Salon Archive

Issue: 235

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2010

Congratulations from all the Fellowship to the following Fellows whose names are in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours List:

• Knight Bachelor: Donald William Insall CBE, for services to conservation architecture
• KCVO: Samuel Charles Whitbread, for services as Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire
• OBE: Professor Timothy Darvill, for services to archaeology; Dr Ian Dennis Jenkins, Senior Curator, Greek Collections, British Museum, for services to museums
• MBE: Victor William Gray, for services to archivists; Jonathan Kenneth Horne, for services to medieval ceramics.

More birthdays

We wish many happy returns to our Fellow Beatrice de Cardi, who celebrated her ninety-sixth birthday on 5 June 2010, and to our Fellow Thurstan Shaw who will, all being well, celebrate his ninety-sixth birthday in two weeks’ time, on 27 June 2010.

Online Library Catalogue

The library catalogue software is being upgraded from 16 to 18 June 2010 and the online catalogue will not therefore be available on those dates. Users can still access our catalogue records via COPAC. To retrieve SAL records, go to the ‘Main Search’ tab and (towards the bottom of the search form, under Library) select ‘Society of Antiquaries of London’ and then fill in your search request. The Library selection needs to be re-set on this form for every subsequent search performed. Shelf location information is obtained by going to the bottom of the record display, to ‘Copies held by:’ and clicking on ‘Society of Antiquaries of London’.

Forthcoming meetings

17 June 2010: ‘Lady Anne Clifford’s Great Triptych’, by Karen Hearn, FSA, and ‘Music in the Household of Lady Anne’, by Lynne Hulse, FSA

24 June 2010: Summer soirée: ‘London Burials: recent Society research projects’. The Society awards grants to help fund a wide range of research activities. Introduced by our Treasurer, Martin Millett, two grant recipients will present the results of their research in two short talks on the theme of London burials. In ‘Anne Mowbray, Duchess of York: London’s forgotten fifteenth-century princess’, Bruce Watson, FSA, will talk about his reassessment of the sensational find in 1964 of a lead coffin containing the remains of the young princess, looking at its discovery, context and the analytical work carried out at the time. Jelena Bekvalac will then talk about ‘St Bride’s Crypt and the Lower Churchyard: revelations of a parish population’, comparing the lives and health of people of different status in one inner London parish in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, using osteological data, parish records and other documentary resources.

Tea at 4.15pm, lecture at 5pm, Pimm’s and strawberries at 6pm. Tickets for Fellows and guests cost £15 and can be booked through the Society’s admin office.

Fellows’ tour of Burlington House 24 June 2010

Places are still available on the introductory tour of Burlington House that takes place on 24 June 2010. Designed for any Fellow not yet familiar with the Society’s library and museum collections, the tours start at 11am (coffee from 10.30am) in the Council Room and will last about one and a half hours followed, for those who wish to stay, by a sandwich lunch (for which a charge of £5 is made). Places can be booked by contacting the Society’s admin office.

Kelmscott Manor Fellows’ Day, 10 July 2010

This year’s Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott Manor will take place on Saturday 10 July, when the gates will open for registration from 1.30pm. Along with the usual access to the Manor and a special seasonal tea, there will be a small additional exhibition on the garden. The programme finishes at 5pm. The event, which is always enjoyable, is open to Fellows and their guests. Tickets costing £14 (£6 for children under the age of sixteen) can be booked by email or by telephone (01367 253348), and as this has proved to be a popular event in past years, early booking is advised.

William Morris season at Rosemoor

Garden-loving Fellows might like to know that the Royal Horticultural Society has an exhibition on at its Rosemoor garden in Devon (to 30 August 2010) called William Morris: Inspired by Nature. which reminds us that Morris’s early designing years were funded by dividends from the shares he held in the highly profitable Devon Great Consols mining company, part-owned by his father. The exhibition includes a number of Morris’s original drawings, fabrics, wallpaper samples, woodcuts and furniture, on loan from the William Morris Gallery, Birmingham Art Gallery, the V & A, Sandersons Fabrics and the William Morris Society. Complementing the exhibition, local artist Tim Martin is creating garden sculptures that draw inspiration from Morris’s work (on display from 3 July to 29 August).

Launch of Westminster Abbey Chapter House

The Society’s latest publication, a monograph on the history and architecture of the Westminster Abbey Chapter House, was launched on 25 May 2010 at a reception hosted by our co-publisher, English Heritage. The reception also marked the completion of a ten-year, £10m restoration of the entire Chapter House, from the great tile pavement to the tip of the tent-like roof. Edited by our Fellows Warwick Rodwell, Consultant Archaeologist to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, and Richard Mortimer, the Keeper of the Muniments, the book results from the Society’s Tercentenary Seminar, held in 2008, and is a comprehensive assessment of a remarkable building that was consciously planned both as a monastic meeting house, and as the place where Henry III, newly constrained by the demands of Magna Carta and Simon de Montfort’s constitutional reforms, could meet his subjects in council, in a prototype of parliament.

Launching the book, our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, asked whether the octagonal and collegiate form of the chapter house might not have led to coalition government much sooner in history if this building had been the model for the House of Commons, rather than the chapel of St Stephen, where the division of the building into opposing stalls encouraged the development of a combative two-party political system.

That so much survives of the original medieval building is partly the result of the use of the chapter house as a public record office after the Reformation (our Fellow Liz Hallam-Smith tells the often amusing story of this phase in the life of the chapter house in the monograph), as a result of which the medieval tile floor, the wall paintings and the sculpture were protected by wooden flooring and bookshelves. It was also partly to do with George Gilbert Scott’s sensitive restoration (again, Scott’s role is the subject of a chapter by our Fellow Steven Brindle), which set a new standard in conservation practice and was based on a very detailed archaeological study of the surviving medieval masonry.

