Salon Archive

Issue: 24

Fellows’ news

In the Special Honours List of 5 August published in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Nicholas Assheton, FSA, former Treasurer and Extra Equerry to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and thus a former member of The Queen Mother's senior staff, was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

Dr Peter Carrington, FSA, of Chester Archaeology has written to report the death of our Fellow Dennis Petch on 31 July. The funeral will be on 7 August at Chester.

Harry Cooper Brown, of Jackson, Mississippi, has written to the Society to say that he is compiling a biographical bibliography of the late Dr Trevor Henry Hall (1910—91), FSA, of Yorkshire. Dr Hall’s son, Dr Richard R Hall, late of the University of York, is providing assistance in this endeavour, but Mr Brown is also keen to hear from any Fellows who might have personal recollections of Dr Hall. He can be contacted by emailing: flauto1@aol.com.

Ancient Monuments Act anniversary

David Breeze, FSA, wants everyone to remember that 18 August is a significant date for all antiquarians, marking as it does the 120th anniversary of the passing of the 1882 Ancient Monuments Act, the first modern conservation legislation to be passed by a British government, and the Act that introduced the concept of a scheduled ancient monument.

FfOF progress report

Last week, Dr Kim Howells, MP, gave the UK parliament a blow-by-blow account of progress made on implementing the recommendations contained in A Force for Our Future, the Government’s strategy document for the future of the heritage. Seven months on from the report’s publication, Dr Howells counted the following among his list of DCMS achievements:

 The launch of the Listed Places of Worship Grant scheme
 Publication of Paradise Preserved, a guide to local authorities and cemetery managers on the care of the built and natural history of cemeteries
 Completion of the Quinquennial Review of English Heritage, which is now taking forward the recommendations as part of its modernization programme
 Commencement of the review of PPG 15 Planning and the Historic Environment and PPG16 Archaeology and Planning, with full involvement from the sector
 The establishment of Heritage Link as an umbrella organization for non-governmental organizations working in the heritage sector
 The setting up of a heritage working group by the Construction Industry Training Board, with the full participation of the Building Skills Action Group and English Heritage, to co-ordinate the promotion of heritage skills. (The Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage are also promoting training in conservation craft skills by making it a requirement that all projects over �1 million produce a training plan, and by supporting training, including Modern Apprenticeships, as part of wider projects.)
 The publication by English Heritage at the Local Government Association Conference in June of a consultation document — Making the Most of our Civic Heritage — containing guiding principles for decision-makers
 The distribution by CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) of Our Street: Learning to See and From One Street to Another to every school in the UK.

The statement ended by saying that this list represented only the beginning of the process. DCMS and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are working closely with the heritage sector to take FfOF forward, and they will publish a full progress report in December. The full statement can be read on the Hansard website at:
www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/cm020724/text/20724w16.htm#20724w16.html_spnew12.

Theft of brasses

Recently three brasses have been stolen from West Country churches. On 5 July a plate from the 1441 brass to Elizabeth Walshe was taken from Langridge, Somerset. This consists of an effigy 37 5/8 ins by 13 ins showing a lady in widow’s weeds with a dog at her feet. Almost certainly on the same day, part of the 1439 brass to Edmund Forde was stolen from the neighbouring parish of Swainswick. The missing plate, 25 � ins by 6 � ins shows a man in civilian dress standing on a flowery mound.

On 5/6 July two plates depicting children were stolen from the 1501 brass to Robert Baynard at Lacock, Wiltshire. One shows a group of five daughters wearing pedimental head-dresses. The other shows a single male in civilian dress.

Further details of these brasses, including pictures are on the Monumental Brass Society website at www.mbs-brasses.co.uk/latest_news. If anyone has seen any of the missing plates since, please get in touch with the Monumental Brass Society, which is in contact with the two parishes. Email either the MBS Secretary at Martin.stuchfield@intercitygroup.co.uk or the MBS Website Editor at Suttonbadham@btinternet.com.

UK Government signs up to UNESCO convention on illicit trade in art and antiquit

The UK has formally signed up to an international agreement to protect cultural property, Arts Minister Baroness Blackstone announced on 1 August. The 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property gives members the right to recover stolen antiquities — primarily ancient and religious artefacts — which surface in the countries of fellow signatories.

Tessa Blackstone said: ‘By signing this agreement, we are sending a strong warning to those who do so much damage to the world’s cultural heritage that the UK is serious about joining the international effort to stamp out illicit trade in cultural objects. It will also help us claim back objects unlawfully removed from the UK.’

Accession to the Convention was recommended by an advisory panel set up by DCMS to look at the extent of such trade. The panel, led by Professor Norman Palmer, found that the British art market was worth around �4.5 billion in 1999 (making it the second largest art market in the world), of which the sale of antiquities generated �15m. The panel concluded that the market generally operates in an honourable way but that there was evidence of illicit activity: in 1999, some 132 cases were dealt with by London’s Interpol Unit and about thirty seizures of cultural goods were made by Customs and Excise.

