Salon Archive

Issue: 170

Saving Kelmscott Manor from the floods

Prompt action by Kelmscott Manor's Property Managers, Jane Milne and Tristan Molloy, has ensured that the Society’s William Morris collection has been saved from flood damage.

After the heavy rain that lasted for nearly 24 hours on Friday 20 July, water levels rose along the banks of the nearby River Thames throughout Saturday and Sunday 21 and 22 July, eventually reaching thigh level in the lowest lying parts of Kelmscott village, before stabilising on Tuesday 24 July and slowly receding over the next seven days.

In the Manor itself, portable items were carried upstairs and larger items of furniture were lifted on to blocks and palettes before the water began to seep through floors and fireplaces, filling the cellars and reaching a depth of 2 inches on the ground floor. Other parts of the Manor site fared worse: at the height of the floods, the South Road Barn, the Restaurant Barn, the Garden Cottage and the nearby Gimson Cottage were all under 10 inches of water (for photographs see the Society’s website.

As well as having to protect the Manor and its collections and watch as their own home was inundated, Jane and Tristan did what they could to help the Society’s tenants in the village, some of whom are now temporarily homeless because of extensive flood damage to their cottages.

Jane and Tristan say they could not have coped without the help of village residents who banded together to help shift furniture in advance of the floods. ‘The support of people from the village was tremendous,’ Jane told Salon, ‘and Kelmscott Manor staff have refused to be intimidated by the floods, turning up for work and getting on with the disaster recovery plan without a word of complaint.’

Once news of the flood was announced in the last issue of Salon, Fellows were quick to ring with offers of help, as did many of Kelmscott Manor’s regular volunteers, and staff from sister organisations, such as the William Morris Society, the Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery and the National Trust. ‘It was important to us to know that everyone was with us in spirit, even if by then the worst was over and the work of cleaning, mopping up and restoring electricity and phone supplies was already under way’, said Jane.

Politicians (including Hilary Benn and David Cameron) arrived in the village on Wednesday, followed by many journalists; as a result, Tristan was to be seen on BBC regional news, setting out in his home-made boat to take food from the Kelmscott Manor restaurant to villagers who had been cut off from the outside world and without electricity for several days. Tristan’s recently finished boat, hand built from a kit, is licensed for use on the nearby River Thames, though Tristan jokes that he should have applied for a road-fund licence, as he has so far spent more time rowing along the lanes of Kelmscott than on the river.

As skips arrived last week to take flood-damaged carpets, furniture and electrical equipment from Kelmscott Manor and the Society’s village properties, it is reassuring to know that no damage has been done to any historic fabric or to the precious tapestries, furniture and paintings in the Manor, but it is also clear that there is a huge amount of work still to do, and that it will be some considerable time before the Manor and the village are back to a state that could be described as ‘business as usual’.

Tristan and Jane have warned that the Manor and grounds are unlikely to re-open until the end of August at the earliest. Anyone intending to visit should check for an update by phoning the Manor’s enquiries and bookings line (01367 252486), emailing ( or by visiting the Manor website. Events planned for Saturday 11 August (the Morris Lenson guitar concert) and Saturday 18 August (the Teddy Bears’ Picnic) have been cancelled.

Obituary: Dillwyn Miles

The following obituary for our late Fellow Dillwyn Miles consists of edited extracts from the original, written by Meic Stephens, which was published in the Independent on 4 August 2007.

‘William James Dillwyn Miles, local government officer and historian: born Newport, Pembrokeshire 25 May 1916; died Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire 1 August 2007. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1946, of the Society of Antiquaries in 1998 and of the Royal Historical Society in 2000.

‘Dillwyn Miles was so closely associated with his county that he was generally known as “Mr Pembrokeshire”. He accepted the sobriquet gladly, for it reflected his immense pride in having given a lifetime's service as local historian, county councillor and Mayor of Newport, the small seaside town a few miles to the east of Fishguard where he had been born in 1916. Apart from war service in Palestine, two years at Palestine House in London and a brief spell in Cardiff, he never lived outside Pembrokeshire and his immense energies were devoted to its social, political and cultural life.

‘He also came to prominence as a member of the Gorsedd of Bards, that august company of neo-druids whose arcane rituals lend colour to the annual ceremonies of the National Eisteddfod (which meets this week in Mold, Flintshire). Miles was appointed Grand Sword Bearer in 1959, and it was his task partly to withdraw the heavy sword from its scabbard and then sheathe it again, in symbolic reference to the fact that “the Bards of the Isle of Britain are men of peace and bear no naked weapon against anyone”.

‘Promoted to the office of Herald Bard in 1966, he brought to it a stately bearing which suggested that he took it as seriously as was possible for a historian who knew that, in fact, the Gorsedd had been invented in the late eighteenth century by a wayward genius known as Iolo Morganwg. For “Dillwyn Cemais”, as he was known in bardic circles, tradition and custom were at the heart of Welsh culture and, as a conservative, he defended them, however spurious their origins, against all detractors.

‘Dillwyn Miles was the son of the proprietor of the Castle Hotel in Newport and Welsh was his first language. Miles spent the duration of the war in the Middle East, mostly with Q branch at British headquarters in Jerusalem, where he was promoted to the rank of captain, and later in Syria and the Lebanon. His account of his time in the Holy Land, published as a chapter in his autobiography, A Mingled Yarn (2000), is notable for the exhilaration he felt at being in a country with whose history and topography he was familiar, having been brought up in the Sunday School.