Westminster Abbey Chapter House: the history, art and architecture of ‘a chapter house beyond compare’ (ISBN 978-0-85431-295-5) is available from the Society’s distributors, Oxbow Books for £49.95 (or at the Fellows’ discount price of £35, using the leaflet distributed with the last mailing or available from the Library).

Immortalised in stone and in footnotes

Scott’s work on the Chapter House involved re-creating the medieval parapet and pinnacles, and some of that work of the 1870s has now had to be replaced in turn because atmospheric pollution has left parts of the parapet in an unstable state. Thirty-two new heads have been added to the building’s eight pinnacles and, in keeping with masonry traditions, several of the new heads are portraits of the people involved in the project. They include the members of the twenty-strong team of master carvers and stonemasons who worked on the restoration, Westminster Abbey clergy and members of the English Heritage/Westminster Abbey project team, including our Fellows Warwick Rodwell, Steven Brindle, Jeremy Ashbee and Juliet West. Photographs of some of the new carvings can be seen on the English Heritage website.

They are not the only Fellows to be so commemorated: Ron Shoesmith has recently been portrayed on a Hereford Cathedral corbel to recognise his fourteen years’ service as cathedral archaeologist ().

And another form of immortality is to serve as the muse or inspiration for a work of fiction that might, in years to come, be regarded as a classic. Salon’s editor spotted Fellow Sydney Anglo’s book, The Damned Art: Essays in the Literature of Witchcraft (1977), in the list of books that Salman Rushdie credits as sources for his exuberant picaresque novel, The Enchantress of Florence (2008), while A S Byatt concludes her recent work, The Children’s Book(2009), by saying ‘I owe a great deal to Marian Campbell, who showed me the gold and silver in the Victoria and Albert Museum … the Gloucester candlestick … the basement and its treasure’. And if you want to know about the seminal role these play in the book, you are in for a long but richly rewarding read.

English Heritage budget cuts

Simon Thurley also used the Chapter House launch to reveal that English Heritage has been asked to make cuts of £4.8m to this year’s budget, as its share of the overall cut of £61m announced by the Government as part of its strategy to cut the £156 billion public debt. Stressing that it was very difficult to make ‘in year’ cuts, when much of the budget had already been allocated, Simon said that everything possible would be done to ensure that grants and front-line services would not suffer. Part of the saving is to come from a recruitment freeze, including the cancellation of this year’s Historic Environment Trainee (HETS) programme.

The EH cut amounts to about 3 per cent of its annual budget, and similar cuts have been made to the DCOMS internal budget and to bodies in the heritage sector funded by DCOMS: Tate will be cut by £2.1m, the British Museum will lose £1.8m and the Science Museum £1.476m.

Future funding of the heritage sector by DCOMS will depend on the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the results of which are likely to be announced in September 2010.

EH launches National Heritage Protection Plan consultation

On the other hand, there is no stopping the momentum of heritage protection reform, whose various strands English Heritage is bringing together under the umbrella of the ‘National Heritage Protection Plan’, or NHPP. This consist of a long list of strategic aims and research themes that are ranked in order of priority (high, medium or low) depending on factors such as the vulnerability of the heritage resource or the scale of the threat. For example, ‘understanding the best means of adapting historic buildings to reduce their environmental impact’ scores highly, whereas ‘helping crime enforcement agencies to reduce theft and looting and reducing the impact of anti-social behaviour on the heritage’ gets a medium ranking.

English Heritage now wants to know if it has got the list and rankings right and has launched an online consultation that will run until 30 June 2010. EH stresses that the plan is intended to evolve and will be reviewed every year as priorities change.

HLF training grants: CBA, BM and Glamorgan Archives to benefit

Cuts are not on the table at the Heritage Lottery Fund; in fact, we can confidently look forward to more money being available to the heritage from this source because lottery ticket sales are higher than they were predicted (in a recession, people are spending more on the lottery, not less) and as a result of the Government’s policy of restoring parity between the four good causes of the arts, sport, heritage and charitable activity (at present, the latter — the Big Lottery Fund — receives 50 per cent and the other three share the remainder, but a gradual equalisation of the shares will be implemented over the next five years).

This week the HLF announced that it was planning to devote £17 million of its income to creating 808 new training places under its ‘Skills for the Future’ programme, targeted at trainees seeking a career in heritage, whether in traditional craft skills or conservation training or in skills to do with heritage resource management, education and community engagement.

The Council for British Archaeology is one of fifty-four organisations whose training programme has been approved by the HLF: it has been awarded a grant of £604,000 for a three-year programme to train nine people a year (twenty-seven in total) to work with voluntary sector archaeology groups. The project will be managed by the CBA, but bursary places will be hosted by a variety of organisations already working in this field. The first round of training places will be offered from early in 2011.

Under the same scheme, the British Museum will receive £510,200 to provide fifteen people — at least half of them from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds — with 18-month traineeships in curation and collection management. Six months of that time will be spent at the British Museum and twelve months with a partner museum.

And a grant of £224,400 will enable Glamorgan Archives to provide work-based placements covering digitisation, research and conservation skills. The project will help fill a local skills gap, and agencies such as Jobcentre Plus will help identify unemployed men under the age of thirty who would like to take part in the scheme.

New National Trust Apprenticeship Scheme

Quite separately from the HLF initiative, the National Trust is funding a major new apprenticeship scheme in a bid to tackle the severe building skills shortage in the heritage sector. The programme, which is aimed largely at sixteen to nineteen year olds, will train young men and women in traditional skills, including stone masonry, carpentry, joinery, lead work, plumbing, painting and decorating. The three-year full-time programme, which begins in September, will offer sixteen positions at National Trust properties across the country where apprentices will train alongside staff due to retire within that time. The aim is to provide continuity of valued skills by enabling those who are retiring to teach and mentor the next generation.

