the principal organiser and sponsor of the award, said: ‘English Heritage believes that people’s care and value for the historic environment come from a better understanding of it. Science and research, and the ability to communicate them effectively to a wide and diverse audience, is key to engendering this understanding.’

All Europe comes to Cork

Our Fellow, Alison Taylor, says she is busy thinking of ways to spend more time in Ireland after being bowled over by Irish hospitality while attending this year’s gathering of nearly 800 archaeologists in Cork, on 5—11 September for the European Association of Archaeologists peripatetic annual conference. The numerous social events and the richly interesting tours of early medieval Kerry (sixth- to twelfth-century religious buildings and inscribed crosses on the lake isle of Church Island) and prehistoric Cork (Bronze Age copper mines of Mt Gabriel), led by John Sheehan (University College Cork) and William O’Brian (University College Galway), were, of course, the icing on the cake of over sixty lecture sessions (each of seven to fifteen talks) and round tables, on subjects ranging from remote sensing to skull modification. New academic research mingled with professional issues, all seeming much more fresh with an international slant. Alison’s favourites included a day looking at the latest discoveries on prehistoric (ie up to about AD 1000!) funerary rites in Scandinavia and another looking at deviant burial practices, where pictures of wounds inflicted on the latest Irish bog bodies stole the show.

Our Fellow Pete Hinton adds that not all the sessions concerned death and burial. One over-crowded room reviewed current approaches to archaeological quality management in Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and the UK. As ever the balance between state regulation and self regulation was markedly different between north-western and Mediterranean Europe; and (as ever) only the trans-Atlantic ‘Europeans’ comprehended why excavation licences (which are an adjunct to either state or self-regulation everywhere else in Europe, including all of Ireland) do not fit in the Great British tradition.

If this account of the Cork conference has whetted your appetite, you can find details of next year’s conference — to be held in Cracow — on the European Association of Archaeologists’ website.

Conferences, lectures and seminars

The Wallace Collection Seminars in the History of Collecting
Dr Henrietta McCall will lead a seminar on the topic of Collecting and the Assyrian Revival: Victorian design in the Assyrian style, on 21 September 2005, at 4.30pm at the Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London. Of all the nineteenth-century revivals, the Assyrian revival is perhaps the least well known. Henrietta McCall of the British Museum, author of a definitive chapter on Assyrian revival in Legacy of Mesopotamia (OUP 1991), will put the excavations of ancient Nineveh and Nimrud by the British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard into context and then show what sort of objects were made to celebrate his finds. She will also talk about some Victorian writers and artists who were inspired by the rediscovery of ancient Assyria. If you would like to attend, please inform Rosie Broadley, Museum Assistant, by email.

Courts and capitals 1815—1914
The Society for Court Studies and The Victorian Society are jointly hosting a study day at the Wallace Collection on 1 October 2005 on ‘Courts and Capitals’ in the period from the Congress of Vienna to the First World War. The conference will consider the influence of the European monarchies of the time on the architecture and culture of their capital cities, including Dr Philip Mansel on Paris, Professor Stephen Parissien on London, Dr Alan Sked on Vienna and Professor David Watkin, FSA, on Munich. The themes examined will include palace-building, government buildings, the creation of grand public spaces, streets and public parks, the establishment of new museums and galleries, the creation of commemorative monuments and the use of grand architecture and city-planning as a deliberate means of promoting ideas about high culture and national identity. For a booking form telephone 020 8747 5895 or send an email to

Autumn lectures at the Stained Glass Museum, Ely and London
As ever, the Stained Glass Museum at Ely has lined up a good programme of Wednesday evening lectures for the autumn season, starting on 5 October with Chloe Cockerill, of the Cambridge Churches Historic Churches Trust, talking on ‘The Unicorn in Art and History’. The museum’s annual lecture this year is to be given in London on 2 November 2005 at the Bevis Marks Synagogue, Bevis Marks Street, London, at 6pm by our Fellow, Dr Sharman Kadish, Director of the Jewish Heritage UK, who will look at ‘Symbolism in Jewish Art and Synagogue Glass’. For programme and booking details, email, or see the museum’s website.