‘In 1945 Capt Miles was invited by Sir Wyndham Deedes, Chief Secretary of Palestine under the British Mandate, to apply for the post of National Organiser at Palestine House, established for the purpose of creating a better understanding of the British government's commitment, under the Balfour Declaration of 1917, to setting up a national home for the Jewish people, and he was duly appointed. The attraction of the job palled after two years, however, as the establishment of the state of Israel became imminent, and he returned to Wales in 1947.

‘Miles now assumed a career in local government, first with Newport Parish Council and Cemaes Rural District Council, and then with Pembrokeshire County Council and Haverfordwest Borough Council. The titles of some of the concomitant offices he held reflect the rich traditions of the county and, inter alia, provided him with opportunities for dressing up: Admiral of the Port, Chairman of the Shrievalty Association, Burgess Warden of the Gild of Freemen, and so on. He served four terms as Mayor of Newport, in which office he revived some of the town's ancient ceremonies such as the Perambulation of the Boundaries.

‘From 1954 to 1975 Miles was General Secretary of the Pembrokeshire Rural Community Council, in which capacity he had a finger in every pie; after Pembrokeshire was incorporated into the new county of Dyfed in 1974, the post’s title was changed to Director of Dyfed Rural Council, and he remained in it until his retirement in 1981. Among his many initiatives were the Best Kept Village Competition, Old People's Week, the County Drama Festival and the Pembrokeshire Art, Film and Local History Societies.

‘His special interest was in nature conservation. He was Vice-President of the Wales Wildlife Trust, Vice-Chairman of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Honorary Secretary of the West Wales Field Society, a member of the Nature Conservancy Council for Wales, and, from 1971 to 1980, editor of the magazine Nature in Wales; in all this work he was closely associated with R M Lockley, the naturalist, until the latter's death in 2000.

‘Most of Dillwyn Miles's publications have to do with the natural or social history of his native county. From 1955 to 1981 he edited The Pembrokeshire Historian. His books include The Sheriffs of the County of Pembroke 1541–1974 (1976), The Castles of Pembrokeshire (1979), Portrait of Pembrokeshire(1984), The Lords of Cemais (1997) and A History of the Town and County of Haverfordwest (1999). His edition of George Owen's The Description of Penbrokshire, first published in 1603, is a scholarly work valuable for its preface and footnotes, as is The Letters of Lt John George (1799–1808) of the Royal Marines (2002).

‘He also published two books about the Eisteddfod and the Gorsedd: The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales (1982) and The Secret of the Bards of the Isle of Britain (1992). His only book in Welsh was Atgofion Hen Arwyddfardd (‘Reminiscences of an Old Herald Bard’, 1997).

Obituary: Gale Sieveking

Catherine Johns writes to say that she has just learned that our Fellow Gale Sieveking died about six weeks ago, after a long illness, and that she wishes to place on record the fact that Gale was ‘one of those people of whom one can truly say, “we shall not see his like again”. With the curiously innocent arrogance of men of his generation and class, he was a colleague who was often charming, sometimes exasperating, and always entertaining. When I was a young and relatively inexperienced curator in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I found him very kind, and I am grateful to have known him.’

Catherine continues: ‘I should love to see some of the smug, second-rate modern management types try to pigeonhole and “manage” someone like Gale – they would retire, baffled, to search in vain for answers amongst their forms and flip-charts. We should treasure our eccentrics: there aren’t many of them left. The only facts and figures I can give you are that Gale was born in 1925, came to the British Museum in 1956, and retired (as Deputy Keeper of the then Department of Prehistoric and Romano-British Antiquities) in 1985.’

Tantalisingly, Catherine ends by saying that: ‘In the 1950s, he, Peter Lasko and David Wilson were great friends as young Assistant Keepers in the British and Medieval Department; many a mildly scurrilous tale about these enfants terribles still survives in the folk-memory of the museum.’

Salon’s editor is not aware of any other obituary for Gale Sieveking, but would be very pleased to hear from any Fellow who knows of one, or who is willing to supply further reminiscences.

New on the website: the archive is back

In response to popular demand, the archive section of the Society’s website has been put back on line – yes, it was a surprise when Fellows asked for this, but apparently the archive section, with its obituaries and accounts of past meetings, is valued as a research and reference tool – so it can now be accessed once again in the Fellows’ area.

Also in the password-protected Fellows area are the minutes of the March Council meeting, which was the last meeting to be held prior to the recent Council and Presidential elections, while the latest version of the Society’s business plan, which was approved by Council at its July meeting, is available on the public side.

The online shop has been launched, so buying one of the Society’s silk ties or a limited edition Tercentenary medal is as easy as quoting your credit card number and waiting for the post to arrive. Stationery and greetings cards will soon be added to the product range.

Open House London Weekend

Along with the other Burlington House Learned Societies, the Society of Antiquaries will be opening its doors to the public as part of the Open House London ‘Architecture in the Flesh’ festival on Saturday and Sunday 15 and 16 September 2007. This will be an important occasion for the Society, as 15 September is the opening day of our ‘Making History’ exhibition at the Royal Academy; it will also mark the reopening of our restored ground-floor rooms.

Fellows will be invited to see the restored interiors on 13 December 2007, when the pre-Christmas Miscellany of Papers and Mulled Wine Reception will provide an opportunity for celebrating the completion of the refurbishment work. Until that date, many of the paintings that are an integral part of the decorative scheme will be on display at the Royal Academy exhibition, but they will all be back on the walls in time for the last meeting of the year.