Rory Cullen, Head of Building at the National Trust, said: ‘We currently employ around 130 direct labour staff across the country with an average age of just under fifty. With nearly 19 per cent of those staff due to retire within four years, rising to 25 per cent in six years, the need to recruit skilled people in their place is a priority.’

Our Fellow Philip Venning, Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, welcomed the scheme, saying ‘well done the National Trust for an initiative that will have a wider benefit for the nation’s architectural heritage, both now and for many years to come’.

Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessment — Principles and Practice

English Heritage has just published new guidance on historic area assessment. Quite separate from Conservation Area Appraisal, this is intended to help local authority staff and developers involved in the early planning stages of eco towns, regeneration schemes, housing growth areas, redevelopment schemes, or in the formulation of master plans, Heritage Partnership Agreements or Area Action Plans, to identify quickly which historic features contribute to the character of the area and should be restored, protected and enhanced. It also argues the case for ensuring that new developments within the area enhance the existing character — no ‘could be anywhere’ architecture here please!

Examples are drawn from places such as the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, the village of Harmondsworth near Heathrow, Berwick-upon-Tweed, the Sea Mills Garden Suburb in Bristol and South Shoreditch. Pat Aird, Head of National Planning Advice, English Heritage, said: ‘The rich variety and unique character present at intimate local levels are what make places attractive to businesses, visitors and residents. This guidance will help people understand and protect those finer grain details that make our neighbourhoods special … [if they] understand their surroundings better, they will be able to discuss and decide on new developments from an informed position which ultimately leads to a better stewardship of the historic environment without hindering positive change.’

The full version of Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessment — Principles and Practice, and a shorter version specifically aimed at local authorities and developers, are available from the HELM.

An end to garden grabbing?

A practice that is highly inimical to historic character is the practice known as ‘garden grabbing’, whereby large urban gardens have been seen as ripe for development because they were classified as ‘brownfield’ (or previously developed) sites in planning guidance under the last government. The new government has ended the practice by amending the guidance given in Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. The amendment adds the words ‘private residential gardens’ to the list of types of land that are now excluded from the brownfield site definition. Greg Clark, Minister for Decentralisation, said: ‘it is ridiculous that gardens have until now been classified in the same group as derelict factories and disused railway sidings’. John Prescott, who originally insisted that urban gardens be included in the definition, responded to the amendment by accusing the government of ‘conspiring with bankers, millionaires and the wealthy to keep young kids homeless’.

English Heritage Chair speaks up for heritage in the Queen’s Speech debate

Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, claimed to be making a kind of maiden speech in the House of Lords on 3 June because it was her first from the Opposition benches (Kay Andrews was previously Labour’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government). It was also, she said, her first speech on ‘the historic environment and the buildings and places which frame our lives, experiences and memories’.

The theme of her speech was the role of heritage in the ‘national recovery programme’. Welcoming the appointment of John Penrose as the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, she said that: ‘Heritage is the mainstream of our tourism industry. Four out of ten people who come here say that they do so because of our heritage. Accounting for £2.6 billion from international tourism and a further £5 billion from domestic tourism, as an economic asset it is just below agriculture and well above motor manufacture. It creates jobs. Between them, the private and public sectors of heritage provide 270,000 jobs and they are not just in the south east. They are also in those remote and rural areas of the country where options are so few. It has the capacity to grow and become an even greater source of national reputation and wealth.’

She also placed heritage at the heart of the sustainability debate. ‘Some of the best and most sustainable examples of social and economic regeneration in recent years (such as Weymouth and Blackpool) have been successful because they are built around their heritage.’ She also spoke up for conservation standards in the UK, saying that ‘this country leads the world in the care and protection we give the historic environment. People from Moscow, Naples and all over the world come to see how we have done it and to learn from us. Other countries are waking up to what they have already lost. If we do not send the signal that this matters to us, we will lose not only culturally but economically. We will also lose our leadership, which is so important to the rest of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth than that this does not matter. Failure will carry an extremely high price.’

Baroness Andrews regretted the impact of the recession on our industrial and cultural heritage, saying that historic property owners and developers were finding it difficult to borrow money for restoration projects. ‘Local authorities are also losing skilled staff, including conservation officers and planners — the people who guarantee that the places where we live are the best they can possibly be’, she said.

This led to a concluding plea that the Government should now provide parliamentary time for a heritage protection bill that would ‘reduce red tape, simplify the system and increase our ability to protect buildings and places at risk’. ‘The cost of not doing that will be the huge bills of dereliction and social diminution in the next few years’, she said.

The full text of Baroness Andrews’s speech can be read in Hansard.

Stonehenge road closure to go to public inquiry

Baroness Andrews also referred to the urgency of improving the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge, ‘which is of global significance and requires a setting which is worthy of that’, in the same week that Wiltshire County Council announced that a ‘non-statutory Public Inquiry’ will be held into the proposed closure of the section of the A344 from Airman’s Corner to Byway 12. The timing of that inquiry is uncertain at this stage because it is contingent on another decision, to be made by the Secretary of State, on whether or not to hold a separate public inquiry into the closure of a separate section of the A344 from Byway 12 to Stonehenge Bottom.

When Wiltshire County Council sought views on the road closure earlier this year, 499 representations were received, of which 325 were objections, 161 were in support and 13 were comments.

Broadlands Archive is saved for the nation with £2 million NHMF grant

Our Fellow Professor Chris Woolgar, Head of Special Collections at the University of Southampton’s Hartley Library, says he is delighted to announce the successful outcome of the University’s seven-month campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the Broadlands Archives. The University reached its £2.85m target on 4 June 2010 when the National Heritage Memorial Fund announced that it would give a grant of £1.99m to secure the archives for the nation.