Gerald Aylmer Seminar 2005: ‘Historical research and the role of national museum collections’
In the light of the Government’s Green Paper on museums earlier this year, and with major developments affecting the collections in some of our national institutions, what is the future of our national museums’ collections (of objects, archives and books) in sustaining and promoting historical research, and conversely what is the role of historical research in forming, sustaining and interpreting the collections?

This year’s Gerald Aylmer seminar (at the Imperial War Museum, London, on 6 October from 2pm to 4pm) seeks to bring together historians, curators, archivists and librarians to discuss these questions. The seminar is open to all, not just to those directly involved with the national museums, but all member bodies of the National Museum Directors Conference are warmly invited to participate. It is envisaged that the discussion might at points equally embrace the national archival and library collections if those interests are represented in the audience.

Attendance is free of charge but places must be reserved as the numbers are limited by the capacity of the room. If you would like to attend, please book a place by informing Claire Henry at the Imperial War Museum.

Plaster Casts: making, collecting and display
The University of Reading, Department of History of Art, will host a study day on 21 October 2005 on plaster casts, an omnipresent feature of country houses, teaching institutions and national museums. The day will highlight the diverse nature of these objects and will study the history of different types of plaster cast collection, as well as the challenges of display and restoration faced by those looking after them today. Case studies will focus on individual artists as makers of plaster casts, as well as on collections including that of the sixteenth-century Paduan collector Marco Mantova Benavides and those of the Academies of Fine Art in Madrid and Vienna. For further information please contact Dr Eckart Marchand.

Harbours, boats and Tsunami: archaeology in the Severn Estuary 2005
The Severn Estuary and Levels Research Committee (SELRC) will hold its annual conference on 29 October 2005, at The Drill Hall, Chepstow, from 10am to 4pm, open to members and non-members. Presentations will look at the Severn Tsunami of 1607 (as seen on TV), the discovery of one of the oldest wooden structures in the UK at Walpole (Somerset), the rediscovery of a lost Somerset river of Roman and Saxon date, Chepstow waterfront excavations, Ford Farm villa near Newport, the submerged prehistoric forests of the Severn estuary, and more. The guest lecture will be on the Bronze Age Dover Boat. Contact Richard Brunning (tel: 01823 355517) for further details.

Apothecaries, art and architecture: interpreting Georgian medicine
A joint symposium (organised by the Faculty of the History and Philosophy of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London and Dr Johnson’s House with support from the Society for the Social History of Medicine) is being held in honour of the late Professor Roy Porter on 24 and 25 November 2005. Nearly forty speakers from pre-eminent departments in universities, colleges, museums, archives and historical societies from all over the UK and the USA will participate in two full days of presentations at the Apothecaries’ Hall in Blackfriars in the City of London, and there will be a reception at Dr Johnson’s House on the evening of 24 November. Full details of the Symposium are available online via the Society of Apothecaries’ website.

Symposium on John Talman’s collection of drawings: a historia of art from antiquity to Christianity
Supported by the Getty Grant Program, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 16 Bedford Square, London WC1, is organising a symposium to reconstruct the huge collection of drawings assembled by the first Director of the Society of Antiquaries, John Talman, in the decade from 1709 to 1719. The remarkable nature of this dismembered collection resides in its being an extraordinary document of the state of ancient and modern Italian monuments, as well as providing evidence for the growing historiographical concerns that were developed by contemporary English antiquarian and academic circles closely connected with Florence and Rome. Papers in the symposium will address the religious as well as the cultural contexts in which Talman’s collecting took place, and there will also be some consideration of Talman’s responses to Italian sculpture and to baroque architecture. Full details of the symposium, which will take place on 2 December 2005, can be seen on the Paul Mellon Centre’s website.

