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Salon: Issue 300
17 June 2013

Next issue: 1 July 2013

The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of news from the heritage sector. It focuses on the activities of the Society and the contribution that the Society's Fellows make to public life. Like the intellectual salons of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it aims to amuse and to stimulate debate as well as to inform. A copy of Salon’s editorial policy can be found on the Society’s website. News and feedback for publication in Salon should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.
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Inside this issue

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2013

Congratulations to the following Fellows on their well-deserved inclusion in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours list:

CBE: Margaret Evelyn (Dr Aston) Buxton, FBA, ecclesiastical historian, for services to historical scholarship;
OBE: Keith Abel Falconer, formerly of English Heritage and the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, for services to industrial archaeology;
MBE: Dr Brian John Philp, for services to archaeology in Kent.

Above: Brian Philp in the robes of the University of Kent, which awarded him an honorary degree in 2012

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Deadlines for Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott Manor and Fellowship consultation

Musical entertainment at the Kelmscott Manor Fellows’ Day on 14 July 2013 will be provided by the jazz duo known as ‘Impromptu’, comprising pianist Neal Richardson (whose fans include George Clooney and Brad Pitt!) and Sue Richardson, one of just a handful of female singer/trumpet players worldwide (Sue has been touring with big bands since the age of sixteen, has performed at The Last Night of The Proms and occasionally guests with the Humphrey Lyttelton Band).

‘Impromptu’ will play on the lawn outside the Tearoom, where the food will be provided by Janet Hilton (formerly the National Trust’s Catering Manager at Dyrham Park): everything she makes is delicious and home-made.

Finally, Fellows will have the opportunity to see a rare film narrated by Dick Dufty and Peter Locke filmed at the Manor during the 1960s and called ‘Kelmscott Manor: how it was saved’.

Tickets for the Fellows’ Day cost £15 (£7 for children under 16) and should be booked by contacting the Kelmscott Manor staff by 21 June 2013.

Don’t forget that 21 June is also the deadline for the Fellowship consultation on the Society and its activities.

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Summer closure

The Society’s library and apartments will close for the summer at 4pm on Friday 26 July 2013 and reopen at 10am on Monday 2 September 2013. Fellows who wish to use the library during this time are advised to telephone in advance to arrange an appointment to visit.

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York Antiquaries Wall Walk

Fellow Stephen Greep, Hon Secretary of the York Antiquaries, says that ‘the third, and final, guided York Wall Walk will take place on Saturday 6 July 2013. Continuing our theme of “improving the presentation, enjoyment and public understanding of the fortifications of York and their settings”, the walk will begin at 10.30am starting from outside the main entrance to the Castle Museum. It will last approximately 2.5 hours and be followed by lunch in a local pub. Our guide is again Dr Peter Goodchild, Director of the Garden and Landscape Heritage Trust at the University of York, who has a deep and detailed knowledge of the history of York and its buildings. I would be grateful for confirmation of your attendance; you are also, of course, welcome to bring a guest.’

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Congratulations to the William Morris Gallery

Last week brought the news that the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London, has been awarded the £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year. The judging team (Director of the Art Fund, Stephen Deuchar; historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes; the artist (one person, despite the name) Bob and Roberta Smith; the Daily Telegraph’s Arts Editor, Sarah Crompton; and the historian and MP Tristram Hunt) said that ‘the extraordinary collections, beautifully presented, draw the visitor engagingly through Morris’s life and work and through the building itself, setting the highest standards of curatorship, and reaching out impressively to its local community with an ambitious programme of events and activities’.

Winning the prize represents a major turnaround for a museum that was embroiled in controversy six years ago. As Salon reported at the time, Waltham Forest Borough Council voted in April 2007 to close the museum and make its fourteen expert staff redundant, despite an international ‘Keep our Museum Open’ campaign led by the Friends of the William Morris Gallery (chaired by our Fellow Martin Stuchfield) and supported by Ken Livingstone, Lord (Chris) Smith and Tony Benn, among many high-profile figures, not to mention our Society and many individual Fellows, such as Gavin Stamp who described the closure as ‘wilful barbarism’.

For once the campaign was successful: Waltham Forest realised that it had a major asset in its hands and invested £1.5m, securing a similar sum from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The renovated gallery reopened last August (2012), telling the story of William Morris’s life and achievements in the setting of the Grade II* listed Georgian house in which he grew up. Some 100,000 visitors have visited the museum in the last ten months (compared with 30,000 or so annually before the reopening) and the new special exhibition gallery opened by displaying Grayson Perry’s fifteen-metre long Walthamstow Tapestry (shown above is Morris's Peacock and Vine tapestry, one of the Gallery's permanent exhibits).

Praising the campaigners, and the local authority for having the courage to change its mind, Stephen Deuchar said: ‘the refurbished gallery sets the highest standards of curatorship ... the collections are very beautifully presented, the labels are erudite and accessible. There is a great curatorial coherence to the collections and that comes across in every square foot of the museum.’

