Salon Archive

Issue: 261

Does anyone have Salon issues 1 to 13?

Salon will be ten years old in one month’s time, but in preparing the tenth anniversary issue, it has so far proved impossible to track down copies of the first thirteen issues, dating from the period from October 2001 to April 2002. If any Salon reader has retained those early issues in digital or hard copy form, the Society would be very grateful for copies. This will also help us fulfil the increasing number of requests from libraries and individuals for complete sets of Salon, as a record of ten years’ worth of heritage news and antiquarian endeavour.

Athens journal gateway

Did you know that Fellows can gain free online access to more than thirty-five of the archaeological, historical, and art and architecture journals to which the Library subscribes? All you have to do is to sign up to use the Athens gateway, which you can do by contacting Jo Carter, our Assistant Librarian, or by downloading the registration form that can be found on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website. Once registered you can access the journals from any computer.

Forthcoming meetings

The full meetings programme for this autumn can be seen on the Society’s website.

6 October 2011: ‘East of Lübeck: medieval monuments along the southern Baltic shores’, by Fr Jerome Bertram FSA

This paper will explore the iconography and epigraphy of monumental brasses and incised slabs in the countries east of the old Iron Curtain, along the Baltic coasts from Lübeck to Tallinn, including areas in the former Soviet Union that were closed to Western antiquaries for most of the twentieth century. Sepulchral monuments along this coastline consist mainly of flat incised monumental slabs, some with metal inlays, and a number of monumental brasses. Most slabs consist of inscription and heraldry or symbol only, but a significant number depict full-length figures. These sometimes closely imitate imported examples from Flanders, Nuremberg and London. There are very few effigies in the round, or low-relief effigies, in contrast to other areas of Europe. There is a recognisable ‘Baltic’ style, although there was more than one centre of manufacture.

13 October 2011: ‘The Society’s portrait of Queen Mary’, by Pamela Tudor-Craig FSA
The Society’s portrait of Queen Mary I, painted in 1554 by Hans Eworth, was the greatest purchase made by the Reverend Thomas Kerrich, and is now amongst our Society’s finest possessions. Pamela Tudor-Craig spoke briefly to the Fellowship in 2005 about its content, but there is much more to explore. As the first Queen Regnant for 400 years, her image was carefully and consciously worked out, apparently by herself, within the rapidly evolving and always revealing quasi-secular iconography of the Tudor court. The disfavour which darkened her memory accounts for the obscurity from which, in 1800, our most discerning collector rescued this wonderful picture.

20 October 2011: ‘Matthew Cotes Wyatt’s colossal equestrian statue of Wellington (1846) and Turner’s Hero of a Hundred Fights (1800—10, reworked and exhibited at the RA in 1847)’, by Jan Piggott FSA

27 October 2011: ‘Prior’s Hall, Widdington, Essex: an Anglo-Saxon secular building?’, by Nicola Smith FSA

Bid for beautiful objects and help educate tomorrow’s heritage experts

The Company of Arts Scholars, Dealers and Collectors is holding a fund-raising auction on Thursday 22 September at Sotheby’s, 34—35 New Bond Street, London W1, starting with a champagne reception from 6pm. Tickets are priced at £50 per head and all the money raised by the auction will be used to endow the Company’s Educational Charitable Fund, which provides financial aid to young people to enable them to study antiques, antiquities and the applied and decorative arts and thus acquire the skills and knowledge to become tomorrow’s experts and guardians of our heritage.

The Company has already established the annual Geoffrey Bond Travel Award, presented every year to enable a student to travel abroad in pursuit of their studies, and the West Dean College Award, for a student excelling in traditional crafts and skills; it is in the process of setting up two new training opportunities with the Tate Gallery, including conservation traineeships.

Our Fellow Peter Brooke, Baron Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, has donated one of the star prizes of the evening, a beautiful watercolour painting of Saltwood Castle, Kent, by an artist of the circle of Paul Sandby Munn (1773—1845), a work of such atmospheric quality that it has previously been attributed to Turner and to Thomas Hearne. This will be raffled (tickets cost £20), and the draw will be made by our Fellow Philippa Glanville, Master of the Company of Arts Scholars, Dealers and Collectors, at approximately 8.30pm.

Prior to that, thirty Silent Auction lots will be sold on the night using the i-Bid automatic bidding system and ten lots will be auctioned live on the night by Sotheby's European Chairman, Henry Wyndham. In addition, up to one hundred further lots will be sold by means of an e-Bay-style Internet Auction that goes live at noon on 12 September and closes at noon on 30 September 2011.

Among the tempting lots are an eighteenth-century creamware tankard, transfer printed with a harvest scene, a fine early eighteenth-century Chinese reverse mirror painting of two pheasants perched on a rocky outcrop, a rare early eighteenth-century German garnet, rose diamond and ruby brooch pendant, and any number of holidays in luxurious villas in exotic locations or behind-the-scenes tours of cultural institutions (not least a half-day tour for up to ten people of the treasures of our Society’s Library).

A link to the auction catalogue will be posted on the Company’s website from 12 September, but anyone who would like details in the interim or who would like to buy tickets should contact the Company's Clerk, Georgina Gough.

The National Planning Framework: the public responds

The last issue of Salon was published shortly after the Government’s draft National Planning Framework had been released for consultation, before most organisations had had time to respond. Three weeks later, Salon can now present an overview of the reaction, and the consensus seems to be that the Government is wrongly acting as an advocate for the development sector, has misdiagnosed the reasons for the housing shortage in this country, blaming the planning system rather than wider economic factors, and is not listening to the legitimate concerns of the heritage sector.

In his keenness to promote the core message of the draft National Planning Framework — that the negative consequences of development are outweighed by the economic benefits — the Planning Minister, Greg Clark, accused the National Trust of ‘misrepresenting the proposed changes’ for reasons that are ‘risible’ (some newspapers translated this for the benefit of readers as ‘laughable’); he claimed, in a Radio 4 interview, that his opponents were guilty of ‘nihilistic selfishness’, and of wanting to ‘preserve [their towns] in aspic’ (yes, he really did fall back on that stalest of politician’s clichés).

Greg Clark’s colleague at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Bob Neil, added some further colourful language to the debate when he claimed that opposition to the planning framework was a ‘carefully choreographed smear campaign by left-wingers based in the national headquarters of pressure groups’. Government ministers also sought to play to the gallery by portraying this as a housing issue and promising that a loosening of planning constraints would help solve the current deficit of 150,000 homes a year that the Home Builders Federation claims are needed to keep pace with England’s growing population: well-designed affordable homes for all in the town or village of your choice, was the somewhat unrealistic carrot being held out by Greg Clark and Business Secretary, Vince Cable, as a reward for a planning free for all.

In reality, the opposition to the new planning guidelines has come from every quarter. The Daily Telegraph, a useful barometer of Conservative thinking, began by supporting the framework as a long overdue reform of a bureaucratic system, but the newspaper quickly changed its tune when a flood of letters from readers showed that there was widespread concern about the proposals: some readers pointed to the evidence from Ireland, Portugal and Greece that a relaxation of planning laws had done nothing to kick-start their economies; others argued that developers would simply cherry pick the best greenfield sites, and that they made their money from building ‘executive’ homes rather than so-called ‘affordable’ homes.