Comprising more than 4,500 boxes of documents, the Broadlands Archives is one of the most significant manuscript collections in the country. It includes correspondence from Lord Palmerston, as Foreign Secretary and as Prime Minister, which sheds light on Britain’s relations with its colonies and other foreign powers and on the notoriously difficult relationship between Queen Victoria and her minister. The collection also includes the diaries of the nineteenth-century social reformer and philanthropist, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, who championed the protection of child chimney sweeps and shorter working hours for children in factories, as well as approximately 250,000 papers and 50,000 photographs of Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Professor Woolgar said that the historical importance of the archive cannot be overestimated: ‘In particular, without them we would find it difficult to understand fully the foundations of the independent states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as the documents include notes written by Mahatma Gandhi that chart his shift from fervent opposition to the partition of the country to reluctant acquiescence.’

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the NHMF, said: ‘This acquisition is of immense national and historical importance. Now that the fundraising target has been reached, the University of Southampton is on track to ensure that the records of those who stood at the very forefront of British political life will be preserved for future generations of historians, scholars and the public to explore and enjoy.’

An online exhibition showing highlights of the collection can be seen on the Broadlands Archives website.

World’s ‘earliest illustrated Christian manuscript’ found in Ethiopia

Radiocarbon dating carried out in Oxford University’s research laboratory for archaeology has established that the Garima Gospels, from a remote monastery in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, date not from AD 1100, as was previously believed, but from between AD 330 and 650. In its report on the dating, the Art Newspaper for June 2010 quotes our Fellow Michelle Brown as saying that the discovery throws new light on the spread of Christianity to sub-Saharan Africa, and on the sources and models for Ethiopia’s vibrant early Christian art.

The Garima Gospels are in two volumes of 348 and 322 pages, and the illuminated pages include canon tables, depictions of the Evangelists and of the Temple in Jerusalem. Ethiopian monastic tradition has it that the monastery’s founder, Father Garima, copied the Gospels himself and took a single day to complete the task (aided by God who delayed sunset until the work was done). Jacques Mercier, the specialist in Ethiopian art, says that the images are similar to Syrian art of the sixth century, and might be the work of an Ethiopian artist working in a Middle Eastern studio, or a Middle Eastern artist working in Ethiopia.

The Gospels have never left the remote monastery, and dating was carried out on two small samples that had broken from the brittle parchment: one gave a date range of AD 330 to 540 and the other of AD 430 to 650, with a likely date of AD 487/8, some decades older than the earliest surviving illustrated Christian manuscript, the Rabbula Gospels of AD 586. The new date links the manuscript to the time of the founding of the monastery in AD 494.

Our Fellow Nicholas Pickwoad is quoted as saying that he has visited the monastery, and studied the copper-gilt and wood binding of the first of the two volumes, which he believes could be contemporary with the contents, making this the world’s oldest bookbinding still attached to its original text.

The state of the Gospels is causing concern to bodies such as the London-based Ethiopian Heritage Fund, which paid for conservators to visit the monastery in 2006 and assess the condition and make recommendations. Pending further work, a church on the edge of the monastery complex is being converted to provide secure storage that will be protected by armed guards.

Cambridge University Library to publish rare faith and science books on internet

Thousands of Cambridge University Library’s rare books and manuscripts are to be made available online thanks to a £1.5m donation from the former businessman, Dr Leonard Polonsky. The gift will be used to create the infrastructure for the UL’s ‘Digital Library for the 21st Century’. Digitisation of the 600-year-old library’s collections will be completed in stages, beginning with works that fall under the headings of ‘Foundations of Faith’ and ‘Foundations of Science’.

Among works in the first category are some of the oldest surviving versions of the Qur'an, including an eighth-century copy of the Surat al-Anfal, the eighth chapter of the Qur’an, the sixth-century Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, given to the university in 1581 by Calvin’s friend and successor, Theodore Beza, and regarded as one of the five most important sources for the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in Latin and Greek, and the Anglo-Saxon Book of Cerne and the Book of Deer.

The development of modern science will be represented by Newton’s annotated Principia Mathematica, copies of his lectures as Lucasian Professor and proofs of his Opticks. In time, the manuscripts of Darwin and Stephen Hawking will be added to the collection.

Dr Polonsky, founder of the Polonsky-Coexist Lectureship in Jewish Studies at the University, said: ‘As reading and research become increasingly electronic, my hope is that this grant will serve as a catalyst for the digitisation and linking of the great libraries of the world so that their riches can be enjoyed by a global public.’

Lock up your Meissen

The Art Newspaper also reports that thieves targeting historic houses are increasingly interested in small and portable porcelain pieces. Data on art theft comes from Dick Ellis, former head of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit, who says that instant disposal is what the thieves hope to achieve. Thirty-six thefts or attempted thefts have taken place in the last three years in which porcelain has been taken, ranging from individual pieces, such as a Meissen figure, The Indiscreet Harlequin (1743, by Johann Kändler), to a twenty-eight-piece Worcester dinner service. Ellis has identified three gangs from their style of entry who he believes are responsible for most of the thefts; they break into properties that are open to the public having visited the property first so that and know exactly what they want and where it is, typically spending less than a minute inside the property after they have broken in.

Venice selling its historic palazzi

The Art Newspaper Group’s Editorial Director, our Fellow Anna Somers Cocks, has called on the members of Venice City Council to stop selling off its historic palazzi to the highest bidder and to consider more appropriate uses. In her capacity as Chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, she has described the city council’s sale of property assets as ‘an ad hoc strategy driven by panic … like auctioning the family silver instead of sorting out your estate’.