At the awards ceremony held at the V&A, Stephen Deuchar also said that these are ‘worrying times for the museum sector, with many local authorities cutting back on spending and museums fearing more cuts as a result of George Osborne’s forthcoming spending review ... for UK museums to be achieving at such a high level and simultaneously facing the withdrawal of public investments is a national tragedy. We are very keen that the prize draws attention to the exceptional quality of UK museums and hopefully that will act as a very powerful argument in favour of new investment in the future.’

The National Trust’s Stoneywell appeal

Another important house with a Morris connection is likely to be opened to the public in 2014 if the National Trust can obtain the necessary planning permission and listed building consent to change Stoneywell, in Ulverscroft, Leicestershire, from a residential home to a visitor attraction, and to convert the stable block to offices and visitor facilities.

Built in 1899, Grade II* listed Stoneywell was designed by the Leicester-born Arts and Crafts architect Ernest Gimson (1864―1919) for his elder brother Sydney Gimson and his wife Jeanie. Gimson has William Morris to thank for steering him towards his architectural career. The two men met when Gimson attended Morris’s lecture on ‘Art and Socialism’ in Leicester in 1884, and Morris was so impressed by the young man that he recommended him to the architect J D Sedding, in whose office Gimson learned his profession. It is perhaps appropriate then that Gimson was to be commissioned by May Morris in 1914 to design Manor Cottages, Kelmscott, as a memorial to her mother Jane and later to design the Morris Memorial Hall, in Kelmscott, which finally opened (after a protracted fund-raising campaign) in 1934, the centenary of William Morris’s birth. Gimson also erected the stone-slab fence that lines the road from Manor Cottages to Kelmscott Manor.

A further Morris connection is the fact that the young Detmar Blow was employed as the foreman at Stoneywell, in charge of the building team. Blow was another Morris protégé: he was one of five people present at Morris’s death and it was his idea to use a traditional harvest cart, decorated with moss, willow boughs, vine leaves and flowers as Morris’s funeral hearse, himself dressed in a wagoner’s smock to drive the cart. Inspired by Morris’s ‘truth to materials’ message, Blow used the experience he gained working at Stoneywell to learn the skills of stone quarrying, masonry and tiling.

Stoneywell comes to the Trust complete with the furniture made for the house by Ernest Gimson and by Sidney and Ernest Barnsley, all three being founders of the Sapperton workshop, renowned for its Cotswold Arts and Crafts furniture. One item of furniture in the house has a special resonance for the National Trust: the oak leaf carved on a coffer later served as the inspiration for the Trust’s logo.

The Trust has so far raised more than £500,000 towards the cost of repairing the property and opening it to the public. Our Fellow Lars Tharp is championing the fundraising campaign. He describes Stoneywell as ‘a magical home set in an enchanted part of Leicestershire ... that vividly transports us to a period of pre-war, Edwardian innocence ... the perfect adventure house with its light-filled rooms, warren of twisting stairs and surprising angles ... it’s a place made even more vivid by the surviving Gimson family archives in which the domestic lives and the underlying currents of the Arts and Crafts Movement ― the love of place and of honest, natural materials ― can clearly be seen.’

The acquisition of the property has been made possible thanks to support from the Monument Trust and the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, coupled with generous donations from local supporters and a gift from the Gimson family themselves. Further information can be found on the National Trust’s website.

The latest on Open Access

Research Councils in the UK (UKRC) have now published the final version of their Open Access Policy. This document sets out the open access rules that apply from now on to all peer-reviewed journal articles that ‘would need to acknowledge RCUK support’ because they result from research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council or the Economic and Social Research Council.

The document confirms what has already been set out and widely discussed, viz that there are ‘Gold’ and ‘Green’ routes to Open Access, and that RCUK ‘has a preference’ for the Gold route, by means of which journal papers are made available to all free of charge from the moment they are published; under the Green route, publishers can charge for access for a period of up to twenty-four months before the paper must be made freely available.

RCUK has made grants available to some research institutions to enable them to pay the Article Processing Charges levied by journal publishers to support the Gold route. The report also acknowledges that ‘the journey to full Open Access is a process and not a single event and therefore it expects compliance to grow over a transition period anticipated to be five years; RCUK will undertake a comprehensive, evidence‐based review of the effectiveness and impact of its Open Access policy in 2014 and periodically thereafter (probably in 2016 and 2018)’.

The Cultural Value Project

Salon’s editor learns from the excellent Newsletter of the Ancient Monuments Society that the Arts and Humanities Council is to fund research ‘to explore the ways in which the arts and culture are important in our contemporary society and how we can provide evidence of that importance’.

The project’s director is Sir Geoffrey Crossick, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities with the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. He commented: ‘This is a timely and important project, and one that will identify the contribution that the arts and culture bring to individuals and to society with greater breadth than in the past. The challenge is to find ways of evidencing those various contributions, from health to the economy, from urban revitalisation to an environment for innovation. Above all, however, it will explore in what ways engagement with arts and culture affects people, makes them reflective as individuals and thoughtful as citizens. Culture matters, and in challenging times we need to show just how important it is.’