Readers wrote en masse with details of controversial planning proposals that will see East Coker, in Somerset, turned into a suburb of Yeovil, Laurie Lee’s Slad Valley, in Gloucestershire, Whalley, in Lancashire’s rural Ribble Valley, and Sudbury, in Suffolk swamped by housing, and green belt around Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, Durham, south Cambridgeshire and Aintree, Crosby, Formby and Southport in Merseyside all developed for houses, business parks and hotels. Others cited plans for Lydd airport’s proposed expansion in the marshlands of Kent and the impact on small traders of competition between three major supermarkets vying for trade along a short stretch of High Street in Alderley Edge, in Cheshire. Many have also highlighted the problems posed by a potential escalation in the number of wind farms, with all their associated groundworks, access roads and pylons.

In response to such widespread concern among its readers, the Telegraph has performed a U-turn and is no longer promoting the framework. Instead, it has set up a ‘Hands off Our Land’ campaign, calling on ministers to think again about the Government’s ‘rush to sweep aside planning laws [that] will put the countryside in peril’ and turn England into ‘one big building site’ and that ‘slant the rules in favour of developers’, pointing out that successful economies such as Germany have strict planning laws, and calling for ‘a reasoned debate’.

Similar criticism has come from the Financial Times, which has called on the Government to define much more precisely what it means by ‘a presumption in favour of sustainable development’, and to explain how it will distinguish between bog-standard development and the new sustainable variety. Country Life, another Conservative bastion, took the view that a policy that denied local people the right to have a say on development was at odds with the Government’s ‘Big Society’ and ‘Localism’ agendas.

The National Trust has maintained a dignified position throughout; the reasons for its opposition to the planning framework were summed up by Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, who said: ‘The National Trust believes in growth, as we all do — but not at any cost. Development that works must pass a triple bottom-line test — by showing that it meets the needs of people and the environment, as well as the economy’.

The Trust’s position, shared by the CPRE (Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England), the Woodland Trust and a coalition of some thirty other conservation and environmental bodies opposed to a more permissive planning framework, is that there is no shortage of brownfield (previously developed) building land, and that the reason for the housing shortfall lies with the lack of liquidity in the mortgage market combined with lack of consumer confidence in jobs and the economy.

Figures taken from various sources, including the annual reports of the UK’s eleven largest housing developers, show that they already own undeveloped ‘land banks’ equivalent to 335,731 homes, that there are 160,000 acres of brownfield land available for development, enough for more than three million new homes, and that there are nearly 740,000 empty homes in this country, a quarter of them in London and the south east. According to data in the Planning Framework impact assessment report, most development proposals are already being approved: 87 per cent of all planning applications were passed in 2009—10, and of those that were turned down but then went to appeal, 80 per cent were subsequently approved.

Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, spoke up for the existing system by saying that England’s planning laws were ‘not the world’s tightest’, but that they were effective ‘in stopping planning chaos’ on a ‘small island with a growing population and a lot of competition for land’. She said it is a ‘myth that the planning system is responsible for everything from the cost of your mortgage to the high level of office rents, and holds back development’. Griff Rhys Jones, President of Civic Voice, said that it was perfectly justifiable to challenge the ‘infuriating notion that businesses, housebuilders and chain stores are the only stakeholders in our towns and villages’, while Bill Bryson, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said ‘we are deeply worried to learn that environmental laws are regarded as red tape’.

STOP PRESS: On the ‘Today’ programme on 3 September 2011, Greg Clark tried to present the arguments as an issue of ‘whether or not to build’, as if opponents of the draft Framework were opposed to all forms of development — rather than the wrong kind in the wrong place. Challenged by John Humphrys to explain why the Government was bothering with a public consultation, if their feedback was going to be ignored, Greg Clark sounded conciliatory: ‘let’s be forensic about this’, he said; ‘let’s look at the detail. If there are particular aspects, particular sentences that you don't think express clearly enough the protections that are there, then let’s talk about them.’

English Heritage issued a statement over the weekend indicating one area in which it thinks the wording was weak and unclear. The way the new framework is currently worded, moderate or minor harm to heritage assets, such as listed buildings, will be allowed. Only ‘substantial harm or loss’ will need to be justified and mitigated. ‘Cumulatively this could have a devastating effect on our nationally important buildings and sites’, EH says, adding that ‘most planning decisions will affect designated sites and buildings fall into these [moderate or minor harm] categories’.

IfA responds formally to the draft National Planning Policy Framework for England

The Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) has added its voice to those calling for a rethink of the draft National Planning Policy Framework for England. Submitting its formal response to the public consultation, Tim Howard, IfA Policy Adviser, said: ‘We have a number of serious concerns about the current wording of the draft, which we think would result in a weakening of protection for the historic environment, and could lead to sites and buildings of archaeological interest being destroyed without adequate investigation, analysis and dissemination.

‘Improvements we are seeking include greater recognition of the positive role played by the historic environment and the public benefits that it brings; strong policies placing the management and protection of the historic environment at the heart of “sustainable development” rather than subordinate to it; clearer policies, in particular, dealing with neighbourhood planning and with undesignated heritage assets and minor harm to designated assets; greater clarity as to the need for expert advice and the role of accredited experts acting in accordance with professional standards.’

The full text of the IfA’s response can be downloaded from the Institute’s website.

Plea to oppose faculty application for the disposal of two Trafalgar flags

Another cause of considerable concern to Fellows is the increasing number of Church of England parishes seeking to sell their cultural treasures. The most recent example is the application made by St Mary the Virgin, Selling, in Kent (located some four miles south east of Faversham), for a faculty allowing it to ‘dispose of two flags’.

The flags in question are rather important survivals from the Battle of Trafalgar that have been in Selling village since at least 1828. They were acquired by Stephen Hilton, a young master’s mate who served on HMS Minatour, at the Battle of Trafalgar. One is a Union Flag flown from HMS Minatour itself, while the other one (depicted) is traditionally held to have been flown by a Spanish ship, the Neptuno.

Hilton was one of three brothers who served at Trafalgar. Born in Selling, he retired from the Royal Navy in about 1828 to what became known as Trafalgar House, Selling, where he died in 1872. Some sixty years later, in 1930, the flags were presented to the church by members of the Hilton family who also obtained a faculty to refurnish the south transept as a Hilton Chapel, ‘with holy table, cross, candlesticks, curtains, kneelers, rails and chairs’ and memorials to various members of the family in the form of wall tablets and stained glass. There the flags hung until 1994, when they were taken down and sent to a textile restorer where they are believed to remain to this day.