Burlington House Lectures

On Monday 29 October 2007, Robert Bittlestone, Professor James Diggle of the University of Cambridge and Professor John Underhill, of the University of Edinburgh – collectively the authors of Odysseus Unbound – will present the results of their research into the location of Homer’s Ithaca, using geological, historical, archaeological and literary evidence and satellite technology.

Tea will be served from 5.30pm and the talk will begin at 6pm in the Geology Society’s Lecture Theatre. Refreshments will be provided in the Lower Library after the lecture, which is the latest in the Burlington House Lecture series, bridging the interests of the Learned Societies located around the Burlington House courtyard.

Further details are on the Geology Society’s website, and tickets are available from Jayne Phenton.

Buildings at Risk 2007 report from English Heritage

In terms of simple numbers, the trend is positive, with 88 buildings being removed from the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register this year, and 52 being added. But, said our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, launching this year’s report, ‘increasingly we are left with the hard rump of buildings which need large amounts of public subsidy’.

Many of the buildings defined as ‘hard rump’ would cost far more to repair than they would be worth once repaired. In some cases they cannot be put to beneficial use – the pit-head winding gear at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, for example – and in other cases they are located in remote places that are not attractive to commercial developers.

The best hope for such structures, Simon Thurley said, was for them to be cared for by a charitable trust, like the group of volunteers that has taken on the challenge of repairing Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s magnificent Crossness Pumping Station in Bexley, Greater London – but when such buildings need in excess of £1 million in repairs, there is a limit even to what volunteers can do to combat advancing decay.

The buildings on the register are all of outstanding national importance, said Simon Thurley, and there is thus a strong case for public subsidy, but ‘Government funding for English Heritage has reduced and therefore the purchasing power of our grants has shrunk by £19.6 million over the past six years’, leaving English Heritage without the capacity to perform its role as ‘the safety net when all else fails … the social services of the heritage world’.

Last year English Heritage offered £4.4 million to buildings at risk but this covered only 1.3 per cent of the estimated £400 million repair cost of all the buildings on the Register – and that figure goes on rising as building costs increase by some 4.4 per cent a year.

Sixteen sites have been singled out of this year’s BAR report as having the biggest conservation deficit; they include the 1729 Hawksmoor-designed mausoleum at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, eighteenth-century Ditherington Flax Mill, Shrewsbury, the world’s first iron-framed building, and Astley Castle, the thirteenth-century moated manor house in Warwickshire.

Further details from the English Heritage website.

VAT, theatres and cinemas

In the wake of last week’s Buildings at Risk announcement, several organisations issued follow-up press comments. The Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation wanted everyone to be reminded that VAT was a major factor in the cost of repairing historic buildings and that its widely supported campaign for the abolition of this unfair tax (which is not levied on new building work) continues.

The Theatres Trust wanted to highlight the plight of historic theatres, and to say that there are 66 theatre buildings at risk on their register, including the Grade II* starred Mechanics Institute in Swindon, which is subject to a demolition application from owners who want to redevelop the site, even though it is the centrepiece of the town’s railway village, a focal building in the Swindon’s Conservation Area, and an integral part of the Great Western Railway’s history, and hence potentially part of a future World Heritage Site. The Theatres Trust is vigorously opposing the demolition but says: ‘Despite the absence of any justification for demolition, Impact Assessment, Conservation Plan or Feasibility Study the building’s continued existence cannot be taken for granted’. Further details are on the Theatres Trust website.

A sister organisation to the Theatres Trust, the Cinema Theatre Association, also used the publication of the 2007 BAR register to speak out for cinemas, saying that picture palaces were a cornerstone of everyday life, entertainment and social interchange in the first half of the twentieth century, but that they are now a vanishing building type. Waxing lyrical about the hidden world of luxury behind the often modest facades, the CTA says ‘exciting worlds of fantasy and escapism were offered on the insides with the exotic and highly stylised interior decorative schemes transporting the customers into a different world. Since then these once ubiquitous fixtures have started to disappear from our towns and cities and virtually intact examples are becoming increasingly rare.’

The Cinema Theatre Association’s own Buildings at Risk register can be found on its website.

Two huge projects from the HLF

Faced with a much diminished budget as a result of the 2012 Olympics, Heritage Lottery Fund trustees might have chosen to avoid large projects in favour of spreading the impact of what remains; instead, they have just announced two of their biggest ever grants: a £10 million contribution to the cost of restoring the eastern end of York Minster, and an £8.9 million grant to enable the partners in the Great Fen Project to buy 1,452 hectares (3,588 acres) of arable land between Peterborough and Huntingdon and turn it back to wetland.

York Minster’s Lottery money will help with urgently needed repairs to the east end, begun in the late fourteenth century, which is currently in an unstable condition with a noticeable tilt towards the east. Apprentices will be trained in stonework and stained-glass conservation techniques as part of the scheme, which includes restoration of the glass and tracery of the Great East Window.

The Fenland grant is the largest ever awarded by the HLF to a habitat restoration scheme, and it builds on evidence that small nature reserves are by no means as effective in nurturing biodiversity as large tracts of landscape. The £8.9 million will enable the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough to link and extend a number of small existing reserves to create a variety of habitats, including fen meadows, reed beds and riverine woodland, where its is hoped that such rare species as fen violets, chaser dragonflies, nightingales, marsh harriers, bitterns, common cranes and spoonbills will thrive.