Unfortunately it is too late to apply to take part in the project (the closing date for grant applications was 16 April 2013), but it is envisaged that some twenty to forty projects will be funded over the next two years, looking at the value of culture from a range of disciplinary, conceptual and methodological perspectives. Workshops and seminars are also planned. Salon will report further in due course: in the meantime, if any Salon reader has secured funding from this source and wishes to share information about their work, please do get in touch.

'Past, Present and Future: culture and heritage in an independent Scotland'

On the same theme, Scotland’s Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, gave a speech on 5 June 2013 at Edinburgh University setting out ‘five key areas which underpin [the Scottish Government’s] approach to culture and heritage’. Her speech made a refreshing contrast to the recent speech by England’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, who saw the arts and heritage sector as a means of making money for Britain PLC and who demanded ‘healthy dividends’ in return for ‘our investment’.

Fiona Hyslop described her Government as ‘the most culturally ambitious that Scotland has ever had’, and said that it wanted to ‘build an independent nation where our cultural and historic life can flourish’, asserting that ‘public funding of the arts is a fundamental good ... we want the opportunity to take this to new heights, carried on a wave of aspiration, optimism, energy and confidence’.

She said that the Scottish Government ‘already accepts the case for the role of government in supporting the cultural sector. We actively support the case for public subsidy of the arts. We understand that culture and heritage have a value in and of themselves ... I don’t need or want the culture or heritage sector to make a new economic or social case to justify public support for their work ... I know what these sectors can deliver because I see it in action.’

While acknowledging that arts, heritage and culture undoubtedly have important social, economic and personal impacts, she said that this was less important than the fact that ‘they are our heart, our soul, our essence ... they bind and connect our past, our present and our future ... and help to empower, enrich and shape our communities’. Furthermore, there was no better way to ‘suck the vitality’ out of the sector than to ‘reduce it to nothing more than a commodity ... products that can be bought and sold’.

There is much more in this vein, and the whole speech is an invigorating blast of common sense. To read the whole speech, see the Scottish Government’s website. And can we have a referendum please on moving Scotland’s border south to the English Channel ― at least as far as cultural policy is concerned (you can keep the midges).

Scotland, not the US, pioneered the architectural iron industry

It is good to hear of another field in which Scotland has led the world: at a conference on the Architectural Iron Industry in Scotland that took place at Callendar House in Falkirk on 13 June, delegates heard from David Mitchell, Director of Conservation at Historic Scotland, that Scotland was the world’s leading manufacturer of pre-fabricated iron structures, not the United States.

James Bogardus, the American architect, has been credited as the originator of cast-iron architecture up to now, and he was fond of affixing plaques to his buildings that announced: ‘James Bogardus Originator & Patentee of Iron Buildings Pat’ May 7, 1850’. However, Historic Scotland staff have found that Bogardus, who was married to Scottish-born Margaret McClay, visited Perth Waterworks (shown left) during a trip to Scotland, a cast-iron building that pre-dates any of his work in the US by fifteen years.

David Mitchell said: ‘Scotland was the world’s leading manufacturer of pre-fabricated iron structures for a considerable time, and objects and structures are still being traced in India, South Africa, South America and Australia’. Falkirk was chosen as the location for the conference because of its links to the Carron Foundry, which opened in 1759. The event comes ahead of both Metal 2013, a triennial international conference on metal conservation to be held in Edinburgh in September, and the submission in 2014 of the nomination of the Forth Bridge for World Heritage Site status.

It’s not history’s job to be ‘relevant’

And whilst blows are being struck for common sense, Salon’s editor would like to commend Howard Jacobson’s recent comments in the Independent on the place of ‘relevance’ in the education system. He says that it has been fashionable for more than a decade now to argue that children need to be able to identify with the great heroes from history and that this creates a problem for so-called ‘black and minority ethnic children’, hence the raising of African soldiers serving on Hadrian’s Wall to elevated status, not to mention Jamaica-born Mary Seacole as a rival to Florence Nightingale.

Jacobson argues that to take the ‘relevance’ route is not to educate children but to disinherit them; it demeans those it pretends to help by assuming limits to their curiosity; it cuts off their access to ‘irrelevant’ intellectual pleasure and enlightenment and ‘narrows learning to the chance precincts of an individual’s birth, class or upbringing’.

‘The education system I benefited from’, says Jacobson, ‘assumed an equality of eagerness for knowledge, and an equality of right to acquire it’. Being born Jewish, northern and working class did not make Jacobson feel invisible because ‘we were perfectly happy to read about people who weren’t us. We didn’t read to self-identify ... [but] in order imaginatively to enjoy the company of others, in order to understand what those who were not ourselves were like, in order to feel the world expand around us, in order to go places we didn’t routinely go to in our neighbourhoods or in our heads, in order to meet the challenge of difference ... it’s not history’s job to be relevant to us; it’s our job to be relevant to history’.

'Heritage Help'

'Heritage Help' is the name of a new website created by Lucie Carayon, of the Ancient Monuments Society, under the aegis of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies and with funding from English Heritage. Offering advice on the funding, care and conservation of historic buildings, the site is aimed primarily at charities, trusts, town and parish councils and community groups and individual owners who want to know how to rescue or maintain a much-loved building, especially any group thinking of taking on community assets under the powers created in the Localism Act 2012. This is the Act that enables residents to apply to the local authority for a building in their area to be designated as a community asset, so that it cannot be sold on the open market without the community being given the opportunity to buy it first.