Our Fellow John Owen says that the sale faculty should be opposed for a number of reasons. The flags are an integral and original part of the Hilton Chapel and just as much integral to the furnishing as the fittings, the monuments and the stained-glass memorial windows. The flags are part of the continuity of three centuries’ connection of the Hilton family with this area of the church, and their removal materially affects the character of the chapel and the listed church of which it is part. The Hilton family, who gave and have protected the flags, oppose their disposal. Selling PCC has produced no reason for disposing of them, no report on their condition, no ‘Statement of Significance’, no ‘Statement of Needs’ to explain why it is considered necessary to dispose of the flags. Selling Church has the space in which to reinstate them and they are physically capable of being restored and conserved in situ.

Campaigners seeking to prevent their sale are asking those who share their concerns to write setting out their objections by 15 September 2011 to The Registrar, Minerva House, 5 Montague Close, London SE1 9BB, citing ‘Ref. 2062’.

Give your views on The National Archives

Our Fellow Grace Ioppolo has been appointed an academic representative on the new User Advisory Group of The National Archives, Kew, and welcomes comments, suggestions and recommendations from Fellows on how to improve users’ experiences at TNA.

Appeal for help with the Udal Project

Our Fellow Beverley Ballin Smith is the lead researcher and archaeologist for the revived Udal Project, and she is hoping to trace specialists and researchers who worked on Udal material and who may have long given up hoping of ever seeing their work in print. She would also like to be contacted by people who worked at or visited the site and who have stories of their experiences there. Beverley is also very keen to trace missing finds and samples from the 1980s and 1990s that are probably still housed in academic institutions up and down the country. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Udal material (especially all human remains, some animal bone, fish bone, pottery and stone and lithic artefacts) are invited to contact Beverley.

Iain Crawford’s excavation of the Udal site, on the North Uist machair of the Western Isles, between 1963 and 1996 was one of the longest and largest archaeological campaigns ever undertaken in Scotland. The site produced an unbroken record of some 5,000 years of settlement and approximately 40 cubic metres of finds and samples. However, a full account of the excavations and its artefacts has never been produced. In the light of this, a detailed assessment of the archives is currently being funded by Historic Scotland and the Western Isles Council until the end of March 2012, with additional help from the Hunter Trust and the RCAHMS. This initial post-excavation year will concentrate on the potential the archives have for future research and publication.

‘Ian was a polymath embracing interests in Scottish history, archaeology, ethnography, dating techniques, the environment, climate, and the geomorphology of the machair’, says Beverley. ‘His multi-dimensional approach to the excavations was revolutionary at the time and one that has affected the course of Scottish and British archaeology. The wealth and variety of finds, from the Neolithic to the eighteenth century, as well as Crawford’s innovatory techniques of excavation recording, sampling and finds retrieval, make this one of the UK’s great excavations, best known for putting the Viking and Norse occupation of Northern Britain into the spotlight.’ Beverley adds that the Udal excavation will feature in the BBC programme, ‘Digging for Britain: The Vikings’, to be broadcast in the new series of ‘Digging for Britain’ that begins on 9 September 2011.

Burial cairn overlies stone circle at Preseli bluestone quarry site

Another of the projects that will feature in the new ‘Digging for Britain’ series is the excavation by our Fellows Geoff Wainwright and Tim Darvill of a large burial cairn at Carn Menyn, in the Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire, the source of the Stonehenge bluestones. Excavating the cairn during July this year, the team found that the stone mound with its central burial was erected on top of an earlier bluestone circle, turning the space ‘from a public ceremonial space defined by the stone circle into the burial spot of a very important person’, Geoff told the BBC. There has been much press speculation to the effect that the person buried there was one of the architects of Stonehenge, an idea that Geoff described as ‘a hypothesis but it could well be true. There is certainly something very significant about the grave’. He also said he would be surprised if the circle had not been created at about the same time that the bluestones were taken to Stonehenge.

A Roman port on the banks of the Usk

Also in the news was the Cardiff University excavation led by Fellow Peter Guest of the remains of a large Roman harbour on the River Usk, outside the Roman fortress at Caerleon, near Newport in south Wales. The excavation has revealed the well-preserved remains of the main quay wall, landing stages and wharves. Peter Guest said the port was a ‘major addition to the archaeology of Roman Britain and one that allows us to envisage the fort at Caerleon in its landscape, connected upstream with the hillier parts of Wales and the Roman forts at Abergavenny and Brecon, and downstream to Roman London as well as to the Loire Valley, the Bay of Biscay and beyond to the Mediterranean and the heart of the Roman world.’

The port is only the second Romano-British port to be discovered and excavated, after London. Peter said that he believed the port was constructed at a time when Roman legions were ‘fighting and subduing the native tribes in western Britain’. Mark Lewis, of the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, said the fortress was of great significance in the Roman world because ‘at any one time in the Roman Empire, there are about thirty legions and one of those was permanently based here’, which perhaps explains the scale of the port and the other buildings discovered during last year’s geophysical survey, which together form one of the largest complexes of Roman buildings in Britain.

Pictures and daily site reports can be read on the Caerleon’s ‘Lost City’ blog on the CBA’s website.

Roman amphitheatre found near Yorkshire village of Aldborough

In Yorkshire, a Roman amphitheatre has been found using geomagnetic survey equipment by Rose Ferraby, a local girl seeking the truth behind her grandfather’s story that a lost amphitheatre lay beneath the summit of Studforth Hill, just outside the village of Aldborough between Harrogate and York.

Rose was part of a team of Cambridge University archaeologists who have spent two years scanning an area of more than one square mile in extent to learn more about the village of Aldborough, which was once the site of Isurium Brigantum, a walled Roman town founded in the second century AD as an urban centre for the Brigantes, the people who occupied the area from Derbyshire up to Hadrian’s Wall. According to our Fellow Martin Millett, the find adds to growing evidence that Britannia Inferior, as this part of northern England was known from the third century, was busier, more prosperous and more Romanised than previously thought. ‘York is much better known for Roman remains, in part because it has remained a great city, but the evidence suggests that it was the military base. Civil power and society, and the most important place for Roman Britons in the northern province, was likely to have been here’, he told the The Guardian.

Rose told the newspaper that ‘I used to come to Studforth Hill as a girl with my friends because the slope and terracing made it Aldborough’s sledging hill’. From Harrogate’s comprehensive school, she studied archaeology at Cambridge and the British School in Rome before turning her attention back to the village where she grew up, finding Roman remains in the garden of the manor house where she did odd jobs as a girl. ‘Work over the years has pointed more and more towards the conclusion that it was somewhere very important in this part of the Roman empire. Mosaics have been discovered with inscriptions in Greek, a sure sign of cultured inhabitants’, she said.

At a packed village meeting called to announce the discovery, Rose told local residents that most of the tiered seats from the amphitheatre were quarried or hacked out centuries ago, but that a section survives under the high bank crowning Studforth Hill. ‘We don't yet know whether the seats are stone, which would have been the best quality, or a mixture of timber and compacted earth which has been found at other sites in the UK’, Ferraby said, ‘but there are at least four rows and an extra ridge of land behind the trees suggests that there may have been a fifth. Whatever the material, it would have been an imposing building.’