The city council is selling property as a response to a sharp fall in its income at the same time as the Moses flood prevention barrier, designed to save the city from rising sea levels, is eating up funds. Revenue from the city’s casino, which provided a quarter of the city’s annual income in the past, is significantly down. As the population of Venice has fallen, banks, post offices and government offices have relocated to mainland Mestre, where the majority of Venetians now live, leaving the city with empty buildings, like the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the former post office, or the Palazzo Sagredo, that are now being put up for sale. Hotel groups have snapped up the buildings: more than forty new hotels have opened in Venice in the last five years, leading to an over-supply of accommodation.

‘We think it would be much better to offer some of the palazzi to research institutes’ says Anna. ‘That would bring in a much wider variety of people. Otherwise you end up with a dislocated city, devoted only to tourism.’ Francesca Bortolotto-Possati, proprietor of the Hotel Bauer, agrees with Venice in Peril: ‘In just nine years, the number of hotel beds in Venice has increased from 14,000 to 26,000,’ he says. ‘It's ridiculous: occupancy rates are down to about 50 per cent and some hotels are close to bankruptcy because they can't fill their rooms. Rather than having more hotels, we should encourage companies and cultural foundations to use these old palazzi as their headquarters.’

unearthed exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Our Fellow Simon Kaner is co-curator of this major new exhibition (22 June to 29 August 2010), which brings together 100 prehistoric ceramic figurines from Albania, Macedonia, Japan, Romania and the UK and juxtaposes them with contemporary works. These evocative figures focus on two of the earliest and most elaborate traditions of ceramic figurine making: the Jōmon from the Japanese archipelago (c 16,000 to 2,000 years ago) and the Neolithic and Eneolithic from the Balkans (c 8,500 to 4,500 years ago). The exhibition reveals intriguing similarities and differences and asks what these objects meant to their makers, were they goddesses and gods, toys or portraits and why were they so often deliberately broken?

Many of the figurines were designed to be held in the hand (typically 450mm in height); unearthed will look at the ways in which people interact with such small objects and how their size may effect how they are perceived. Visitors to the exhibition will be given biscuit-fired figurines made by artist Sue Maufe, enabling them to experience the tactile quality of the ancient figures they will see on display; they will also be able to break their figurine, adding it to a heap of fragments in the gallery reminiscent of the archaeological sites where figurines have been found.

‘unearthed sets a new agenda for art and archaeology, linking local concerns with themes of global significance,’ says Simon Kaner, ‘as well as breaking new ground in the understanding and appreciation of figurines and how they contribute to what it means to be human.’

unearthed runs concurrently with Henry Moore Textiles, the critically acclaimed touring exhibition, developed by The Henry Moore Foundation, which shows a little-known aspect of his work and reveals his passion for colour through a series of designs for dress and upholstery fabrics dating from the 1940s and 1950s. Moore’s textile designs arose out of his socialist belief that modern art should be a part of everyday life and accessible to all, an idea summed up in a newspaper review of 1953: ‘we can’t all afford to hang a Picasso on the wall, but very soon we’ll be having Henry Moore curtains at the windows!’ By contrast with the drab colours of the war and post-war Utility years, Moore’s designs are based in jazz-age zigzags, sea creatures, caterpillars and piano-key motifs and swirls of vivid colour.

Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: a social and cultural history

This small exhibition in Room 90 (Print Room) of the British Museum (on until 15 August 2010) marks the publication of Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: a Mirror to the World (ISBN: 978 0 7141 2819 1; British Museum Press), by our Fellows Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe. Judy says that research for the book uncovered many unknown images in the Print Room that are shown together with related jewellery. The display focuses on what jewellery meant to the people who wore it through specific aspects of Victorian culture: Victoria and Albert and the royal family; the role of international exhibitions; novelty jewels prompted by topical events; and the appropriation of historical styles in the creation of national identity. The display also reveals some of the book’s new discoveries: a puzzling inscription on a cravat-pin, ‘Not for Joseph’, for example, turns out to be the title of a popular music-hall hit of the day, written in 1867 by Arthur Lloyd, and is shown together with the song-sheet.

The book, the result of thirty years of research, is a comprehensive account of jewellery use and symbolism in an age when expanding foreign trade, the new illustrated press and a growing tourism industry brought jewellery from many parts of the world to a wide audience. The Victorian love of novelty resulted in jewellery that reflected the Celtic and medieval revivals, the invention of new materials, such as aluminium (all the rage from the 1850s), or the so-called Abyssinian gold (an alloy of copper and zinc; in vogue from the 1870s), the impact of topical events (pendants were made from pieces of the first transatlantic telephone cable) and the Victorian sense of humour (so-called electric jewels, battery powered with tiny light bulbs, used to create tiaras or hair combs with added sparkle). The authors’ literary analysis shows how jewels were used in fiction to build character or add to the plot, while the lost language of jewels in portraits is decoded (the collecting and wearing of classically influenced cameos and jewels was associated with education and culture, for example).

Feedback

Regarding the news that Nick Clegg read Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge (Robinson College, 1986—9), our Fellow David Phillipson says that his archaeology would have been restricted to his first year, since he took Part II Social Anthropology: one of David’s Social Anthropology colleagues recalls the future Deputy Prime Minister falling asleep in one of his lectures. ‘I do not know,’ says David, ‘whether archaeology proved equally stimulating!’

Fellow Brenda O’Connor draws attention to another high-profile public figure — Sienna Miller — who admits in the New Statesman that she would like to have been an archaeologist if she had not had a career as an actress who is rarely far from the front pages of the gossip magazines.

Fellow Tim Clough sends more dispiriting news from the museum world: Lincolnshire County Council has announced plans to close Stamford and Grantham museums and Church Farm Museum at Skegness (see the Rutland and Stamford Mercury). Tim comments that: ‘these may be small museums, but the local nature of the collections has a value in terms of heritage: we are continually being told that heritage is important and socially valuable (and as a former museum curator who am I to disagree!), but at the same time such pressures are being put on the profession that it becomes increasingly difficult to see how, when the climate does improve, it will be possible to recover the lost skills and personal knowledge’.