The Act has already been used by six community groups to acquire their local pub: one example is the group in Southwark that purchased the Grade II listed Ivy House pub in Nunhead by launching a share issue and borrowing £500,000 with the help of the Architectural Heritage Fund. Post Offices housed in listed buildings may well be designated as Assets of Community Value in future, given the number that are due to close under the recently announced Post Office rationalisation.

The Alan Sorrell Project

Left: Self-Portrait (1971): Alan Sorrell in his studio with his daughter Julia in the background

Another new internet offering, this time on Facebook, has been set up by Julia and Mark Sorrell, offspring of our late Fellow Alan Sorrell, to provide biographical information and illustrations that reveal and celebrate his work. The related website has a substantial section devoted to Alan’s archaeological work. It also covers his work as a war artist and his mural work, including his recently restored 1951 Festival of Britain Mural and the scenes from the life of St Peter that he painted on the chancel arch of St Peter’s Church, Bexhill-on-Sea, in the same year.

Members of the Sorrell family are keen to hear from anybody with some connection to Alan and from anyone who knows the whereabouts of his work in private and public collections so that they can build up a photo-archive. Sir John Soane’s Museum will host a special exhibition of Sorrell’s work later this year (25 Oct 2013 to 25 Jan 2014; Salon will report further in due course.

The Death of Venice?

A cruise ship in front of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, August 2011. Photograph: Felipe Rodriguez/Trigger Imag

The New York Review of Books has published an article by our Fellow Anna Somers Cocks in which she warns of threats to the future of Venice. One of these is the plan to build an 820-foot-high skyscraper on the Venetian mainland. Although it will be sited some six miles from Venice, the structure will be visible on the skyline, becoming a new and unwanted feature intruding into views of St Mark’s Square.

Such a development is not supposed to happen, since World Heritage Sites should have a buffer zone in which developments that have a negative impact are forbidden. But the City Council has only just (in November 2012) approved its management plan, even though Venice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site In 1987. It is a plan that, Anna argues, ‘funks all the big issues’, and most notably the problem of the huge cruise ships that have an even more devastating impact on Venetian views and on the ecology of the Lagoon.

Anna says that the 250 public bodies consulted in the course of writing the management plan did not include ‘the very popular “No Big Ships” movement ... and the question of the vast cruise ships sailing through the Lagoon is barely mentioned among the list of problems to be resolved’. Indeed, writes Anna, ‘the powerful head of the Venice Port Authority (VPA), Paolo Costa ... is proud of the fact that, under his management, the port in Venice has risen to be the most important in the Mediterranean for the cruising industry. On any given day now, except in the winter, you will see these vast white floating hotels, thirteen or fifteen decks high, towering over the ancient rooftops and steeples, being pulled by tugs toward the Doge’s Palace, then turning starboard down the Giudecca Canal. Most are over three times the length of an American football field, with gross tonnage of 100,000 or more (the Titanic was only 46,000 tons). In 1997 there were 206 cruise ships, in 2011, 655, and because they sail into and out of the city by the same canal, that means 1,310 passages — blotting out the view, polluting the air, shaking the houses, and displacing water up into the canals off the Giudecca.’

As Anna admits, the port plays a growing part in the economy of a town where there are fewer and fewer jobs outside the tourist industry: ‘according to Costa, it provides 1,600 direct jobs in services for the ships and passengers, 2,600 jobs in supplies, maintenance, repairs, bunker sales, etc, and 1,270 direct jobs created by tourist spending in Venice (at least €363 million a year) before and after the cruise, with one-third of passengers disembarking and embarking there’. These are considerations that are influential with the Venetian authorities, so it is very unliley that anything will change in the foreseeable future.

News from and of Fellows

Salon’s editor has learned from Fellow Paul Sutherland that the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to which he has just been admitted as a solemnly (i.e. perpetually) professed Knight of Malta, is a thriving organisation of some 13,500 knights and dames, including 250 in the UK. Of these, Paul (shown in his uniform on the left) is now one of just sixty professed knights, and one of only seven in the UK, who have taken monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Paul’s Scottish arms have consequently been revised to include a chaplet (or rosary; see below).

Paul explains that, unlike most monks, professed knights do not live in a community, but singly at home and since they must not be a drain on the Order’s finances, they cannot be too poverty stricken! It is from among these sixty professed knights, who also fulfil the nobiliary requirements of the Order, that the Grand Master is chosen and elected for life. Paul made his vows before the Order’s Prince and Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, in the Church of St James, Spanish Place, London W1. The website of the British Association of the Order has more information on its charitable work and on the Order’s institutions. It is sad to learn from Paul that there are many bogus organisations, mainly in the USA, who use variations on the names of the Orders of St John and Malta to take large sums from people who think they are making donations to the genuine order.