Fellow identifies windows admired by Van Gogh

Stained-glass windows that Van Gogh admired have been located by our Fellow Max Donnelly, who tracked them down to St Andrew’s Church in Owslebury, near Winchester in Hampshire. Van Gogh saw the designs while visiting the studio of stained-glass makers Cottier & Company in London in 1876. He wrote to his brother: ‘I saw sketches for two church windows. In the middle of one of the windows the portrait of an elderly lady, such a noble face, with the words “Thy will be done” inscribed above; in the other window the portrait of her daughter, with the words “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.’

Writing about the glass in the Burlington Magazine, Max says that he saw pictures of the windows at St Andrew’s while researching the stained glass of Daniel Cottier at about the same time as the exhibition of Van Gogh’s letters at the Royal Academy; ‘it was then that bells started ringing’. The windows were commissioned by William Carnegie, 8th Earl of Northesk, as a memorial to his daughter, Lady Margaret Carnegie (depicted), and his wife Georgina, Countess of Northesk, who are depicted as the young Virgin and an older Virgin respectively.

Contacting the earl’s descendants, Max was shown family photographs of the people involved and of the sketches for the glass, which Van Gogh must have seen when he was twenty-three years of age, living in Isleworth, west London, and teaching at the school of the Congregationalist minister, the Reverend Thomas Slade-Jones. ‘They are punchy and quirky and he’d have liked them for a number of reasons’, Donnelly says.

Picturing History: portraits of early kings and queens

Rare portraits of early English monarchs are currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery (until 4 December 2011). The sixteen portraits were purchased by the National Portrait Gallery from the collection of the Duke of Leeds in 1974 and are normally on display at Montacute House. They have recently been subject to a battery of scientific tests as part of the Gallery’s ‘Making Art in Tudor Britain’ research project, designed to find out more about the practices of artists’ workshops in the late sixteenth century, when such sets of portraits of monarchs were popular.

Dendrochronology has revealed that the wood used for all sixteen portraits was felled at around the same date, probably in the 1590s, making it likely that they were painted as a set, depicting monarchs from William the Conqueror to Mary I. There are similarities in the way in which some of the designs have been transferred onto the panels and the fact that several are painted on wood from the same trees, though several artists seem to have been involved, some with a distinctive style (for example, the crooked eyes in the portraits of Henry I, Stephen, Edward II and John suggest the same artist painted all four).

For Fellows, there is the added interest that the portrait group has many similarities with the twenty-two early portraits, mostly of English and European monarchs and princes, bequeathed to the Society by the Revd Thomas Kerrich in 1827. Our Fellow Bernard Nurse says that Fellows were active at the time ‘in trying to separate out authentic likenesses from fanciful portraits, by comparing painted portraits with other evidence, such as seals and tomb effigies, and by studying documentary sources, such as inventories. By this means, Fellows played a key role in stamping the now-familiar images of the early Tudors on the nation’s consciousness.’

Our Fellow Tarnya Cooper, Curator of Sixteenth-century Collections at the National Portrait Gallery, says that portraits such as these were often rapidly and cheaply produced based on patterns derived from woodcuts and engravings. The lack of surviving portraits taken from life for the early kings meant that the same template might even be used for several different kings. In the case of the Montacute set, ‘the features of some of the kings are entirely imaginary, while others are based on existing portraits. The whole set shown together is extremely striking, and in the late 1500s it would have provided an entertaining visual chronology of the English monarchy for audiences who were already used to seeing such characters on the stage in plays by Shakespeare and Marlowe.’

Picture: William I (‘The Conqueror’) by unknown artist, 1590—1610 (NPG 4980 (1))

Feedback

Salon 260’s report on the Roman fort excavations at Maryport, run by Fellows Tony Wilmott and Ian Haynes during July and August 2011, contained an omission and an error. Salon omitted to mention that the excavations were initiated by the Senhouse Museum Trust, the private body that runs the Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport, and funded by the museum and Newcastle University. Fellow David Breeze, a Senhouse Museum trustee, says ‘the aim of this research investigation was to improve our understanding of the collections on display in the museum, hence the examination of the area where the altars were found in 1870’.

The error was to suggest that this was a rescue excavation in advance of the construction of a new museum by the Senhouse Museum Trust. In fact, it is Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd that is planning a new museum for the Roman collections at Maryport, and this will be built on a separate site. Hadrian’s Wall Heritage also owns Camp Farm, the site on which the Maryport fort and civil settlement sit, and, as landowner, gave its permission for the excavation.

Another omission in Salon 260 was the failure to mention that the Society, through one of its Fellows, played an important part in the return of the Jacobean effigy of Dr Peter Turner (depicted), the eminent seventeenth-century botanist and physician, to St Olave’s Church, near the Tower of London, from where it had been stolen during the Blitz. The bust of Dr Turner, author of the first herbal to be published in English, was only returned after a protracted dispute during which lawyers working for the Art Loss Register, including our Fellow Norman Palmer, waived their fees in order to take up the church’s cause and to negotiate the bust’s return to its proper home after an absence of seventy years.

Reporting on the letter published last month in The Times highlighting the threat to historic building fabric posed by the Government’s Green Deal initiative, Salon listed David Heath, Chairman of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, as being one of the Fellows who signed the letter: David writes to point out the error and says ‘honesty compels me to say that I am not a Fellow’.

Warwick Rodwell’s appeal for help with the inscription on the coffin of Major Peirson in St Helier Church, Jersey, was quickly solved after Salon was distributed on 15 August 2011 in a quickfire exchange of emails. Fellow Richard Coates suggested that the last word might be uvae (‘of the grape’); Salon’s editor thought ‘grapes probably means Virgil’s Georgics’, did a quick online search and there it was: veniunt felicius uvae (‘by good fortune grapes come forth’: Book 1, line 54). Richard Coates suggests that this is a way of saying ‘Unto every thing there is a season’, or ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’, and Warwick agrees, though he will carry out further research to see whether this is a family or regimental motto, or whether it is a comment on Peirson’s heroism in opposing the 900-strong French army that invaded the island on 6 January 1781.

We have not had the same success in identifying an artist or provenance for the angels rescued from another Blitzed London church that Fellow Diarmaid MacCulloch asked Salon readers to identify, though Fellow Hugh Harrison perhaps takes us closer to their intended purpose in suggesting that they might be figures from a reredos, but — as they seem to be singing — it is more likely that they served as tower decorations on an organ case or choir gallery.

News of Fellows

Our Fellow Peter Draper is one of five new English Heritage Commissioners whose appointment for four years, beginning on 1 September 2011, has just been announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Peter is Visiting Professor in the School of History of Art, Film and Visual Media, at Birkbeck College, was formerly the Conway Librarian at the Courtauld Institute of Art and is a Vice-President (and past President) of the British Archaeological Association. He served as Chairman of the Fabric Advisory Committee at Southwark Cathedral from 1995 to 2009, President of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain from 2000 to 2004 and as a Member of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England from 2001 to 2010.

The other four new Commissioners are Baroness (Lola) Young, formerly Professor of Cultural Studies at Middlesex University and currently a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, Sir Tim Laurence, former Chief Executive, Defence Estates, Martin Moore, former Chief Executive of Prudential Property Investment Managers Ltd, and Graham Morrison, a partner in Allies and Morrison Architects, one of the ten largest architectural practices in the UK.