HLF publishes draft version of its third strategic plan

In order to ensure that large-scale projects do not miss out in a period of growing demand and diminishing funds, the HLF has published an indicative budget, showing how much money it intends to allocate to general and targeted funding programmes from now until 2013. The figures form part of the draft of the third strategic plan – what the introduction to the document calls ‘an update on our overall direction’. This admirably short, punchy and business-like report promises to make decision making more transparent, to simplify the application process and to introduce new initiatives to help applicants prior to the submission of an application, and to support grantees in achieving good-quality projects.

We thus learn from the report that £20 million a year – some 10 per cent of the annual budget is to be ring-fenced – for large projects (grants over £5 million), with £112 million being set aside for grants of between £1 and £5 million, and £25 million being allocated to grants under £50,000. Funding for targeted programmes includes £20 million a year for the next five years for repairs to places of worship, and a similar amount for public parks, along with £10 million a year for Townscape Heritage Initiatives, which are used to help communities regenerate the historic areas of their towns and cities.

The consultation document sets out very clearly what the expected outcomes are from HLF funding: given equal weight with what might be considered ‘pure’ conservation objectives – the physical conservation of heritage fabric – is the desire to spread knowledge, understanding and concern for the heritage through participation: the HLF wants not just a passive audience for heritage but an active one, with more people being enabled through HLF funding to identify, share and care for the heritage.

Copies of the document – Our Heritage, Our Future: towards the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Third Strategic Plan – are available from the HLF website.

National Trust also publishes its strategic plan

Also publishing a new strategic plan this week was the National Trust, and like the HLF, the National Trust has ambitions to involve more people with conservation work by developing stronger links between its properties and the local community. Even the strategy’s title – Our Future – Join In – emphasises active engagement and the refreshingly honest plan document admits that, in the past, the Trust has ‘acted a little like a theatrical impresario – putting on a “show” for the public’. Promising in future to ‘involve our visitors more closely with our conservation work’, the plan sets out an agenda for the next few years designed to turn ‘visitors’ into ‘supporters’, who will be encouraged to ‘explore the property and its stories, to see and understand the significance of what is there and the conservation work that goes on, to get involved, and to connect what they see at our properties with what is going on in the wider world’.

For this approach to be successful, the plan says, ‘our supporters need to be inspired by what they see. Excellent conservation and access delivered to a high standard is a pre-requisite for the new strategy to work. For the first time we will be able to track conservation performance at every property and be able to say what needs to be done to meet our conservation objectives. We’ll be investing a great deal of money and time in conservation – and we will promote the research, scholarship, skills and expertise we rely on.’

Copies of the strategy document can be downloaded from the National Trust’s website. The document ends with a challenge, asking supporters to email the National Trust with comments on the strategy and ideas for ‘working together’.

ERIH journal rankings: David Breeze responds

Our Fellow David Breeze read Salon’s recent report on the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) – a ranking of archaeology and history journals drawn up by the European Science Foundation – with growing puzzlement. Rather than ignore the index and hope that it will go away, David believes that Fellows should use the online feedback procedure to respond with their views. David has conducted his own ‘peer review’ of the journal rankings by canvassing colleagues for their reactions; here are his preliminary conclusions.

‘The production by the European Science Foundation of a ranked list of journals will no doubt raise many hackles. However, there is a facility for feedback and I would encourage Fellows to use it. Here are my first thoughts on apparent inconsistencies.

‘Some journals of foreign schools are in category A (Annual of the British School in Athens; Levant; the seven Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Institutes) while Papers of the British School at Rome is in B and Pharos, Nederlands Instituut Athene is in C. There is no Dutch-language journal listed and only two Russian journals.

‘Some journals which cover a single country are in C (the Journal of Irish Archaeology, the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland); others in B (Archaeologia Bulgarica, Archéologie Suisse, Acta Archaelogica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae). How are countries defined? Archaeologia Cambrensis and Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland are in C.

‘Why are Medieval Archaeology and Post-Medieval Archaeology in A, but Britannia in B? Why is the Archaeological Journal not included at all?

‘What’s in a title? It is interesting to see the Flanders Archaeological Bulletin in the list. Or a place: the Cambridge Archaeological Journal and the Oxford Journal of Archaeology are in A, the Bonner Jahrbücher in B, though the Carnuntum Jahrbuch, which also contains “international” material, is C.

‘Is it being too cynical to ask if Public Archaeology had entitled itself The International Journal of Public Archaeology it would have been raised from a B to an A?

‘I note that Archaeologia Aeliana, founded in 1822, is included (though only as a C), but not its fellow journal on the west side of the country, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society (first published in 1874 and also a refereed journal), though the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal and some other county journals are. Needless to say, coverage of British county journals is patchy. AA and TCWAAS, incidentally, are the two primary journals for the publication of material on Hadrian’s Wall, a World Heritage Site: should that count in their favour?

‘No one can doubt the magnitude of the task, nor can we all put on one side our prejudices (I acknowledge choosing some journals for specific mention above because I have published in them). But it would be helpful to have more information on the process and assurance that the views of those outside the process will be taken into account.’

Science reveals lost coronation place of Scottish kings

Our Fellow Peter Yeoman, who is a specialist in the archaeology of the medieval church in Scotland, reports that a team of archaeologists from the University of Glasgow have obtained spectacular results from the first ever geophysical survey to be undertaken in the grounds of Scone Palace, including the extraordinarily clear outline of parts of the lost medieval abbey church of Scone.

Project leader Oliver O’ Grady, of Glasgow University’s Department of Archaeology, confirms that: ‘We have been really surprised by the high quality of the survey results so far, revealing a very clear outline of the great west end of the abbey church, complete with at least one bell tower. The tremendous importance of Scone – where kings were made and where Parliaments met – is only matched by how little we know about the reality of the place. Now we can locate the essential outline of the church and hints of where the cloister and other buildings stood.’