News of Fellows

Friends of our Fellow Kirsty Rodwell, who suffered a brain haemorrhage on 11 January 2010, and who was in a coma for many weeks, report that she has now begun the long slow road to recovery, having recently been moved to the Mineral Water Hospital in Bath, where she is receiving speech- and physio-therapy.

The Art Newspaper’s June issue revealed that our Fellow Ros Saville intends to retire as Director of the Wallace Collection in October 2011 and that the trustees will shortly begin the search for her successor.

Congratulations are due to our Fellow John Kenyon, Librarian of Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales — who was awarded a PhD at a viva on 2 June by Cardiff University. John’s doctorate by published work was based on his publications of the last ten years and a 10,000-word commentary on ‘Castles studies in Britain since 1945’.

Fellow Colin Renfrew was mentioned in the Sunday Times last week, but only in passing since the news item concerned Magnus Renfrew, ‘son of our most distinguished academic archaeologist’, who is about to eclipse his father, at least in the glamorous world of international art. He is, said the Sunday Times, the brains behind the very successful Art HK Fair, which attracted a record 46,000 visitors this year (up 65 per cent on last year). Showing that Asian buyers consider contemporary art a good investment, the newspaper reported that the twenty-nine internal art dealers represented at the fair succeeded in selling Damien Hirst’s Inescapable Truth for £1.75m and works by Anish Kapoor and Chinese artists Zhang Xiao Gang and Liu Ye.

Fellows Simon Jenkins (National Trust Chairman) and John Goodall (Architectural Editor of Country Life) went head to head in a debate at the Hay Festival on 6 June on whether the National Trust is guilty of vulgarising and dumbing down the curating of Britain’s heritage. Salon’s editor expressed views on this topic in this newsletter three years ago and is still smarting from the response from defenders of the Trust’s honour, so John was very brave to take on the task of chief prosecutor, but he did not have to face Sir Simon on his own, as he was aided by the vociferous Stephen Bayley, the cultural commentator, who had already accused the Trust of ‘Disney-fication’ in a preview of his contribution that was published in the Independent.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Sir Simon made no apologies for appealing to the public’s love of ‘voyeurism’ if it meant attracting more people to the Trust’s properties, and that he was happy for National Trust staff ‘to take lessons from the Walt Disney company’, saying ‘they are very successful and I do not hold them in the contempt that you do’. Mr Bayley described the approach as ‘infantile’, while John Goodall said the fabric of properties could be damaged by the Trust’s ‘cuddly approach’; John also raised questions over the authenticity of an experience being put on at Upton House, where visitors can ‘join the guests of Lord and Lady Bearsted and experience the weekend house party of a 1930s millionaire’.

The normally quiet world of dendrochronology has also been enmeshed in controversy recently. In an article entitled ‘Chainsaws at dusk’, the Independent reported that climate-change deniers are trying to use tree-ring data to prove their case, and have used Freedom of Information legislation to demand that our Fellow Professor Mike Baillie should hand over data from forty years of research into Irish tree rings at Queen's University Belfast to Doug Keenan, a City banker turned ‘climate analyst’, who is seeking evidence for a medieval warm period, 1,000 years ago, that would counter-act the notion that the current episode of global warming is unique and man-made. Professor Baillie insists that this data is not suitable for use in the climate change debate because tree-ring growth is largely a reflection of rainfall, not temperature (and, as he might have added, many of the Irish trees used for dendrochronology grew in bogs where it was always wetter anyway).

Happier for the National Trust is the news announced by our Fellow Alistair Laing, the Trust’s curator of pictures and sculpture, that a work provisionally entitled Apollo (or Hymen) crowning a Poet and giving him a Spouse is a genuine Tintoretto, and not the work of a follower. X-ray and infrared analysis by the Hamilton Kerr Institute, in Cambridge, has helped to identify the style and brush strokes of the Venetian Renaissance artist. Its rich colours restored through the removal of dark varnish, the 8ft 10in by 7ft 9in picture has now been re-hung in the dining room of Kingston Lacy, bequeathed to the Trust by Henry John Ralph Bankes in 1981.

Alistair says that there are still many unanswered questions about the picture, such as for whom it was painted, and where, and what the actual subject is, and who are the figures depicted. For pictures and for nine questions to which answers are still being sought, see the Guardian or the Daily Telegraph.

Finally, for a profile of our Fellow Martha Sharp Joukowsky, see the website of the American Institute for Archaeology, which has an interview with Martha honouring her receipt of the Bandelier Award for Public Service to Archaeology at the AIA’s Annual Gala, held on 28 April 2010. The Award, which she shares with her husband, Artemis Joukowsky, is partly in recognition of her work as president of the AIA between 1989 and 1993, during which time she worked tirelessly to secure offices for the Institute, increase its membership and raise funds, but also for her work over forty years on excavations throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia, most notably her excavation of the Great Temple at Petra in Jordan.

Lives remembered

The Society has been informed of the death of our Fellow Raymond Allchin on 4 June 2010, at the age of 86. Together with his wife and co-author, Bridget, who is also a Fellow, Raymond was a towering figure in the field of Indian, Pakistani and South Asian archaeology, based in the Department of Oriental Studies at Cambridge from 1959. His Times obituary can be read in full on the ‘Obituaries’ page of the Society’s website.

Events

22 June 2010: SAVE’s annual Conservation and Heritage Book Fair. Leading heritage organisations and publishers will be gathering together to sell their publications (many at special discounted rates of up to 25 per cent) at The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ, from noon to 8pm. The event will be supplemented by short talks and book signings by prominent architectural authors, including Dan Cruickshank, Fellow Marcus Binney and Jeremy Musson (times to be confirmed). See SAVE’s website for further details.