Fellow Andrew Fitzpatrick, Head of Communications at Wessex Archaeology, tells Salon that ‘the University of Leicester has conferred on me the title and status of Visiting Professor in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History’.

Lives Remembered: Mark Blackburn

Just as Salon was being put to bed last night, the sad news arrived of the death of our Fellow Mark Blackburn, Keeper of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum since 1991, who died peacefully at his home in Cambridge after a long battle with cancer on 1 September. Mark was one of this country's leading numismatists -- indeed, the last issue of Salon was able to announce that the British Academy has awarded this year's Derek Allen Prize to Dr Blackburn for his outstanding contributions to coin studies.

Mark's funeral will take placer at 2pm on 12 September 2011 at St Andrew's Church, Chesterton, near Cambridge. It is likely there will be a memorial service at a later date.

Lives Remembered: Colin John Kirkaldy Cunningham

Our Fellow Chris Pickford writes with the sad news that our Fellow Colin Cunningham died peacefully at home after a short illness on 4 August 2011, at the age of sixty-nine.

A full list of Colin’s achievements would fill many pages. After an early career in teaching, he joined the Open University in 1974, three years after the OU enrolled its first students, where he served successively as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Architectural History at the Open University, then Head of Art History from 1994, and Senior Visiting Research Fellow from 1999. His OU career included making many memorable BBC broadcasts on Victorian buildings and architects whose merits were only just beginning to be appreciated, including the Albert Memorial, Manchester Town Hall, Cragside and neo-Gothic in India. In 1989 he was the winner of the Council for British Archaeology award for the best educational television programme on an archaeological subject for ‘The Acropolis Now’, while his monograph, Alfred Waterhouse 1830—1905: Biography of a Practice (written jointly with Prudence Waterhouse), won the 1994 Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion from the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

Colin was to become the Chairman of that same Society in 1994, and in 2007 he became the Chairman of the Victorian Society, for whom he organised many events and visits, and for whom he wrote numerous papers, including, most recently, ‘From Eaton Hall to Tyntesfield: changing attitudes to the Victorian country house’ in Victorians Revalued, a volume assessing the changes in attitude towards buildings of the period since the formation of the Victorian Society in 1958.

Lives Remembered: John Graham Rhodes

Many Fellows were among the mourners from the museums, archaeology and conservation world who packed St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, on 30 August for the funeral of our Fellow John Graham Rhodes, who died suddenly on 13 August 2011.

Our Fellow the Revd Martin Henig conducted the funeral (his first) and delivered a short address in which he said that ‘John’s achievements in the public sphere were formidable, arising from a lively interest in the past and engagement with its physical remains. He was fascinated by the history of collecting and collectors from the time of John Bargrave, a seventeenth-century Canon of Canterbury, onwards and he ensured that the museums he helped to organise were not only enthralling displays to visit, but models of education and scholarship.

‘They included not only the Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock and Banbury Museum but Cogges near Witney. Here, assisted by his friend [Fellow] John Steane, he was instrumental in turning a run-down farm into an amazing display of rural life which has continued to enchant visitors ever since. At Reading Museum John redisplayed the large collection of Roman artefacts from Silchester in a manner that makes it still the finest local museum in which to understand life in Roman Britain.

‘The list of John’s highly successful conservation projects on buildings is truly prodigious and includes Oxford Castle, Shaw House and Chichester Cathedral and (with Oxford Archaeology, where he was working until the very day of his death) Audley End, Orford Castle, Framlingham, Gainsborough Hall, Tattershall Castle, Knowle, Deal Castle and Osborne House. It reads like a role of honour: all English history is there and the work he did will live on to help subsequent generations to understand the past.’

Our Fellow George Speake has contributed the following summary of John Rhodes’s career. ‘John studied Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford, from 1963 to 1966. After a short spell as a schoolmaster in Yarm, Yorkshire, he returned to Oxford where he studied under Professor Christopher Hawkes (1968—9), gaining a starred Diploma in European Archaeology. The opportunity for further postgraduate study was side-tracked when he was appointed as a Museum Assistant to Bernard Fagg, at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. The three years he spent here undoubtedly laid the foundations for John’s many professional talents and skills, both curatorial and as a designer of exhibitions and museum displays.

‘In 1972 he was appointed Keeper of Antiquities with Oxfordshire Museum Services. Initially at the splendid museum in Woodstock and then elsewhere, at Banbury, Wantage and Abingdon, John oversaw the innovative and groundbreaking re-display of the county’s antiquities and history. In 1988, John was appointed Director of Reading Museum and Art Gallery, a post he filled with distinction until his premature retirement in 1994. From 1994 he worked as a consultant specialising in museum development schemes, exhibition planning, historic building studies and conservation planning. On the afternoon prior to his death he had just completed a report for English Heritage on Osborne House, Isle of Wight, co-authored with our Fellow Julian Munby. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him, his many friends and museum colleagues.’

Lives remembered: David Henry Hill

The following obituary for our late Fellow David Hill was published in The Times on 28 August 2011.

‘David Hill was a distinguished archaeologist and one of a now fast-disappearing band of scholars who spent the best part of their working lives teaching, mentoring, training, inspiring and collaborating with members of the public who joined classes in search of a new interest in their lives, a new stimulus, new friends and new directions. His success can be measured by the number of his students who went on to take higher degrees, publish their own archaeological research, write books, engage in experimental archaeology and/or become regular participants at the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies conferences, which were sustained by their enthusiasm for over a quarter of a century.

‘Hill also made a major contribution to the study of Anglo-Saxon England, which was always his first love, through the remarkable and extraordinarily scholarly Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England (1981), his long-running research project on Offa’s Dyke — where much of the fieldwork training for his Extra-Mural Certificate students occurred — his work on Anglo-Saxon and contemporary continental towns and trading places, his seminal study of the Burghal Hidage — a problematic text dating from early in the tenth century — and, particularly later in life, his insights into the processes and mechanics of early medieval agriculture and land use. His work was published in a series of articles, the monograph Offa’s Dyke: History and Guide, with Margaret Worthington (2003), and a string of edited volumes.

‘David Henry Hill was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, in 1937, and came comparatively late to archaeology, as a mature student. He was brought up in Watchet, Somerset, and on leaving school became a surveyor’s apprentice with Minehead Urban District Council. From there he moved to a post with Gloucestershire County Council. Hill never felt fulfilled in his career as a local government surveyor and eventually gained a place at teacher training college in Exeter, going on to teach history in Hemel Hempstead. But it was his decision to join the Royal Archaeological Society that began the process that changed his life, for the archaeologist Martin Biddle discovered that he had surveying skills and recruited him to work on his Winchester excavations.

‘Once there, the love affair with Anglo-Saxon archaeology which was to dominate the rest of his life, began. Fired by the experience, he went to Southampton University to take his doctorate on Anglo-Saxon fortified towns (“Burhs”), and with that under his belt he gained the new post of staff tutor in archaeology in the University of Manchester’s Department of Extra-Mural Studies. There he rapidly developed a wide range of archaeological courses, generating a rich menu of lecture courses, day schools, field visits and the three-year certificate programmes, managing a team of tutors but concentrating himself on the extraordinarily popular “Methods in Archaeology” certificate programme.