The project to find out more about the abbey and about the famous Moot Hill, where Robert Bruce was crowned King of Scots in 1306, carried out its survey work during July, with support for the Glasgow University team provided by volunteers from the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, who were trained in archaeological remote sensing. The project is supported by the Hunter Archaeological Trust, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Russell Trust, Glasgow University Department of Archaeology, the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, and by the Mansfield Estate.

Scone in ancient times was an important centre of royal and ecclesiastical power. Even before the time of the Scots, Pictish kings had been inaugurated on the nearby Moot Hill. By 1120 a royal abbey was built as befitted this great ceremonial centre of the kingdom, which served to house the Stone of Destiny.

Elspeth Bruce, Visitor Services Manager at Scone Palace, said: ‘Some major gaps are being filled in our understanding of Scone’s amazing history, and we are now talking to the archaeologists about how the project might develop.’

Boydell & Brewer publish The Entring Book of Roger Morrice (1677–91)

Amounting to some 900,000 words, some of them written in code, the diary, or Entring Book, of the Puritan cleric and political journalist, Roger Morrice, has just been published in its entirety by Boydell & Brewer, in a six-volume set consisting of four volumes of diary, a companion volume on the background to the diary and a biographical dictionary with comprehensive index.

Hailed as ‘the most important unpublished British diary of the later seventeenth century’, the Entring Book is part personal diary and part chronicle of the business, military, political and religious affairs of the day, and as such is a mine of source material on aspects of public and domestic life in late Stuart England, covering the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William III and Mary II.

Scholars have long known of the book’s existence, in the archives of the Dr Williams's Library, in Gordon Square, London, but only in 2000 was a grant obtained from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to publish the work, which in turn meant breaking Morrice’s shorthand code and translating that half of the diary that had previously remained unreadable.

Morrice chose to write in code because he could have been imprisoned or worse for his non-conformist views. Most of the early part of the Entring Book is concerned with the possible impact of resurgent Catholicism on religious and intellectual freedom. Mark Goldie, of Cambridge University, is one of ten academics on the Morrice Project board (whose members include our Fellow Dr Clyve Jones, of the UCL Institute of Historical Research). Goldie says that the author is highly critical of the monarch of the day, Charles II: ‘It shows England in a very different mood to the Pepys diary, which was celebrating getting rid of the Puritans … he depicts a darker England thrown into a great crisis of “popery and arbitrary power”.’

Born in 1628, Morrice studied at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and became the vicar of Duffield in Derbyshire in 1658, but was ejected from his living at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 because of his non-conformist views. Morrice moved to London where he became private chaplain to Denzil Holles and John Maynard, both veteran Parliamentarians, associating himself with those opposed to the absolutist government of the later Stuart monarchs.

Based partly on coffee house gossip and partly on news from the heart of the royal court leaked to him by Richard Collings, the highly placed Secretary to the Privy Council, the entries in Morrice’s diary recorded high politics at a critical time in English history. According to the Morrice Project board: ‘Morrice was passionately committed to the defeat of absolutism in government and intolerance in the church. The Entring Book sets out to record the odyssey of a godly people – and of a class of parliamentary magnates – in the face of “popery and arbitrary power”. Through it we can trace the transformation of Puritanism into Whiggery and Dissent.’

Snails in a Pottage: the source of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dish?

At exactly the same time as Morrice was writing his diaries, Robert May was serving up French-influenced dishes to England’s Catholic aristocracy; having trained as a chef in Paris he was a key figure in the introduction to England of dishes influenced by the high cooking of the French court – recipes that he compiled into a cookery book published in 1660, under the title, The Accomplisht Cook.

Our Fellow Evelyn Baker was browsing through a facsimile of Robert May's book recently, looking for menu ideas for the Society’s Gala Dinner on 5 December, when we are promised a menu based on dishes that would have been enjoyed by our founders. Evelyn tells Salon that she came across a recipe ‘To Dress Snails in a Pottage’ that caused her to wonder whether this was the inspiration for Heston Blumenthal's (in)famous Snail Porridge, served at The Fat Duck in Bray near Maidenhead. ‘This was the dish, says Evelyn, ‘that assisted him in achieving his third Michelin star in 2004, and in 2006 he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Reading for “his dedicated research and commitment to the exploration of culinary science”.’

Evelyn admits that a trip to the restaurant to check the ingredients in person is beyond her means, but she wonders if any more fortunate Fellow has tried the dish and can confirm whether, at The Fat Duck, the gastropods are boiled, then fried in oil with onions, stewed for three to four hours in a pipkin with ‘as much water as will make a pottage’, then added to a ‘green sauce’ made from thyme, parsley, saffron, garlic and cloves, and thickened with bread soaked in broth – the whole then being warmed, seasoned with lemon, vinegar and garlic and served ‘in a dish, with sippets [ie the bread soaked in broth] in the bottom of it’. Robert May goes on to say that ‘this pottage is very nourishing, and excellent good against a Consumption.’

In case any Fellow with respiratory problems is looking forward to testing its efficacy, Evelyn hastens to add that this is not one of the dishes that will appear on the 5 December menu.

An Islington memorial to a former Secretary

Evelyn Baker is not the only researcher whose archival burrowing has thrown up unexpected gems. Professor Marvin Spevack, of the University of Münster, is researching the library and works of Isaac d’Israeli (1766–1848), the Enfield-born writer and scholar (and father of prime minister Benjamin Disraeli) who was elected a Fellow of our Society in 1821.