Fellow Mark Staniforth writes to report on an online project centre that he has created, together with a team of researchers who have been working in Vietnam for the past few years, to increase awareness at local, provincial, national and international levels about the extent and nature of Vietnam’s underwater and maritime cultural heritage. The Vietnam Maritime Archaeology Project site presents material about a range of maritime archaeology projects and insights into Vietnam’s fascinating maritime history, including thirteenth-century battles against Kublai Khan, traditional boat building, shipwrecks, NAS training efforts and more. You can also read Mark’s article setting out the background to his work in Vietnam ― ‘First wrecked, now pillaged: Vietnam’s underwater treasure’ ― on The Conversation website.

Fellow Adrian Ailes says that he is still not quite sure how it happened, but he has somehow found himself ‘dipping a toe into the twenty-first century by producing a blog. This seeks to highlight (apologies for the pun ― read on) the benefits of a new photographic technique known as polynomial textual mapping, which radically improves the way in which we can capture intricate detail on three-dimensional objects such as seals. I hope readers of Salon will find it of interest. The blog also refers readers (if that is the right term) to the National Archives' new seal research guide, which is based on the superb catalogue created by our Fellow Professor Paul Harvey.’

Our Fellow the Bishop of London, The Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, has contributed the Foreword to a newly published guide to Fulham Palace and its extensive Thames-side gardens. Written by museum curator Miranda Poliakoff, the guide looks at the history and archaeology of the Grade-I listed palace, which served as the residence of the Bishops of London until 1973. Richard (who is the first Bishop to live in the City since the early seventeenth century) says he is glad that bishops have returned to their role as servants of the servants of Christ and thus enjoy a much simpler lifestyle these days, but admits he would have quite enjoyed living at Fulham, had circumstances been otherwise.

’s photograph shows the excavation of the remains of a medieval timber bridge over the Fulham Palace moat. The timbers were dendro-dated to 1249―85 and the associated pottery to 1270―1350, showing that the moat pre-dates the first documentary mention of the magna fossa in 1392! The excavation took place in 2011 during the opening up of a 90m-long section of the moat, removing builders’ debris dumped in 1921―4, as part of the recently completed restoration project. Brickwork forming part of the wing wall of the Tudor replacement bridge, which was re-faced in stone in the early nineteenth century, can be seen behind.

Further information about the guide, the buildings and the historic gardens can be found on the Fulham Palace website, and via the garden blog.

Fellow Christine Finn contributes news of her summer exhibition, Overlooked, which, as in previous years, is set within Christine’s home at 58 Golf Road, Deal CT14 6QB, the surburban seaside semi that has inspired a five-year series of Arts Council-funded installations called Leave Home Stay. Funded by Arts Council England and promoted as an RIBA ‘Love Architecture’ 2013 event, Overlooked (22―30 June; free admission) consists of an exhibition, with talks and workshops, inspired by Outsider Art and overlooked artists and architecture.

Left:  Machine For Finding the Meaning of Life; from the Pallant House Gallery's Outside In project

Christine says that ‘two rooms in the house will feature the work of Ian Sherman and Elzbieta Harbord, two artists from Outside In project based at the Pallant House gallery in Chichester that provides a platform for artists who find it difficult to access the art world because of mental health issues, disability, health, social circumstance or because their work does not conform to what is normally considered to be art; the artists will talk about their work on Saturday 22 June at 11am. Another two artists from “Outside In” will run a workshop on the naive Cornish seaside artist, Alfred Wallis, on Saturday 22 June from 2pm. Another room will feature work by the photographer Harold Chapman who lived at the Beat Hotel for several years, photographing Ginsberg, Burroughs and other writers and artists before they were well known and accepted.'

Upstairs, visitors will find Christine’s own installation inspired by a visit to St Remy in 2006 consisting of extracts from letters sent by Van Gogh from the hospital there, read by the actor Michael Maloney, along with birdsong recorded in Deal and in the garden at St Remy. Michael will also do live readings on Saturday 22 and Saturday 29 June at 7pm. There will also be a display of twenty paintings inspired by Van Gogh’s life and work on loan from Valetudo, the art therapy unit set up at the hospital in St Remy-de-Provence, where Vincent Van Gogh was treated and where he painted some of his best-known work. Valetudo is part of the working hospital specialising in women’s mental health.

A further bedroom will house small works made to encourage scrutiny of overlooked architectural features. A family workshop, 'Rear Window', will encourage participants to make art inspired by the view over neighbouring gardens and houses and another bedroom will be the venue for a series of talks, including those by Susan Kruse, curator of the Library of Lost Books project, and herself an autistic artist, on Sunday 23 June at 1pm, and Jenny Tillotson, Reader in Sensory Fashion at Central St Martin’s, who will talk on wellness, creativity and the bipolar condition, on Sunday 23 June at 2.30pm.

Christine Finn herself will talk about what inspired Overlooked, and growing up in a dyslexic family, on Sunday 23 June at 11am, a subject about which she has written in the Guardian recently.