‘In the 1970s, archaeology began to capture the public imagination and a steady stream of people passed through his programmes. It was the lack of Anglo-Saxon archaeology in the immediate vicinity that encouraged Hill to set up the Offa’s Dyke project, which ran entirely with student and volunteer participants refining their archaeological skills through excavation and survey on Britain’s largest linear monument, which had been badly neglected to that point.

‘With the closure of the University of Manchester’s extra-mural education department in the 1990s following funding cuts, Hill moved to the Department of English, where other Anglo-Saxonists were concentrated, and found a new role teaching undergraduate students. His two daughters often joined him on digs but he was devastated when his wife Ann died of cancer in 2003 after forty years of marriage. By this time he had diabetes which first took its toll on his eyesight and, increasingly, his mobility. He was not happy living alone, but needed to be close to his university colleagues so that he could continue his research and find some purpose, but was ever more dependent on friends and former students to sustain him and give him mobility.

‘His greatest aide was Margaret Worthington, whom he had first met in the 1970s when training as a teacher in Manchester. She took the Certificate in Methods in Archaeology and later worked alongside him as research assistant, tutor, co-author and friend. In 2010, their close collaboration and friendship led to marriage. They moved to Margaret’s home near Oswestry, in the heart of the Offa’s Dyke landscape of which they had done so much to further knowledge. His health seemed to improve and his death, four days after a birthday tea at Tatton Park, was unexpected, despite his long struggle with diabetes. He will be remembered fondly by many people, whose lives he enriched and whose minds he engaged and his work will live on. He is survived by Margaret Worthington and by his two daughters from his first marriage.’

Fellow Linda Hall adds a personal reminiscence: ‘I was surprised and saddened to read of the death of David Hill. He was indeed an unforgettable character and will be sadly missed. He was one of the first people I got to know as a new archaeology undergraduate at Southampton in 1970 — indeed, you could hardly miss him, with his shock of curly hair, his glasses and his duffel coat (I seem to remember several of us sporting these useful items of clothing, blessed with large pockets to hold pens, notebooks, tape measures, etc, and with thick hoods to keep out the cold and rain!). We were indeed introduced to the Burghal Hidage from day one, and I still have a signed copy of one of the reports on Saxon Southampton which David gave me as thanks for translating a small portion of Latin which, inevitably, related to the Burghal Hidage! He was also hugely memorable for walking round for a whole term, if not longer, with one of his glasses badly cracked as he couldn’t be bothered to go and get them repaired! A great character, who imparted his love of the subject to everyone he met.’

Events

5 October 2011: Art Fund Talks Desmond Shaw-Taylor, Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, kicks off this series of talks exploring the image of the British monarchy from the Gothic period through to the present day, to be held at the Society of Antiquaries at 2.30pm, with a paper on ‘Van Dyck and Charles I’. Desmond will consider how the collecting of Old Masters and the patronage of living artists by Charles I combined to produce some of the Royal Collection’s greatest works of art. Later in the series, on 7 November at 2.30pm, our Fellow Karen Hearn will talk about ‘Portraits of a Boy King: Edward VI (1537—53)’ as evidence of immense contemporary interest in Henry VIII’s long-awaited male heir, examining some of the most important images of Edward, and considering the contexts in which they are likely to have been produced. Further information on the lecture series can be found on the Art Fund’s website.

17 October 2011: ‘Metal objects: how they were made and decorated’, a joint conference organised by the Roman Finds Group, the Finds Research Group 700—1700, the Historical Metallurgy Society and York Archaeological Trust, to be held at The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, York YO1 9XD, from 9.45am to 5.15pm, with optional site visits on the preceding day. Speakers include Fellows Susan La Niece on Anglo-Saxon jewellery, Hazel Forsyth on the Cheapside Hoard, Sonia O’Connor on iron mail and Justine Bayley on mould technology in Roman and post-Roman Britain. For further details, see the Historical Metallurgy Society website.

19 October 2011: ‘Viking Slavery’, by Professor Stefan Brink, 5.30pm at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, the first in the 2011/12 Institute of Archaeology/British Museum medieval seminar series. Details of the other papers in the series can be found on the Institute’s website.

9 June 2012: The Friends of the Congregational Library will host a symposium at Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR, to mark the 350th Anniversary of the Great Ejectment of 1662 a formative event in the history of English and Welsh religious dissent when more than 2,000 clergymen were expelled from the Church of England for refusing to take the oath required of them under the Act of Uniformity, agreeing to adhere to the forms of public prayers, administration of sacraments and other rites, ceremonies and doctrines prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. Papers will be given by Professor J Gwynfor Jones (Cardiff), Dr David Appleby (Nottingham), Dr Eryn M White (Aberystwyth) and by our Fellow Professor Alan P F Sell. Further details will be posted on the Friends’ website in due course.

Books by Fellows: Vauxhall Gardens — A History

Many of us will have first encountered Vauxhall Gardens through the medium of Thackeray’s masterpiece, Vanity Fair (1847—8), though by the time Thackeray wrote his satirical account of this extraordinary Bacchanalian funfair, music hall, circus, tavern, restaurant and brothel it was just a decade away from closure, after nearly 200 years as an integral part of the London scene. The two centuries during which Vauxhall Gardens flourished (from 1661 to 1859) have been captured in vivid and comprehensive detail by our Fellows David Coke and Alan Borg in a book that is as entertaining as the gardens themselves: Vauxhall Gardens — A History (ISBN 9780300173826; Yale).

Is there any picture of Vauxhall, any object, plan or literary citation that the authors have not uncovered and brought into this book? And yet they have organised their material in such a way that a driving narrative emerges, in which Vauxhall Gardens stands as a microcosm of London life in all its variety and in its highest and lowest forms. Take music, for example: one evening’s musical entertainment (on this occasion on 29 June 1787) embraced a Bach overture, a Martini horn concerto, a Haydn Symphony, an organ concerto (probably improvised, since no composer’s name is given in the programme) and an oboe concerto by a Mr Parke — all of which alternated with bawdy and licentious glees and catches and Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Northumbrian and Yorkshire folk songs.

That eclectic mix — all the riches of the musical world all jammed up together — seems to characterise every aspect of the gardens, whether the food, the drink, the entertainment or the customers (where else could a common or garden Londoner able to scrape together the one shilling admission fee get to join in the singing of an impromptu catch led from the audience by John Monatagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich?).