Items stolen from the UK in the past include the Salisbury Hoard, a unique collection of more than 500 prehistoric artefacts that were stolen in 1985 by treasure hunters from a site near Salisbury. Two-thirds of the hoard has been recovered by the British Museum but a third is still dispersed in the trade.

In acceding to the Convention, the United Kingdom joins ninety-one other nations in their commitment to the proper treatment of works of art and antiquities across the world.

Greek sculpture stolen from the British Museum

Fellow Neil MacGregor, who has just taken over as Director of the British Museum, has promised an energetic review of security following the theft of a small but valuable sixth-century BC Greek marble head from the British Museum, apparently during opening hours. The head's plinth was discovered to be empty on 29 July. The Greek Archaic Gallery, where the theft took place, had no permanent guard on duty; instead, it was visited regularly by a member of staff patrolling several galleries at a time. Only some of the museum's hundreds of galleries are covered by CCTV. The head’s loss will be a severe embarrassment to the museum, which is under constant scrutiny for poor stewardship by campaigners for the return of the Elgin marbles.

BM to receive emergency grant

The Sunday Times reported on 4 August that the Government is planning to help resolve the British Museum’s cash crisis with a one-off emergency grant of �15 million. A Government source was quoted as confirming that DCMS will inject new funds. ‘We do believe in cash limits, but there are occasions when you cannot stick rigorously to these ideals,’ the source said. The precise value of the additional funds will be announced later this month. The same source suggested that the price for this support will be a revamp of the museum's governance.

Lost Buddhist metropolis in Afghanistan

The ruins of a previously unknown Buddhist city dating from the second century AD have been found in war-torn Afghanistan. UNESCO officials working in the region say that the 20-square-mile site will be reduced to rubble if it is not protected from looters who have already smuggled lorry-loads of artefacts from the disputed area into Pakistan, Iran and Russia. The site, called Kaffir Got (‘Fortress of the Infidels’), is buried under sand at a height of 12,000 feet in a remote pass near Ghazni, 100 miles south west of Kabul. It was probably built by the Gandharan civilization, and consists of numerous clay-brick buildings with domed roofs.

Fellow Robert Knox, head of the Oriental Department at the British Museum, has described the find as very significant. The BM is preparing to open its own exhibition — Discovering Ancient Afghanistan — next month, featuring antiquities collected by the nineteenth-century explorer, Charles Masson.

Grosvenor Museum acquires silver seal salver

Thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Chester’s Grosvenor Museum has been able to purchase a silver seal salver made for Sir John Willes, Chief Justice of the County Palatine of Chester between 1729 and 1734. Peter Boughton, FSA, Keeper of Art and Architecture at the museum, explained that this was a major addition to the museum’s nationally important collection of Chester-related silver. ‘This splendid piece of silver is very rare, since only one other Chester seal salver is known to survive. It is displayed with the matrices of the exchequer seal for the County Palatine of Chester, which were also purchased with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. These matrices were made by John Roos, as were those from which the salver was made, and this display clearly illustrates the transformation of seal matrices into seal salvers.’ Further information from Peter Boughton: p.boughton@chestercc.gov.uk.

Treasury silver to go to V&A

The Treasury has abandoned its attempts to sell an important collection of seventeenth-century silver, consisting of candlesticks, trays and wick trimmers, made for the Privy Council (the body of senior royal advisers which gradually lost power to the Cabinet system) during the reign of William and Mary. The Treasury was hoping that the collection would be purchased by a UK museum or gallery, but last week it announced that the historic pieces will be lent to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London instead.

The change of heart came about after a prolonged campaign by heritage and arts organizations against the sale of important relics of a crucial period in English constitutional history. Announcing the decision, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, a Treasury minister, said: ‘The Treasury has agreed to transfer the items concerned to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. That department will lend them to the Victoria and Albert Museum on condition that they are shared with appropriate regional institutions. The transfer will ensure that the items are available to public view for the first time in many years.’

New Head of Cathedral and Church Buildings Division

Paula Griffiths has been appointed as Head of the new Cathedral and Church Buildings Division that is being set up by the Church of England. The post involves being Secretary of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission (the position previously held by Fellow Richard Gem) and Secretary of the Council for the Care of Churches (the role previously carried out by Fellow Thomas Cocke), as well as trying to fulfil a wide-ranging policy role relating to the appropriate use of church buildings. Previously Paula was with English Heritage, and before that with the old DoE, working on policy for listed buildings, conservation areas and ancient monuments. Paula’s contact details are: tel: 0207 898 1887; email: paula.griffiths@c-of-e.org.uk.

A tale of two towers

As expected, the Deputy Prime Minister announced at the end of July that he had decided to approve the construction in London of the Heron Tower. In so doing the Deputy Prime Minister has backed the judgement of inspectors who presided over a public inquiry last November. One day later, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced its intention to call in the London Bridge Tower — a 1,000-foot tower designed by Renzo Piano, which has been dubbed the ‘shard of glass’.

Commenting on both decisions, Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Yesterday we lost the argument over the Heron Tower. Of course we are disappointed. However, the Inspector made it absolutely clear that each planning decision is taken on its merits and that in the future, decisions about London's skyline will continue to be made in the context of London's unique historic environment. That is why the Government has called in Renzo Piano's Tower at London Bridge — a structure that would destroy for ever some of the most famous views of London and create an inhuman environment around its already congested base.’