Professor Spevack writes: ‘As if an already extravagant attack on the character and work were not enough, Isaac D’Israeli concluded his [ironically entitled] Epistle, Familiar and Panegyric, to Richard Gough, Esq (1794) with a footnote in which he relates an anecdote that “admirably displays Mr Gough’s character” and his “eternal rancour [that] pursues beyond the confines of the grave”.

The footnote says: ‘The late Mr [William] Norris, Secretary of the Antiquarian Society, was an ingenious and honest man; and consequently felt and expressed the most ineffable contempt for my hero. He did not fail to expose the ears of my Midas at the Council table! Poor Norris, like many ingenious men, died without leaving any thing for the undertaker. It was then voted that the Society, at their expence, should place a stone over the remains of a deceased and faithful servant. Our Director [Richard Gough] received the order with repugnance.’

In seeking to pin down the truth of this anecdote, Professor Spevack says that: ‘On 14 February 1792, the Council did indeed order “that the sum not exceeding ten guineas be allowed for the purpose of erecting a mural tablet in the burial ground of Pentonville Chapel, Islington, to the memory of our late worthy Secretary … and that Richard Gough Esq be requested to draw up an Inscription for the same’. Since Gough was present at the meeting, it is reasonable to assume that he did not object or indicate his repugnance at the idea.

‘D’Israeli’s further accusation, that “to this day, he has neglected this little and last duty, of learning and humanity”, cannot, like many an anecdote, be verified. The chapel was destroyed in 1984, and, of the gravestones along the wall of what is now Joseph Grimaldi Park, none of those which have not been defaced bears the name of William Norris.’

Swan Hellenic back in business

Efforts by Lord Sterling, the former Chairman of P&O, to revive Swan Hellenic have proved successful, and the company has just launched its new programme of cruises, which will begin in May 2008, based on the Minerva, which will become Swan Hellenic’s main ship once again under an arrangement agreed with Minerva’s new owners, All Leisure Holidays.

Lord Sterling promises that not only will the ship be familiar to past Swan Hellenic passengers, but also many of the management team, the crew members and the guest lecturers. Minerva is currently being refurbished and will set sail on its inaugural cruise under the revived Swan Hellenic flag on 23 May, departing from Dover for an eight-night cruise to Norway, with berths costing from £1,290 per person. Full details are on the Swan Hellenic website.

News of Fellows

Salon 169 mentioned the publication of Gordon R Willey and American Archaeology, a book which gauges the contribution and impact of the late Professor Willey, and said that Gordon Willey had been a Fellow. Norman Hammond writes to say that, for the record, Professor Willey was more than just a Fellow – he was, of course, the Society’s first (and so far only?) Honorary Vice-President, in which capacity he presided over meetings of the American Fellowship for many years; he was awarded the Society’s Gold Medal in 2000.

Norman adds that our Fellow Ian Graham has been honoured by the government of Guatemala, ‘a country in which he has long worked but which had, for decades, been diplomatically at odds with the United Kingdom over the Belize question. Guatemala conferred on Ian the Order of the Quetzal, its highest honour, on 9 July 2007’.

Our Fellow John Farrant spotted an omission from Salon’s list of FSAs in the 2007 list of scholars honoured by election to the Fellowship of the British Academy: Michael Hunter, Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, elected to our Fellowship in 1976, is also among the 2007 British Academy intake, honoured for his contributions to the Intellectual history of late seventeenth-century Britain, especially the genesis of the Royal Society and the ‘decline of magic’.

Fellows Clive Gamble, Nick Barton, Mark Pollard and Rupert Housley are among the members of a consortium led by Royal Holloway that has just won a £3 million grant to develop new approaches to assessing how humans may have responded to abrupt climate change during the recent past.

The five-year project, named RESET (Response of Humans to Abrupt Environmental Transitions), is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and brings together scientists with expertise in human palaeontology, archaeology, oceanography, volcanic geology and past climate change based at Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Oxford, the Natural History Museum, London, and Southampton University’s National Oceanography Centre.

The press release announcing the award says that ice-core records from Greenland show that pronounced climatic shifts with severe environmental consequences are possible within as little as twenty years or less. This means that some of our ancestors experienced climatic variability perhaps as rapid as those associated with global warming today.

Understanding how humans responded to such abrupt events depends on being able to synchronise archaeological and geological records with precision – something that the RESET project will seek to do by studying tephra – the layers of ash that result from volcanic eruptions and are distributed over great distances by the jet stream.

A long history of explosions from Italian, Icelandic and other volcanic centres has led to a complex series of tephra layers being laid down on the sea floor, in lakes, on peat-bogs, in archaeological sites, such as shallow caves, and even on to the Greenland ice cap, where they represent time-parallel signatures in archaeological and geological records. RESET will use laser-based technology to analyse key tephras, producing a lattice that will tie together the various records, and bring greater clarity to the sequence of climatic and human events in Europe and North Africa during the last 80,000 years.

Professor Chris Stringer, the Natural History Museum’s specialist in human evolution and a member of the RESET team, said: ‘Establishing the precise order of events is the key to resolving some of the long-standing debates about climate history and its impacts on the human dimension, and long-standing research questions such as the fate of the Neanderthals.’

Further information can be found on the website of the University of Oxford’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.