Fellow Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Adviser at English Heritage, has asked Salon to draw attention to the most recent edition of the Conservation Bulletin, edited on this occasion by Mark himself and Mike Harlow, Legal and Governance Director at English Heritage, ConBull can be downloaded from the English Heritage website and it contains a range of articles on the theme of ‘Heritage Crime' from those involved in preventing crime and for policing and prosecution.

Mark also publishes short news updates on heritage crime stories and outcomes on his Twitter feed, where he reports that he recently led a day-long training course at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education on understanding and managing crime and anti-social behaviour in relation to the historic environment.This was attended by delegates from Germany and Nigeria as well as the UK, and included news of the development of a new working group chaired by Chief Constable Andy Bliss that is seeking to integrate portable antiquities, illicit trade and markets and museum security into the existing work within the historic environment.

As reported in the last issue of Salon, heritage crime is just as much a problem for the authorities in Ireland but some good news was recently reported in the Irish Times, which said that nearly 900 artefacts, including a Bronze Age axe and medieval silver coins, had been returned from the UK to the safekeeping of the National Museum in Ireland after being illegally removed between 2009 and 2012 by treasure hunters using metal detectors. The recovery of the items was the culmination of an investigation that started in 2012 after the British Museum was alerted to discussions on the internet about metal detecting in Ireland. The collection was recovered from the Norwich area and had been amassed by an individual, now deceased, believed to have been detecting on a number of sites in Tipperary.

Lives Remembered: Hugh Murray

The death has been announced of our Fellow Hugh Murray, the leading historian of York, on 8 June 2013, at the age of eighty. The funeral service will take place at York Cemetery Chapel, Cemetery Road, on 21 June 2013 at 11.30am, followed by a reception at the Chapel, York Cemetery. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Mesothelioma Research (enquiries to Co-op Funeralcare, York; tel: 01904 792893).

York’s local newspaper, The Press, reported that Hugh Murray worked for British Rail for many years as Assistant Signal Engineer for the entire Eastern Region before retiring in 1988. He then began a new life as a historian, amassing a private library of several thousand books and tens of thousands of photographs dedicated to the city’s history, while writing some twenty books on different aspects of York.

Our Fellow Peter Addyman, former director of York Archaeological Trust and now chairman of the York Civic Trust, said: ‘He was an absolutely splendid person, who was a tremendous source of information for us at the Trust. He made himself an expert on a whole series of aspects of York’s history. He was a tremendous supporter of YAYA (Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society).’

Lives Remembered: Malcolm Todd (27 November 1939 to 6 June 2013)

Several Fellows have contacted Salon’s editor with the news of the recent death of Malcolm Todd, saying that, although he resigned from the Society when he retired, he was a distinguished archaeologist who taught a number of Fellows and that his passing should be mentioned.

Malcolm’s research interests were in the archaeology of the Later Roman Empire and migration period, early urbanism in Europe and relations between the Roman Empire and contemporary barbarian world. Graduating from the University of Wales and Brasenose College, Oxford, he worked as a research assistant at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, in Bonn, in 1963―5, then moved to the University of Nottingham, where he eventually became Reader in Archaeology. He was Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter from 1979 until 1996, during which time he also served as a member of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (1986―93) and the Council of the National Trust (1986―92). From 1996 until his retirement in 2000 he was Principal of Trevelyan College and Professor of Archaeology at the University of Durham.


Apologies to our Fellow Heinrich Härke for misinterpreting his words in the last issue of Salon. The introduction to his ‘Letter from Russia’ in Salon 299 described the republics he had recently visited as ‘formerly autonomous’, whereas they are simply ‘autonomous republics’. Heinrich explains: ‘they were nominally autonomous within the Soviet Union, and are a bit more autonomous now, with their own parliaments, budgets, prime ministers ― and cultural policies, which is where the archaeology comes in. Bashkortostan (which I wrote about) is one of them; Chechnya is an internationally better known example, but I haven't travelled there yet!’


11 July 2013: ‘The Lost Paintings of Cowdray’; our Fellow Bernard Nurse will give the first Annual Heritage Lecture arranged by the Midhurst U3A at 7pm at Capron House, North Street, Midhurst, followed by drinks in the garden; tickets £5 available on the door. The lecture will focus on the Society’s eighteenth-century engravings depicting the sinking of the Mary Rose and other historical events.

20 July 2013: Exploring the Archaeology of Blaenau Gwent, a free day school at Bedwellty House, 10.30am to 2pm, including an illustrated talk followed by a two-hour field trip to see some of the area’s most notable historic sites. For more information or to book a place, contact Frank Olding.

Books by Fellows: Tradition and Transformation in Anglo-Saxon England

Putting a picture of the Uffington White Horse, a chalk figure of Iron Age origin, on the cover of a book about Anglo-Saxon society tells you something about the argument presented by this book: the intriguing question posed by Fellow Susan Oosthuizen is whether medieval open fields and commons originated in pre-Roman systems of agriculture and landscape management. That is an easy question to frame, and a difficult one to answer; one has to make some sweeping assumptions about whether similarities in landscape form, such as cattle corrals and enclosures, represent continuity or re-invention, but Susan argues that there is much evidence for continuity in other aspects of Iron Age to Anglo-Saxon life, so why not in the management of agricultural resources?