Call for papers on computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology
The 34th Annual Meeting and Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology will take place in Fargo, North Dakota, USA, on 18 to 21 April 2006. The theme for the 2006 conference is ‘Digital Discovery: exploring new frontiers in human heritage’. Conference papers (long and short), symposia, posters, workshops and roundtable panels are welcome on any topic pertinent to the theme. Topics to be covered at the conference include virtual reality modelling, 3D data capture, manipulation and analysis, field applications, remote sensing, mapping and spatial technologies, databases, digital libraries, archives, portals, data mining, standards and best practices, cultural heritage resource management and maritime archaeology. For full details see the conference website.

Books by Fellows

The The University of Wales Press has just published Roger Turvey’s latest book, on The Treason and Trial of Sir John Perrot, dealing with the downfall of a Sir John Perrot of Carew, Pembrokeshire, who was, amongst other things, Lord Deputy of Ireland, Member of Parliament and Member of the Queen’s Privy Council. It is widely speculated that he was also the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. He strode the political stage in Wales and Ireland like a colossus and was, in the words of Sir Glanmor Williams, ‘a man of Shakespearian proportions’.

Needless to say, Perrot was innocent of the charges brought against him, and in his retelling of the intriguing story of Perrot’s fall from power, Roger reveals the part played by William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who is shown to be ‘a man utterly ruthless, unscrupulous and downright dangerous’. Roger’s book includes a fully edited transcript of Perrot’s trial, which last appeared in print in 1816, providing readers with a first-hand account of a sixteenth-century treason trial as witnessed and recorded by a contemporary.


Hughes Hall Cambridge, Head of House (President)
Closing date 10 October 2005

The Governing Body of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, the university’s oldest graduate college, is seeking to elect a new Head of House (President) during the Michaelmas Term to take office on 1 October 2006. The person appointed will be a scholar or professional of high standing, with a confident and sympathetic personal manner, and a strong affinity with students and the academic aims and aspirations of a Cambridge college. A briefing document is available on the college website.

National Museums of Scotland, Chair
Closing date 21 October 2005

Scottish Ministers are seeking enthusiastic and committed applicants, able to lead, motivate and inspire, who would like to be considered for the appointment of Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland, which has an ambitious programme of expansion and modernisation and is about to embark upon major redevelopments at the Royal Museum and the Museum of Flight. Further details are to be found on the Scottish Executive’s website.

Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, Director
Salary £43,630 to £64,789, closing date 14 October 2005

The Trustees of the Royal Naval Museum are seeking a respected scholar and effective business manager with expertise in the management of museum collections, an understanding of the issues in the field of ship preservation and an enthusiasm for the development of museums as centres for public learning to succeed Dr Campbell McMurray, who retires in June 2006. Further information from the museum’s website.

English Heritage, Head of Education
Salary: £35,000 to £40,000, closing date 7 October 2005

English Heritage is seeking a Head of Education to provide vision and leadership for the Education team and deliver an education strategy that supports organisational objectives and maximises the potential of the organisation’s educational programmes to enable people of all ages to learn from and enjoy the historic environment. The post requires a minimum of five years’ experience in heritage education and/or teaching, with an educational qualification in teaching, further and adult education or youth work. For an electronic application pack, please email quoting R/91/05 in the subject box.

English Heritage, Education Manager, East & West Midlands, based in Birmingham or Northampton
Salary around £27,500, closing date 3 October 2005

English Heritage is also looking for an Education Manager to develop educational programmes for the East and West Midlands, particularly in the field of informal education and lifelong learning. The post requires a degree in history and preferably an educational qualification either in teaching, further and adult education or youth work, a minimum of three years’ experience in heritage education and/or teaching, with experience of working with volunteers an advantage. For an application form, please email quoting reference H/31/05.