So why did people stop visiting this magical place, leading to its closure on 25 July 1859, after which, according to the announcement of the final week’s entertainment, ‘this celebrated place of amusement … is DOOMED TO BE DESTROYED’? The authors suggest that the gardens ‘failed to evolve in a way that had a continuing appeal for the Victorian middle classes’. The novelties of an earlier age had lost their magic for a generation that had seen Britain emerge as a world power through military power, trade and industrial power. Balloon flights, introduced in the 1820s, proved hugely successful, but there were few other innovations, and there was much competition from rival attractions, such as the more central Cremorne Gardens, Lambeth’s theatre taverns and London’s new music halls, all of which offered similar entertainment. Then there was its reputation for noise, drunken behaviour and criminal activity that must surely have deterred ‘respectable’ patrons, who now flocked instead to attractions such as the Crystal Palace, which opened as a theme park in Sydenham in 1854. The traditional route to Vauxhall, by boat along the Thames, became increasingly unappetising with the volume of raw sewage being discharged into the river, culminating in the Great Stink of 1858.

But perhaps in the final analysis, say the authors, it was the development value of the land that did for Vauxhall Gardens: just as pubs are closing today in large numbers because they are more valuable as building sites than as hostelries, so it became increasingly clear to the owners that much more money was to be made by selling the ground than by keeping the gardens open. Thus the gardens closed, to pass into London mythology, a vaguely remembered place of romance, pleasure and fun now faithfully resurrected in this splendid volume.

Books by Fellows: The Black Death in London

More insights into London’s history are to be found in The Black Death in London (ISBN 9780752428291; History Press) by our Fellow Barney Sloane. Barney writes from the perspective of a former field archaeologist working for the Museum of London, who was inspired to tell the story of the Black Death of 1347—53 (‘the greatest single catastrophe to have struck mankind in recorded history’) when he came face to face with some of the victims during the excavation of the East Smithfield plague cemetery. The book thus combines documentary and archaeological evidence and what it tells us is that the plague did not arrive in London out of the blue, but was tracked as it spread through Europe, resulting in instructions being issued for the saying of prayers on a mass scale as a prophylactic and, in case these proved unacceptable to the divine will, to the preparation of cemeteries such as the one at East Smithfield.

In the event, the scale of the pestilence overwhelmed even these prudent plans, and Barney’s stitching together of all the sources results in a compelling month by month narrative of the reaction to the disease — not just the medical aspects, but the chaos that ensued as the authorities struggled to retain order in such areas as, for example, property ownership; with so many people dying so quickly, the whole legal and mercantile system on which London’s prosperity was built in the fourteenth century came under massive strain, and Barney’s book makes very effective use of contemporary wills to gain an insight into the social and economic consequences of the plague.

An appendix to the book asks what the study of London contributes to wider debates about the plague, including the identity of the disease and the means by which it spread. Without being able to give a definitive diagnosis of the precise nature of the disease, he argues that very little of the evidence points to Yesinia pestis (bubonic plague), the traditionally accepted diagnosis; much more detailed studies of ancient DNA are needed to pin this one down, he says.

Books by Fellows: Mixed Metaphors — The Danse Macabre in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

You might have thought that the Black Death would have inspired (if that is the right word) an artistic genre based on the momento mori theme, but the Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death, dates, in fact, to several decades later, the origin of all later examples being the cycle that was painted on the walls of one of the charnel houses in the parish cemetery of Les Saints Innocents in Paris. This book, Mixed Metaphors — The Danse Macabre in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (ISBN 9781443829007; Cambridge Scholars; to receive a 20 per cent discount when ordering online, leave the login window blank but enter mix20% as the password), edited by Fellow Sophie Oosterwijk and Stefanie Knöll, looks in detail at its subsequent history of an essentially medieval allegory, born in the early Renaissance that became a pan-European phenomenon manifest in art, poetry, drama, song and dance and that was still inspiring artists in the twentieth century (the latest example given in the book is a photograph by the German artist George Grosz, taken in 1918).

Contributors analyse the defining attributes of the Danse Macabre, and pursue multiple themes, from the anatomical representation of corpses and skeletonic figures to the representation of dance and song in paintings and frescoes, the satirical and humorous potential of the subject manifest in the representation of women, the wealthy, kings and prelates and the depiction of the theme by artists as different as Holbein, Dürer and the anonymous carvers of misericords in Flanders or Northumbrian churchyard tombs.

Books by Fellows: John Mirk’s Festial

The Festial, most probably composed in the late 1380s by the Augustinian canon, John Mirk, of Lilleshall Abbey, Shropshire, was the most popular and influential collection of sermons in English in the late medieval and early Tudor period, surviving in many copies, and printed by Caxton and his successors. The collection was designed to be accessible and entertaining, as well as orthodox, to counter the success of Lollard preaching, and taught both the priests who used the sermons, as well as their audiences, the fundamentals of the Christian faith and doctrine, illustrated by many stories. The Festial is the only English sermon collection to be printed in England before the Reformation and is probably the most frequently printed work of its time before religious change made it unacceptable. This new two-volume edition of John Mirk’s Festial has been edited by our Fellow Sue Powell for the Early English Text Society from British Library MS Cotton Claudius A.II (ISBN 9780199590377; Oxford University Press, and it includes full explanatory notes and a glossary.

Books by Fellows: Accounts and Records of the Manor of Mote in Iden 1441—1551, 1673

Fellows Mark Gardiner and Christopher Whittick are the editors behind this newly published Sussex Record Society volume, Accounts and Records of the Manor of Mote in Iden 1441—1551, 1673 (ISSN 0854450749), which includes an exceptionally detailed insight into the construction by Sir John Scott of a fashionable brick ‘castle’ at Mote between 1466 and 1476, including the establishment of a brick kiln, the supply of stone from Eastbourne and Cranbrook, ironwork from Woodchurch and glass from Calais. The accounts also record the purchases made to sustain a gentry household, and contain a wealth of information about supplies and provisioning in the hinterland of Rye and Romney Marsh, where Scott dug up woodland to create new fields and to build up his herd of cattle, and at Rye itself, where he built a dock to ship firewood to the English enclave of Calais.

Books by Fellows: Roma Britannica

Photo: pictured at the launch of Roma Britannica are contributors John Wilton-Ely, David Marshall, Karin Wolfe, Katrina Grant, Alastair Laing, Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Edward Chaney with Brian Allen (Director of Studies at the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art)

Roma Britannica: Art Patronage and Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Rome (ISBN 9780904152555; £35 from The British School at Rome, The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH), edited by David Marshall, Susan Russell and Karin Wolfe, has several Fellows amongst the contributors to this volume of conference papers on the cultural relationship between Britain and Rome in the long eighteenth century, when, as the editors argue, ‘Rome played an important part in the definition of what it meant to be British, Britain having appropriated the mantle of world empire inherited from ancient Rome, a legacy that the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire had long contested and that would be claimed ephemerally by Napoleonic France’.

Just as Napoleon was to expropriate the cultural treasures of the world as evidence of that imperial mastery, so this book details the ways in which British collectors amassed Roman works or commissioned simulacra: Fellow Andrew Wallace-Hadrill writes about the influence on British architects and artists of the discovery of the Villa Negroni in 1777; Fellow John Wilton-Ely looks at the influence of Rome on the artistic development of Robert and James Adam; Fellow Edward Chaney looks at what seems at first a digression from this theme with his examination of the English obsession with acquiring Egyptian-style obelisks as garden and architectural ornaments and as funerary sculpture, until you realise that Rome’s habit of doing the same (most triumphantly in the form of Bernini’s Piazza Novana Four Rivers fountain) was again the exemplar; Fellow Elizabeth Bartman continues the Egyptian theme, looking at the ways in which British interest in ancient Egypt was mediated through the Egyptian statues and objects that formed a major part of the great sculpture collections of Rome.