The discussion thus touches on issues of just how far the countryside was Romanised, especially in central and northern England, and on debates that have preoccupied medieval historians for more than one hundred years about the origins of commons, open fields and nucleated villages. Most of all this is a book about customary forms of social organisation and the social values inherent in co-ownership and the collective governance and management of the landscape, values that have long been under attack by those with a selfish interest in imposing written laws and lordly management (values that remain under attack, as a glance at the website of the campaigning Open Spaces Society will confirm).

Susan does not pretend to have answered the question: she says the book presents ‘a proposition that must now be analysed, challenged, confirmed, extended or overturned by later research’. Her proposition is an intriguing and important one and it introduces fresh new ideas into the discussion of how society evolved over the long durée that we call the medieval period — traditionally beginning in the fifth century AD but arguably going back at least to the first century BC, interrupted by the small matter of a Roman invasion that has since blinded many people to some fundamental continuities.

Tradition and Transformation in Anglo-Saxon England: archaeology, common rights and landscape, by Susan Oosthuizen; ISBN 9781472507273; Bloomsbury, 2013

Books by Fellows: Men from the Ministry

Fellow Simon Thurley also likes a challenge: in Men from the Ministry, he set himself the task of turning the archives of the Ministry of Works and its successors (including English Heritage, the body over which he presides as Chief Executive) into a readable institutional history. He has done so by putting forward the idea that the historic properties that English Heritage maintains were not accumulated haphazardly, but result from a policy of creating a representative sample of buildings and monuments that typify important events, institutions and trends in Britain’s prehistory and history — and he does mean Britain, because much of the book is concerned with the period before the four nations that constitute the United Kingdom had their own separate heritage agencies and policies.

The story Simon tells also weaves in and out of the parallel history of the National Trust: it used to be said that the National Trust got all the inhabited properties, with their fine collections of works of art and furnishings, and that the Ministry of Works was the safety net for the unloved roofless ruins that nobody else wanted, but this book tells a different story, of the negotiations that went into the acquisition of such magnificent properties as Audley End, for example.

The resulting property portfolio, ranging from Kit’s Coty House and Stonehenge at one end of the timescale to industrial mills, Napoleonic forts and Cold War bunkers at the other, constitutes what Simon calls the National Heritage Collection, to be regarded as being on a par with the great national collections that fill the British Museum, National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery. Therein lies, one suspects, one of the reasons for writing this book: to persuade the Government that English Heritage should perhaps be treated a little more equitably in the division of state funding. When a cut of 32 per cent was imposed on English Heritage’s budget in October 2010, national museums and galleries suffered a 10 per cent cut, thanks, it is said, to effective lobbying by the museums who told Government that the policy of free entry would be unsustainable if greater cuts were imposed.

The unfairness of that cut is part of the subtext of this book, along with the more explicit argument that Simon makes at the end, where he describes as bewildering the respect afforded to easel paintings by comparison with the built heritage. When a private owner threatens to sell a painting abroad, millions are raised to ‘save’ them, though in reality, the paintings are ‘saved’ only in the loosest sense: ‘nobody was ever going to burn them or hack them to bits’, Simon writes. The very worst that could have happened (for example in the case of the Madonna of the Pinks) is that the work of art would move to a museum in another country. ‘Saving’ works of art is not about safeguarding its physical integrity; it’s about national pride and status.

The historic built environment demands parity of esteem, Simon argues, and he ends the book by putting the case for tax relief in return for public access to help the owners of historic property to meet their maintenance costs. The two are intimately linked: many recent sales of works of art have been the result of the owners of great houses selling in order to undertake much-needed building repairs. Giving tax relief to owners could staunch those art sales and enable the paintings to stay on public show without the need for multi-million pound fund-raising campaigns.

Men from the Ministry: how Britain saved its heritage, by Simon Thurley; ISBN 9780300195729; Yale, 2013

Books by Fellows: William Morris Textiles

A potential best-seller for the Kelmscott Manor shop, this book by Fellow Linda Parry provides a comprehensive account of Morris’s textile designing and making career, from his first naive and clumsy experiments (his very first foray into the textile arts, ‘If I Can’, now hangs in the Green Room at Kelmscott Manor; we also have his first ever tapestry, ‘Cabbage and Vine’, which Morris wove on a loom that he set up in his bedroom at the Manor) to the richly coloured and beautifully worked tapestries, carpets and hangings that are now on display in such museums as the Victoria and Albert, the New York Met and the Detroit Institute of Arts (or indeed, the Willaim Morris Gallery in Walthamstow: see above)..

This is not just a book about William Morris, however: Linda gives May Morris the credit she is due for her crucial role in the management of her father’s company and for her own very influential designs, books, articles and teaching manuals. Then there is the important partnership with Thomas Wardle, one that enabled Morris to master the technicalities of dyeing and printing and weaving, and with the various gifted artists that Morris worked with, not the least of whom was the brilliant draughtsman and designer, Edward Burne-Jones.