24 June 2010: ‘Sleeping Beauty: Historic Buildings, the Public, and the Art of Slow Conservation’. SAVE’s Annual Lecture will be given at The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, 19—22 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3SG, at 6.15pm (for a 7pm start) by Christopher Woodward, museum director, architectural historian and author of In Ruins, which takes a critical look at the future of conserving and presenting historic buildings. In a world pre-occupied with interpretation and access, he will argue that funding bodies constantly underestimate the public’s ability to react imaginatively to design and space. He will argue that old buildings find their own meanings and audience without the need for graphic designers, whiz bang audio-visuals, and interpretation consultants. At a time when more and more new museums and heritage attractions are faced with closure, he also foresees a new age of dereliction, and a new type of ruin.

See SAVE’s website for further information.

28 June 2010: Horace Walpole and the collection of portrait miniatures and enamels at Strawberry Hill. Stephen Lloyd, FSA, President of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Fine Arts (ICOM), will give this paper in the Seminars in the History of Collecting series on Monday 28 June, at 5.30pm in the Wallace Collection Lecture Theatre, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN.

This paper will argue that Walpole’s outstanding collection of British portrait miniatures and Continental enamels was at the centre of his Strawberry Hill project. Many of these precious works were acquired before he purchased Strawberry Hill, and they were displayed in the rosewood cabinet (V&A Museum) that Walpole designed himself and later installed at the heart of his kunstkammer at Strawberry Hill — a crypto-religious octagon known as ‘the Tribune’. A newly discovered plan by Walpole for arranging the miniatures and enamels in the cabinet will be discussed in order to demonstrate the importance to him of the themes of family and friendship, as well as of history and the history of art.

Booking essential: contact Leda Cosentino.

2 July 2010: ‘2020 Vision: a new era in British archaeology?’. The annual meeting of the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers (FAME) will consider the future of British archaeology following the publication of PPS5 and similar planned reforms across the UK. Held in association with ALGAO, it will include views from both organisations, together with those of the CBA and the IfA. Speakers will include Dave Barrett, Stewart Bryant, Mike Heyworth, Peter Hinton, Alan Leslie and Adrian Tindall. The meeting will take place at Merchant Taylors Hall, York. Admission is free to FAME and ALGAO members, and £40 to non-members, including lunch, morning coffee and afternoon tea. Advance booking is essential: for a booking form contact Hilda Young.

21 to 29 July 2010: The Wakefield Historical Society is recreating the funeral procession of the Duke of York from Pontefract, where he was temporarily buried after his death in 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield, to Fotheringhay, where he was buried in the ancestral church. The idea is to raise awareness of the contemporary sources for the event and show people how much still remains from the original period. The original route will be followed, with stops at Doncaster, Blyth, Tuxford le Clay, Newark, Grantham and Stamford, where Vespers for the Dead will be said or sung in the church, where the body rested, and a talk will be give by an invited lecturer. Bookings are now being taken: for further details, see the event’s website.

20 October 2010: ‘The archaeology of Æthelred the Unready’. This third Sir David Wilson Lecture in Medieval Studies will be given by our Fellow Simon Keynes and it marks the start of the 2010/11 Institute of Archaeology/British Museum medieval seminar series, which will continue throughout the academic year. This first lecture in the series will take place at 5.30pm in Room G6 of the Institute building on the north side of Gordon Square; subsequent seminars will take place in Room 612 of the same building. The lectures are free and all are welcome: details of the remaining lectures in the series can be found on the Institute’s website.

Books by Fellows

The Harleian Society has just published The Heraldry of Foreigners in England 1400—1700 by our Fellow Michael Siddons, Wales Herald Extraordinary (ISBN 978-0-9540443-3-6; New Series Vol 19). This is a compilation of arms recorded for foreigners in England covering both visitors and settlers. The sources include grants of arms and augmentations made by English sovereigns and kings of arms, arms noted by the English heralds in the course of their duties at visitations and in arranging heraldic funerals, and arms taken from evidences in England deriving from foreign authorities.

Henry VI granted arms to several of his Gascon subjects whom he had ennobled. Edward IV made a grant to Louis de Bruges, Earl of Winchester. Henry VII made three such grants, one to Vincenzo Cappello, captain of the Venetian galleys transporting wool to Flanders. Henry VIII made thirteen grants to foreigners, some to departing ambassadors, exceeded only by the twenty-four grants of James I. Apart from diplomats, other recipients were soldiers, French Protestant exiles, drainage engineers, artists and Dutch adherents of William III. There are some 160 entries, each with manuscript sources given in detail and the full text of any surviving letters patent.

The Society’s monograph on Westminster Abbey Chapter House is not the only major study of the abbey’s heritage to be published recently. Also out is The Westminster Retable: History, Technique, Conservation, edited by our Fellow Paul Binski and Ann Massing (ISBN 9781905375288; Harvey Miller). This book celebrates the remarkable survival of the two altar panels made for the abbey’s high altar in Henry III’s reign, which have been comprehensively studied as a result of a conservation programme carried out at the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridge between 1998 and 2005. Among the findings of this all-embracing book are that the retable is closely associated with the dedication of the new shrine to St Edward the Confessor in October 1269 (a combination of dendrochronological work and studies of the constructional history of the east end of the abbey have established a date for its execution of between 1259 and 1269) and that French artists were involved, though specific names and identities for the artists remain elusive in the absence of contemporary documentation.