Finally, if you like your archaeology tinged with wry humour, take a look at the IFA website, where several transcripts of papers given at the IFA’s conference in Reading in April have now been posted up for everyone to read. The conference began with a session dedicated to the currently fashionable pseudo-science of ‘future scoping’, which IFA Director, Pete Hinton, managed to send up brilliantly, whilst also making some telling points.

Claiming to have travelled forwards in time courtesy of one of the many wormholes to be found in Reading, he returns from 2022 to the present day suffering from ‘a form of pre-traumatic stress disorder’. He reports to the conference that fifteen years archaeologists will be reading Current Archaeology – no, not our old familiar friend, but an entirely new magazine devoted to the archaeology of all the nuclear power stations and wind farms that have been made redundant by climate change.

He further reports that Government ministries have been reorganised to create a new Department of Identity, Leisure and Order [surely Domestic Order; ed] universally known as the Committee of Public Safety. As well as being given responsible for promoting citizenship, health and efficiency and political re-education, the Department is in charge of heritage and conservation, guided by its latest policy document: Past Caring.

There is much more in a similar vein, along with a very sensible checklist of measures that we might take to avoid this nightmare scenario.

Our Fellow Charles Saumarez Smith has been in the news quite a bit recently as a result of his move from the National Gallery to the Society’s neighbour at the north end of the Burlington House courtyard, the Royal Academy. Many reports have said that Charles handed in his notice because of tensions in the relationship with Peter Scott, the Chairman of the National Gallery’s board of trustees, who will now begin the search for a successor (again, press reports seem agreed that Gabriele Finaldi, the deputy director of the Prado, is the hot favourite for a post that demands (according to one insider) ‘an expert in Old Master paintings who is also a brilliant manager and politician’).

The Sunday Times’s arts diarist Richard Brooks tells a story that demonstrates that the new Royal Academy Chief Executive has a well-honed sense of his place in the RA’s pecking order. Brooks writes: ‘The newly knighted Norman Rosenthal, the longtime exhibitions secretary (ie, top curator) of the Royal Academy, tells me he is looking forward to working with his new boss, Charles Saumarez Smith, who has just left the National Gallery to become the RA’s chief exec. “Right sort of chap,” says Sir Norm. “Not like that dreadful woman who tried to run this place before – so awful that I won’t even say her name.” It was, by the way, Lawton Fitt. And Saumarez Smith’s reaction? “I will, of course, bow to Sir Norman every morning”.’


Our Fellow Alan Millard, Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages at the University of Liverpool, was pleased to see the report in Salon concerning the official named in the Biblical Book of Jeremiah and on a cuneiform tablet at the British Museum. ‘Assyriology rarely makes its way into the Society's orbit!’, Alan writes, adding that: ‘This is a notable discovery, although the equation of the Hebrew and Babylonian forms of the name [of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, Nebuchadnezzar’s chief eunuch] is not so exact for this name as it is for the two other names in the same list.

‘Jeremiah 39, verse 3, names Nergal-sharezer, the Simmagir officer, Nebo-sarsekim, the chief eunuch, and Nergal-sharezer, an official, while verses 9 onwards name Nebu-zaradan, as commander of the guard, and another chief officer, Nebu-shazban.

‘Both Nergal-sharezer and Nebu-shazban are good Babylonian names current in the sixth century BC, and we already have confirmation of their names and titles from a Babylonian register of Nebuchadnezzar's officials, found in Babylon and published in 1931. In that text they hold the same positions [‘the Simmagir officer’ and ‘commander of the guard’] as in Jeremiah 39. To these two names we can now add Nabu-sharussu-ukin, the chief eunuch. The latter name is the one that Michael Jursa has equated with Nebo-sarsekim, an equation which is quite acceptable, involving the slight change of ‘n’ to ‘m’ in the Hebrew.

‘In this light my colleague Irving Finkel's comment is a little over-enthusiastic [‘This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find’], but the discovery is valuable, and simply adds to the other evidence for the historical reliability of this narrative in the book of Jeremiah.’

Our Fellow Professor Gabriel Cooney, of the University College Dublin School of Archaeology, writes to welcome the decision by the new Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to carry out a review of archaeological policy in the Republic of Ireland. However, ‘I thought you would want to know that the second paragraph on destruction of sites on the route is factually incorrect’, he says, adding that: ‘All the archaeological sites and features on the route of the motorway have been archaeologically excavated to a high professional standard by archaeological consultants who report to archaeologists employed by the National Roads Authority. What is referred to in the paragraph is construction work on the route long after the completion of the excavation.’

The ‘Books by Fellows’ section in Salon 163 noted that Fellow James Bettley was the author of the new Essex volume in the Buildings of England series, which prompted Fellow Michael Siddons to speak up for another Fellow, Thomas Lloyd, who is the chief author of the most recent volume in The Buildings of Wales series, devoted to Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

Apologies to everyone concerned for scrambling some of the detail of who is speaking on what at the forthcoming British Records Association conference on 4 December 2007. David Robinson is not in fact giving a paper, though, as chairman of the BRA, he is introducing the conference. Charles Hind speaks on ‘The Need for Authentic Records’, and Eleanor Gawne on ‘Breaking the Records’. For further information, contact the British Records Association, tel: 020 7833 0428; email:

Fellows continue to comment on the designation of Sydney Opera House as a World Heritage Site. From Susan Denyer, of ICOMOS-UK, comes the comment that it is not quite true to say, as Fellow Robert Merrillees did in last week’s Salon, that Jørn Utzon, the architect, ‘never recovered from the humiliations to which he was subjected Down Under even though he was aware that his unique and magnificent structure had become iconic not only for Sydney but for the whole of Australia’. Susan says that: ‘In 1998, when the Sydney architect Richard Johnson began to develop planning principles for the future of the site, he invited Jørn Utzon back to work again on the building. With his son, Utzon has now developed design principles and is involved in the refurbishment of the reception hall, the construction of a western loggia and modifications to the Opera Theatre – all interventions to improve the performance of the building.’

