Salon Archive

Issue: 55

John Hurst�s funeral: 30 May 2003

The funeral of John Hurst, FSA, will take place on Friday 30 May 2003, at Leicester Crematorium, Groby Road, Leicester, at 1.30pm. The General Secretary will attend, representing the Society. John Hurst�s family have requested that no flowers be sent but that donations be made instead to the Society for Medieval Archaeology (Andrew Reynolds, Honorary Secretary, Society for Medieval Archaeology, King Alfred�s College, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR).

Post of General Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries

As most Fellows are now aware, our General Secretary, Dai Morgan Evans, is retiring from the post on 1 March 2004, and a successor is now being sought. The post was advertized in The Guardian on 21 May, and will be advertized again in The Times on Tuesday 27 May and 3 June.

Further information about the post, with details of the selection process and how to apply, can be found on the home page of the Society�s

Weekly meeting report

At the Society�s meeting on 22 May, the Revd Mark Spurrell, FSA, argued for the existence of an unrecognized type of church and cathedral monument, dedicated to the cult of a �failed saint�, one who had not been canonized, but who was nevertheless revered as a healer, and as the focus of a cult. Since the Church did not recognize them as saints, there was no model for their shrines, and they take different forms, though common features include an arrangement for displaying relics and a raised slab surrounded by railings for the faithful to deposit ex votos, and a collection box for monetary offerings.

Forthcoming meetings

5 June: Ballot
12 June: Excavating the monastery of St Lot at Deir �Ain �Abata, Jordan, by Dr Konstantinos Politis
19 June: A Miscellany of Papers followed by the Summer Soir�e

Fellows� news

A brief notice appeared in The Independent on 23 May to say that Peter Erik Lasko died in France on 19 May 2003. Formerly of the Courtauld Institute, British Museum and University of East Anglia, and a Commissioner at the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, Peter was known to many as the author of Ars Sacra: 800-1200 in the Pelican History of Art series and was a Fellow of the Society until his resignation three years ago.

Lisa Elliott wishes to remind everyone that tickets are still available for the traditional Pimms and strawberry Summer Soir�e that follows the Society�s concluding meeting of the season on 19 June. Tickets cost �4.75 and are available from

Lisa is also keen to hear from any Fellow who knows the whereabouts of Dr Julian Raby, FSA, who appears to have left the Oriental Institute, but who has not provided a new address.

Charles Clarke and things medieval

Salon 54 reported that the Secretary of State for Education and Skills had made disparaging remarks about medievalists in a recent speech. In letters to The Guardian and The Independent he then claimed to have been misrepresented, stating that he did not have any quarrel with medievalists � but then he compounded the error by stating that the target of his disaffection was �the medieval concept of a university�.

Charles Clarke�s remarks received exactly the riposte that they deserved in a letter from Rosamond McKitterick, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Cambridge, which is quoted here in full.

�Sir: Charles Clarke�s reference to the �medieval concept� of the university as a community of scholars not only has pejorative overtones, but it also misrepresents the position of the universities since the foundation of the earliest � Bologna, Paris, Montpellier, Oxford and Cambridge � between 1180 and 1209.

�Medieval universities were established as corporations of masters and students, and from the very beginning have served and interacted with society. From the thirteenth century onwards, especially in England and France, they became a source on which governments drew for university-trained administrators.

�Certainly there has always been, from the schools of the ancient world onwards, a tension between the fundamental goal of higher education � namely to seek truth and knowledge � and the necessity simultaneously to prepare students for their roles in public life and society at large. It is precisely this tension and interdependence between the relentless and committed pursuit of knowledge and practical utility that have proved so creative and productive over the last 800 years.

�Without constant research, minds and knowledge would stagnate and teaching would rapidly become a useless and unproductive repetition of the old and out-of-date. The state cannot afford not to maintain higher education in universities, for it contributes at every level to the wellbeing of society.�

Schools to be run by Britain�s major museums

Charles Clarke met with the senior management of several links between schools and museums. Representatives attended the meeting from the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the National Portrait Gallery, the RAF Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, National Archives and the British Library.

Subsequent reports say that the Education Secretary received a warm response to the idea that museums should become involved in the government's city academies scheme. Under the scheme, sponsors fund the initial capital cost of setting up the school, but are then free to run the school while the state pays the revenue costs. The government describes them as �independent state schools�. One way for museums to become involved is by donating �50,000, which entitles them to have an ongoing relationship with the school.

Museums might then be expected to help the schools focus on an area that matches their own expertise, whether in science or the arts. The government has launched this initiative in the belief that such schools would be particularly popular with parents who currently educate their children privately � which includes 20 per cent of all the children of school age living in London, for example.

Threat to York Minster Library

A report in The Times last week said that the library at York Minster will close at the end of August, and that the majority of its contents will be moved elsewhere or sold. The library holdings include a nationally important collection of Civil War documents and the Tobie Matthew collection, bequeathed by a sixteenth-century archbishop. These plums from the collection will be put on display as part of a heritage exhibition, designed to raise additional funds for the cathedral, which is also planning to introduce a compulsory admission charge. Dr Charles Kightly is campaigning against the closure, and says that to sell all but the oldest books and documents is outrageous: �We have a body of men who are temporary custodians of this library. How is that they can sell off the family silver?�. Our Fellow, Professor Richard Sharpe, of Oxford University�s Faculty of Modern History, says that few record offices or local manuscript repositories have such a good and accessible collection of relevant books. He adds that it was only five years ago that the Heritage Lottery Fund gave the cathedral a million pounds to expand the reading room.