Books by Fellows: The Country House Companion

Though not the author, our Fellow Jane Moon did commission and publish this book, which Jane says ‘aims to bridge the gap between the very detailed one-site guidebook and the generic country-house book’. As the author David Phillips says in the introduction to The Country House Companion (ISBN 9780953956197; Moonrise Press), it is for those who, ‘when admiring a Humphrey Repton landscape, like to be reminded when he operated, and what were his major achievements. And if the difference between Late Baroque and Rococo sometimes slips you mind, or you can’t quite remember the exact dates of Queen Anne, this book is for you’. It also delves into the human aspects of country-house lives, such as the titles and duties of servants, menus, dances and even some noteworthy beds (!). Jane suggests that, even if Fellows do not need such a crib, Christmas is around the corner and it might make a suitable present for interested but less well-informed friends!

Books by Fellows: A Short History of England

As indeed might be said of the latest book by our Fellow Sir Simon Jenkins, A Short History of England (ISBN 9781846684616; Profile Books). Writing in the Guardian, which will serialise the book over the coming weeks, Simon describes the book as an ‘argued history’, intended to inform and empower debate, and one that ‘covers the main characters and events of England’s history, short enough to be read at one sitting’. His themes are England’s relations with its neighbours and the distribution of power within England, between central authority and local consent, the tension between state power and personal freedom. It is an ‘exhilarating and empowering’ story, he says, ‘and to be ignorant of it is not just to miss a great tale — it is dangerous for the future of democracy.’

Books by Fellows: Visions of England

In not dissimilar vein is Visions of England (ISBN 9781847921604; Bodley Head), by our Fellow Sir Roy Strong, a book that arose out of his contributions to Country Life magazine while reflecting on the paintings and works of literature that have contributed to our sense of what it means to be English.

Writing about the book in the Daily Telegraph, Sir Roy argues that a passion for the historic and natural environment is core to the definition of Englishness, and that the present war of words between conservation bodies and the Government over the National Planning Framework is one manifestation of that passion. Despite being the world’s first industrialised nation, our souls are rural and the countryside is fundamental to the idea of England, he believes, arguing that ‘recent proposals to open up our green and pleasant land to rapid and unthought-through development is an attack on our very identity’.

Sir Roy believes that rootedness in the land comes from ‘something else which has always set us apart. In England land ownership embodied economic wealth, social status and political power. Unlike on mainland Europe, where kings were absolute, we were a parliamentary democracy and the basis for power was not living in town or attendance at court but in the country where landowners built houses and were buried in their parish church. That didn’t happen in France or Italy. It explains, of course, our obsession with the country house that runs down from the Tudors to Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and “Downton Abbey”.’

Books by Fellows: The United Kingdom Supreme Court

Fellows might remember that SAVE Britain’s Heritage fought a campaign in 2006 opposing what it considered to be the damaging proposals for the conversion of the former Middlesex Guildhall (built 1906—13) into the new UK Supreme Court; SAVE took Westminster Council to court, seeking a judicial review of the conversion plans, on the grounds that they contravened national and local policy on the treatment of listed buildings.

SAVE lost its case and the £59 million conversion went ahead. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (ISBN 9781858945071; Merrell Publishers), edited by our Fellow Chris Miele, with contributions from eminent British judges and parliamentarians (including our Fellow Patrick Cormack, now Baron Cormack) and distinguished art and architectural historians, takes us inside the resulting building, whose wonderful details, in carved wood and stone, are revealed in Tim Imrie’s crisp photography. The book considers the legal background to the creation of the supreme court, the history of the building in the context of Parliament Square, its conversion to the highest court in the Land and the elaborate decoration, the result of a collaboration between architect, James Gibson, and sculptor, H C Fehr, of this late Gothic Revival masterpiece.

Books by Fellows: Psematismenos Trelloukkas

In Psematismenos Trelloukkas: An Early Bronze Age Cemetery in Cyprus (ISBN 9789963364534; Department of Antiquities, Cyprus) our Fellows Jennifer Webb and David Frankel combine with Giorgos Georgiou of the Cypriot Department of Antiquities to report on rescue excavations carried out at an Early Bronze Age cemetery on the south coast of Cyprus in 2008. Here forty-seven small chamber tombs produced 659 pottery vessels, most of which are illustrated in colour. As the largest assemblage of material from the period (apart from the finds from the north-coast cemeteries at Bellapais Vounous excavated in the 1930s), this provides an important opportunity to integrate scattered data from the centre and south of the island and to assess significant regional variation. The primarily utilitarian pottery from Psematismenos is characterised by deliberate, although quite unpredictable, patches of black mottling or fire-flashing which stand out dramatically against the red surface (as can be seen in the striking cover photograph). This approach to decoration is both attractive to the modern eye and in sharp contrast to the more formal geometric incision used in other parts of the island.

Books by Fellows: The Art of the Picts

Not a new book, this one, but newly published in paperback at the discounted price of £19.60 (including delivery, until 1 January 2012; order through the Thames & Hudson website and enter the offer code TH140 at the checkout) is The Art of the Picts: Sculpture and Metalwork in Early Medieval Scotland (ISBN 9780500289631; Thames & Hudson) by Fellow George Henderson and his wife Isabel Henderson. A book that is now an established classic needs no introduction; suffice to say the book was hailed as the most comprehensive reappraisal of Pictish art for more than a century when it was first published as a hardback in 2004, opening up the real significance of the Pictish artistic achievement, and described as ‘a benchmark in Pictish studies’ in our own Antiquaries Journal.

Oxford Preservation Trust seeks tenant for 15th-century merchant’s house in Abingdon

The Oxford Preservation Trust is looking for a Custodian Tenant for its fifteenth-century Grade II* merchant’s house at 26A East Saint Helen Street, Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The house features in England’s Thousand Best Houses, by our Fellow Simon Jenkins, and Pevsner describes it as ‘one of the most enticing in any English town’. The three-bedroomed house has a pretty south-facing walled garden and a reduced rent of £920 pcm to reflect the special nature of the letting, which involves giving reasonable public access, and assisting with occasional open days. Off-road parking for one car, no pets and not suitable for young children. For more information contact the Trust’s administrator, Eluned Hallas.

Vacancy

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Director
Closing date 10 October 2011

The SPAB has put out a press release announcing that it is seeking a Director to succeed our Fellow Philip Venning when he retires in 2012, after twenty-eight years at the helm. The press release (erroneously claiming that the SPAB is Britain’s oldest heritage body, but let that pass) says the new director will be responsible for the development and implementation of the recommendations of its recent strategic review. Advertisements giving further details will appear from 5 September, but information about the post can also be obtained from Philip Nelson at search consultancy Prospectus (tel: 0207 691 1920>).