In similar vein, Vincent Megaw says that ‘Robert Merrillees is quite correct in saying that the Government's treatment of Utzon, the original designer of the Sydney Opera House, was nothing short of scandalous, but others should share the credit for the design, not least Utzon’s fellow countryman, Ove Arup, and his structural engineers colleagues, who made Utzon’s brilliant but untried design a reality. Again, to call the office of the NSW Government Architect an architectural hack is a bit hard; caught between a political rock and a design hard place, the Government Architect made the best of an impossible job made even harder when the opera and concert spaces had the roles reversed following some very heavy lobbying by the ABC who then controlled Australian's main orchestras. (I well remember, commuting to Sydney University, I passed the railway sidings every day which contained the Austrian-made stage machinery, now redundant as a result of this decision.)

‘Very belatedly, with the Opera House undergoing some much needed and fairly major alterations to the original design, Utzon was invited to give his opinion on the designs and indeed to come out to Sydney; alas ill health (but, it seems, no longer ill will) prevented his making the journey. A last detail – has there ever been in recent times a major building where, as with the Opera House, cost was no object? The whole original project was in effect funded by those participating in the Sydney Opera House Lottery. One could call it the most culturally correct game of two-up in the history of Australia!’

On the recent finding of a Viking hoard near Harrogate, Frances Lynch writes to say that Salon and other commentators have all ‘compared this hoard, with its combination of western and eastern coins, with the Cuerdale hoard – but no one ever mentions the Bangor hoard in the same context, which also contains Dublin and Samarkand coins. The hoard came appropriately from under one of the banks in the High Street! Perhaps this wide range of coins was in everybody’s pocket at the time’.

All the news of Tercentenary events in the last issue of Salon prompted Catherine Johns to write and say that ‘Fortnum & Mason across the road is celebrating its tercentenary as well; it seems a pity that the grocers and the antiquaries couldn't have joined forces for one 1707/2007 event’ – which provides the perfect opportunity to reply by highlighting what might well prove to be one of the Tercentenary’s most popular events, a wine-themed evening sponsored by Fortnum & Mason that will take place on 28 February 2008; more on this nearer to the date of the event.

British Academy announces new Research Development Awards

The British Academy has announced a new scheme to enable mid-career scholars to develop a significant research project. The British Academy Research Development Awards (BARDA) scheme replaces the previous programmes for Research Leave Fellowships and Larger Research Grants. Applications are particularly encouraged from scholars who can demonstrate that they are developing an innovative line of research, with the potential to make a significant difference to their field and to their career profile. Awards are tenable for up to three years, at up to £150,000 FEC. The deadline for applications is 15 October 2007 for awards to be taken up after April 2008. Awards will be announced at the end of March 2008. Details and application forms are available from the British Academy website.

West Country Households 1500–1700: 14 to 17 September 2007

The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology (SPMA) has just published the draft programme for its 2007 conference, to be held in Exeter and Taunton (see the SPMA website for further information and the latest updates).

The conference will bring together researchers studying the early modern house from many different perspectives – including furniture history, inventories, food history, household accounts and internal decoration – to see whether common ground emerges from their different approaches. Delegates will hear about and visit see some of the region’s remarkable wealth of vernacular buildings and examine material from some of the most productive excavations of early modern household goods to have taken place in Britain over the last thirty years.

Material culture from village to abbey: finds from Wharram Percy and Whitby Abbey

The Finds Research Group AD 700 to 1700 is planning a weekend’s outing to Whitby Abbey and Malton Museum on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October 2007. Saturday morning will consist of a tour of the English Heritage excavations on the Abbey Headland guided by our Fellow Tony Wilmott, Senior Archaeologist, English Heritage, and a review of recent finds from past and current excavations with our Fellow Sarah Jennings, Site Director. In the afternoon, our Fellows Stuart Wrathmell, Director, Wharram Post-excavation Project, and Ian Riddler, Finds Specialist, will give papers on different aspects of the finds from Wharram Percy, as will Martin Allfrey, Head Curator, English Heritage. On Sunday, delegates will visit the Wharram Percy Exhibition at the Malton Museum with our Fellow Ann Clark, the exhibition’s curator.

Our Fellow Quita Mould can supply booking forms and full details.


Chief Executive and Trustees of the Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust
As Salon readers will know, Dumfries House, one of the UK’s most architecturally significant houses, has been purchased by a consortium led by the Prince’s Charities Foundation, and is to be opened to the public in summer 2008, as a centre for education, and the appreciation of architecture, art and the countryside. A new charity – the Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust – is being set up with the Prince of Wales, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, as its President.

The Trust is now seeking to recruit a chief executive with responsibility for implementing the business and marketing plans for the house and grounds, and trustees with backgrounds in the conservation of pictures and furniture, landscape conservation and presentation, architecture, fundraising, financial and legal affairs, the broader heritage sector and property development.

The trustee posts are unremunerated, though expenses incurred on Trust business will be reimbursed. An attractive package of salary, accommodation and benefits will be offered to the Chief Executive.

Briefing documents for both roles can be found on the Odgers executive search website: for the Chief Executive and for Trustees.