‘London's historic distinctiveness lies at the heart of its success’, he added. ‘We are not a fossil city like Paris but one that has grown by respecting the best of our past. Nor are we, nor should we be a New York, Tokyo or Frankfurt. We want London's developers to reinforce our distinction not to obliterate it. So we will continue to champion the historic buildings, areas and views that make London unique. Most Londoners support us in that.’

RSA tours

The RSA (The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is opening its London home to the public for tours on the first Sunday of every month. Known as ‘The House’, the RSA’s home in John Adam Street was designed specifically for the Society by Robert Adam in the 1770s. The building features both historical and contemporary architecture and conceals a series of interconnecting subterranean vaults. Further information by email from: . Those unable to visit London on a Sunday can take a virtual tour by visiting the RSA website at: www.thersa.org/house/panorama/index2.htm.

Wolves in Europe

Fellow John Nadris is campaigning for the return of wolves to the European Alps. In a letter to the Independent, he wrote: ‘The wolf is a remarkable animal who has a right to exist, and can enrich our impoverished experience. We drove the prehistoric aurochs, Bos primigenius, unthinkingly to extinction as recently as the seventeenth century and the loss is ours.’ To those who argue that sheep and wolves are incompatible, he says that ‘sheep losses have been reduced to an acceptable percentage’ by Romanian shepherds who, since Classical times, have bred Molossian hounds to protect flocks: in the Western Alps, the same is true of the white Pyrenean or Alpine mastiff.

Images of England controversy

Critics of the Images of England project are claiming a partial victory in their campaign to prevent English Heritage from creating a freely accessible photographic database of all 370,000 listed buildings in England. Stirred up by press reports that the database represents a ‘burglar’s charter’, more than 600 homeowners have contacted English Heritage to complain that the pictures could be ‘used by criminals to plan break-ins’. This is despite the fact that the pictures are being taken from public land, so that the image that appears on the internet will match the view that could be seen by any passer-by.

In response to owners’ concerns, English Heritage has agreed that they can opt to delay the publication of the information for at least ten years. Nigel Clubb, the Director of English Heritage's National Monuments Record in Swindon, which is organizing the Lottery-funded project, said that he had consulted the police and insurance companies and concluded that there was no extra risk of burglaries. He had, however, decided to bow to the concerns of homeowners by granting exemptions. ‘We have listened to homeowners and understood their concerns, even if it is only their perception of risk rather than a real risk,’ Mr Clubb said.

So far, 40,000 photographs have already been posted on the internet at
www.imagesofengland.org.uk.

PoW camp is given scheduled monument status

A World War II prisoner-of-war camp at Harperley, in Weardale, Co Durham, has been given Scheduled Monument status. Fifty structures (85 per cent of the camp) remain intact and largely untouched. They were in use from 1943 until 1948 to house 1,400 German prisoners. One hut served as a theatre with a stage, orchestra pit, prompt box and tiered seating for the audience. As well as forming a drama group and eleven-piece orchestra, the inmates produced their own newspaper Der Quell (‘The Source’) and cuttings from German magazines remain fixed to backstage walls. A canteen building displays fine wall paintings of typical German scenes.

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘The survival of Harperley is remarkable and extremely unusual. It has an important wartime story to tell and has enormous potential as an educational resource.’

For more information visit www.harperleypowshop.co.uk.

New dawn for Stonehenge

English Heritage Chairman Sir Neil Cossons promised ‘a new dawn’ for Stonehenge when he announced on 1 August that a �57m visitor centre would replace the existing facilities (famously described by MPs in 1989 as ‘a national disgrace’) by 2006. The new ‘gateway' to the Stonehenge landscape will be built just off the A303 at the Countess East roundabout, which is outside the World Heritage Site, out of sight of the stones and not on an archaeologically sensitive site. The reception building, designed by the Australian architectural firm of Denton Corker Marshall, will be partially buried below ground and will be roofed in turf so as to blend seamlessly into the landscape. Inside the building a range of interpretative exhibitions will tell the story of Stonehenge, its changing landscape and the people whose lives shaped its world.

Visitors will be able to travel to the site on foot, on hired bicycles or by environmentally friendly shuttle buses, with special buggies provided for the disabled. As part of the scheme, the area around the stones will be converted back to downland by 2008. The Government has set up a stewardship grant scheme, paying �160 an acre, to persuade arable farmers within the boundary of the 7,000-acre Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage site to restore ploughed land to grass.

Still undecided is the Government's plan for the A303, which runs past the monument. Four tunnel options are now being considered and the Government is expected to announce the result in January 2003.

Sex BC

Reviewers were hoping for something salacious from a Channel 4 programme entitled Sex BC. Instead they got Fellows Ian Hodder and Timothy Taylor discussing the possibility that the modern sexual mores of marriage and monogamy may have their origins at the point where hunter-gatherer societies evolved into pastoralists. More insights into ancient sex on Mondays 5 and 12 August, at 9pm.