Towards the end of his latest book, The Making of the British Landscape (ISBN 9781846142055: Allen Lane), our Fellow Francis Pryor considers the future, and worries that landscape history is becoming too much the preserve of the academic; in part this book is an attempt to counter that threat and help ordinary people to read the landscape and look at it with informed, intelligent and analytical eyes, in the way that Hoskins taught us to do with his Making of the English Landscape. The necessity for this new book, says Francis, is to bring the story up to date with all that we now know about the landscape since Hoskins published his seminal work in 1955, although in interviews Francis is at pains to stress that this is not ‘Pryor up-dating Hoskins’, but rather his own book.

Hoskins is often accused of romanticising the landscape (to which one might want to respond ‘and why not’?); Francis is capable of the same, in his driving narratives, which no less a critic than Adam Nicholson (who should know) described in his review of the book as a ‘deeply empathetic … and magisterial history of the British landscape, which dares to embrace the big sweep of everywhere over the whole of time [and to be] utterly accessible, a chronicle of foible and failure, family and fortune, the unwritten account of ordinary men and women, recorded only in the forms of the land itself.’

If this makes Francis’s book sound dangerously like a second cousin to a Jeffrey Archer novel, Francis can also be shockingly unromantic: he concludes that nobody will be able to write a book like this fifty years hence. In the fifty-five years since Hoskins, the landscape has been homogenised and denuded. Soon there will be nothing left. As Francis warns: ‘We are staring at the possibility that in a matter of years this country will have become archaeologically barren.’ Sobering thought.

Winchester Museums Service and English Heritage have just published a new contribution to the archaeology of the city: Feeding a Roman Town: Environmental Evidence from Excavations in Winchester, by Mark Maltby (ISBN 9780861350193). Other Fellow contributors include the late Jennifer Coy and Patrick Ottaway, who was also part of the editorial team along with Dale Serjeantson and Helen Rees. The book provides a record and an analysis of environmental evidence (principally animal bones) from sites in the extra-mural areas of Winchester and assesses what the material adds to the understanding of the Roman town. Included are some very large groups of late Roman animal bone from the Victoria Road sites outside the north gate of Roman Winchester, including important pit and well assemblages; all told, the book gives a detailed picture of food supply, consumption and disposal over a period of almost 400 years.

Our Fellow Malcolm Haydn Jones has remedied what he describes as a major oversight in the history of English visual art by devoting his new book to the subject of The Print in Early Modern England: an Historical Oversight (Yale; ISBN 9780300136975). As an insight into the culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England, this is a powerful corrective: the book reproduces page after page of popular printed material that astonishes for its detail, its range of iconographic references and its biting satire; at the same time there are prints of monsters, freaks, portents and prodigies that beg the question where the line begins between sophisticated satire and innocent gullibility; some pictures have an almost fairy-tale quality; others still have the power to shock in their often vicious satire.

The concluding chapter considers the significance of this wealth of visual material — much of it never reproduced before — for the cultural history of England in the early modern era. This pioneering, important book enlarges the iconographic repertoire of the period, and one that calls attention to the influence of the German print repertoire on the English equivalent and calls for a re-appraisal of cultural relations between England and Germany during the early modern era.

Medieval Military Monuments in Lincolnshire (ISBN 9781407306445; Archaeopress: BAR 515) has been written by our Fellow Mark Downing to redress the fact that only four of Lincolnshire’s sixty-two military effigies have so far been the subject of published studies, despite so many of them being of national importance, including the effigies at Careby, Halton-Holegate, Holbeach, Kirkstead Abbey, Stoke Rochford and Surfleet. The main object of this corpus of surviving examples is to provide an accurate analytical description of these figures for what amounts to some of England’s finest extant medieval monumental sculpture. The catalogue is arranged chronologically, and every effigy is illustrated with a catalogue entry that describes the effigy and the armour shown and gives an account of the person thought to be commemorated.

Vacancies

Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (DCMS): World Heritage Site Expert Panel; expressions of interest are requested by not later than 5pm on 18 June 2010
The UK Government is convening a panel of experts to consider applications for inclusion on a new Tentative List of sites for potential nomination to UNESCO for World Heritage status and to make recommendations to Ministers by the end of 2010. Qualified individuals with a knowledge of cultural and natural heritage are invited to apply to serve on the panel, which will have up to ten members. For full details, see the DCOMS website.

ICON (The Institute of Conservation): Chief Executive
Salary £50,000; closing date 25 June 2010

ICON aims to advance knowledge and education in conservation and achieve the long-term preservation of our cultural heritage. It does this by providing guidance, advocacy, training and education opportunities and by uniting the conservation profession and the wider heritage community. As Chief Executive, you will lead ICON through the major changes anticipated within the sector, nurturing and enhancing the organisation, developing its vision and strategy and leading a committed team.

The position would suit someone with strong financial and business planning, leadership and general management skills built up in the private, public or voluntary sectors and capable of being adapted to a small organisation. Experience of leading and implementing strategic thinking and developing policy is essential, as is expertise in developing financial stability. Excellent communication and influencing skills are a must, as well as a hands-on approach.

For further information, contact ICON’s recruitment advisers PrimeTimers, quoting reference Icon06.

Cowdray Heritage Trust: Trustees; closing date 2 July 2010
After a major repair programme costing over £4m, the ruins of this magnificent Tudor nobleman’s palace were reopened to the public in 2007 in the care of an independent Cowdray Heritage Trust. This Midhurst-based Trust now wishes to recruit up to five new Trustees, including a Chairman-designate, with skills and experience in one or more of the following areas: financial management, business planning, marketing, tourism management, heritage education, heritage management, and media and public relations. Further information is available on the Trust’s website.

English Heritage: Two Commissioner Vacancies; deadline 6 July 2010
The Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport is seeking to appoint individuals with expertise in Education/Community Engagement and Local Authority Representation as Commissioners of English Heritage. For further information, see the DCOMS website.