Saving Prague�s library

Meanwhile Jiri Vnoucek, head of the conservation department at the Czech National Library in Prague, told the audience at an ICOMOS-UK sponsored lecture last week of the heroic struggle to save millions of books, manuscripts and maps waterlogged after the floods that swamped Prague and other European cities last August. Frozen food warehouses and refrigeration vehicles were commandeered to freeze the documents to prevent rotting. One by one, conservationists then began the task of thawing the waterlogged items by wrapping them in materials that absorb moisture and placing them in vacuum machines, before bathing them in ethylene oxide gas to kill contaminants.

Mr Vnoucek, who trained in the UK, paid especial credit to the UK for its help in coping with the crisis, saying that British experts were phoning with offers of help as soon as news of the flooding was reported, and that the British Council paid for the first consignment of vacuum machines, and for British specialists to train their Czech colleagues.

Mass grave found near Stonehenge

Archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology have found the bones of six people interred in a single grave, close to the grave of the Amesbury Archer. The four adults and two children contained in the grave are believed to be about the same age as the Amesbury Archer, dating back to 2,300 BC. Four Beaker-style pots were found in the grave together with flint tools, a flint arrowhead and a bone toggle. Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, FSA, of Wessex Archaeology, said: �The grave is fascinating because we are seeing the moment when Britain was moving from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age. The large number of bodies placed in this grave is something more commonly found in the Stone Age, but the Beaker-style pottery is found in Bronze Age burials.� It is possible the bones are those of people from different generations, as the grave seems to have been reopened to allow further burials to be made. The bones of the earlier burials were mixed up, but those of the later burials, a man and a child, were undisturbed.

�London 1753� exhibition at the British Museum

Our Fellow Sheila O�Connell has seen her efforts come to fruition with the opening last week of the �London 1753� exhibition at the British Museum, which she has curated as part of the British Museum�s 250th anniversary celebrations.

The exhibition looks at London from the crisis of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion to the early years of the reign of George III, when the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 saw the creation of the first British Empire. London then had just overtaken Constantinople and Paris to become the largest city in the western world, with a population of 700,000. It was the capital of a country grown rich and powerful through international trade. It was the London of William Hogarth, Samuel Johnson, Henry Fielding, David Garrick and Giacomo Casanova; the London of Horace Walpole, Thomas Chippendale and the young Robert Adam; a London of aristocrats, politicians, merchants, artisans, philanthropists as well as a London of prostitutes and gin addicts.

The newly rich had an appetite for consumer goods which meant that industries like silk-weaving, jewellery, porcelain manufacture and print-publishing flourished alongside the more essential trades involved in servicing the growing population: the great food-markets, the water companies, the night-soil men.

Over three hundred objects illustrate London in this period; from prints by Hogarth and drawings by Canaletto (who was in London for nine years from 1746) to fine examples of porcelain made in Bow and Chelsea, as well as Chinese export ware brought across the world by the ships of the East India Company. Also on display is a first edition of Dr Johnson�s Dictionary, John Rocque's vast map showing the extent of the capital and ephemera such as shop signs, handbills, Spitalfields silks, jewellery, silks, coins and condoms.

The exhibition is open daily until 23 November, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, London 1753 (�24.99, British Museum Press, May 2003), by Sheila O'Connell, with contributions by Ralph Hyde, Celina Fox and Roy Porter, who wrote his essay shortly before his sudden death in 2002.


Brighton and Hove City Council: Keeper of the Royal Pavilion
Salary �25,245 to �27,420, closing date 2 June 2003

To be responsible for the future development and presentation of the Royal Pavilion. For further details, email quoting ref CE1376.

National Museum of Photography, Film and Television: RPS Curator of Photographs
Salary �24,000, closing date 6 June 2003

To integrate the Royal Photographic Society�s collection into the National Museum on the occasion of the Society�s 150th anniversary, including cataloguing, collections research, exhibition development and publications. For further details, email

The Wallace Collection: Head of Education
Salary c �25,000 to �28,000, closing date 9 June 2003

To create an inspiring education programme to encourage visitors of every age and background to engage with the collection�s works of art. Full details on the Wallace Collection�s website.

Resource: East Midlands Museum Hub Manager
Salary �27,500 to �32,500, closing date 11 June 2003

The job involves co-ordinating the delivery of operational plans to implement the Renaissance in the Regions strategy in the East Midlands. Further details from Julie Robinson at

Imperial War Museum: Head of Curatorial Section, Department of Exhibits and Firearms
Salary �29,700 to �37,125, closing date 18 June 2003

To play a senior role in the organization, preservation, development and presentation of the majority of the Museum�s collections of three-dimensional objects. For further details, email quoting ref EF1.