If many other people shared with Morris the work of creating bespoke and mass-market furnishings, Morris must take the credit for the revival in craft textiles that lives on to this day and over which he laboured long and hard: this book tells us in detail of the hours that Morris spent in teaching himself different textile techniques using manuals written in French or Venetian dialect and the days he spent in the V&A studying historic textiles from Italy, Persia, Turkey and India. The range of skills that he mastered, and that he inspired others to master, is astonishing, but once he had done so, he was prolific, as page after page of this book demonstrates through faithfully reproduced examples of his colourful work, along with black-and-white archive illustrations of the Merton Abbey works, of the Morris & Co shops, or of his textiles in situ in the interiors for which they were designed (including the first-class accommodation of Orient Line ships plying between England and Australia).

William Morris Textiles, by Linda Parry; ISBN 9781851777327; V&A Publishing, 2013

Books by Fellows: Carvings, Casts and Collectors: the art of Renaissance sculpture

Edited by our Fellow Peta Motture, Emma Jones and Dimitrios Zikos, this book comprises papers presented at a conference held at the V&A in 2010, held in honour and in memory of the late Robert H Smith who sponsored a major part of the V&A’s spectacular new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. The V&A, one learns from the book’s introduction, has the most extensive collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy, as well as the facsimiles in the Cast Court and exceptional work by northern European and Spanish sculptors of the period. Many of the illustrations are thus drawn from the V&A collections, but this does not mean that the focus of the book is narrow: it ranges from a consideration of the wonderfully naturalistic flowers and leaves that Ghiberti designed for the framing jambs for the renowned Baptistery ‘Gates of Paradise’ in Florence (the original jambs remain in situ and are rarely noticed by the crowds who gather to gaze at what they think are Ghiberti’s bronze door panels, but which are actually resin copies) to the radical leap in Renaissance art from sacred portraiture depicting idealised saints and virgins to the secular portrait, the depiction of real people and psychological states of mind.

Workshop practice is explored, and especially family workshops, specialising in some specialist branch of sculpture or bronze casting, whether it be tabernacles, or portrait busts or medallions or brass monuments. Different approaches to the study of sculpture are represented, including the promising avenue of non-destructive metal analysis, and several papers look in detail at specific works and the philosophical and spiritual meanings they embody. The book, in other words, not only introduces us to some very fine works of art, beautifully photographed and reproduced, it also serves as a conspectus of the many ways in which art is currently studied in museums and research institutes around the world.

Carvings, Casts and Collectors: the art of Renaissance sculpture, edited by Peta Motture, Emma Jones and Dimitrios Zikos; ISBN 9781851776405; V&A Publishing, 2013

Books by Fellows: A Dynasty of Dealers: John Smith and successors1801―1924

This study of the market for Dutch and Flemish pictures in nineteenth-century London has been written by our Fellow Charles Sebag-Montefiore with Julia Armstrong-Totten and published to the high standards that one expects of the Roxburghe Club, bound in full buckram by Ludlow Bookbinders in Shropshire (a copy has been donated to the Society’s library, where it can be seen by anyone interested in buying one of the limited edition of 250 copies).

Smith was the author of the pioneering Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, substantial volumes covering forty-one artists, published between 1829 and 1842. For around seventy years, he and his firm were the leading London dealers in such works, including pictures by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens, some of which are now in the National Galleries in London, Edinburgh and Washington DC, and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Among his clients Smith counted the Prince Regent (later George IV), the Duke of Wellington, Lords Bute, Lansdowne and Northwick, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Charles Bagot, Ralph Bernal and William Beckford, as well as members of the Baring, Hope and Rothschild banking families. He also had curatorial responsibility for Lord Ellesmere’s celebrated collection of pictures at Bridgewater House, St James’s, a role that lasted for three generations, and a lesser role for Lord Ashburton’s collection at Bath House, Piccadilly, which lasted as many.

The authors have based their book on 564 hitherto unpublished letters exchanged between John Smith, his sons and their customers, and on the firm’s business books, which are now located in the Victoria and Albert Museum. These provide an insight into Smith’s relations with his customers and with other contemporary dealers practising in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, and information on the sources of supply and details of the mark-ups and profits. As our Fellow Nicholas Penny writes in the book’s Foreword: ‘the authors provide a learned and sympathetic commentary on the letters, bring us close to the business ― often, indeed, following it on an almost daily basis ― and not only illuminate aspects of the commercial history of the art market but also of social history: the Smiths’ houses, holidays and problems with servants and John Smith’s marital arrangements, which were very curious, even by the standards of today!’

A Dynasty of Dealers: John Smith and successors1801―1924, by Charles Sebag-Montefiore with Julia Armstrong-Totten, ISBN 9781901902105, is available from our Fellow Robert Harding of Maggs Bros Ltd or Thomas Heneage of Thomas Heneage Art Books at a cost of £250; a prospectus will be sent on request.

Books by Fellows: Riot and Revolution: Sir Robert Geffery 1613―1704

Here is another splendid biography of a man come to London who made good: Robert Geffery rose from his beginnings in a modest Cornish village to great wealth, was appointed Lord Mayor in 1685 and lived to the age of ninety, witnessing civil war, plague, the Great Fire, anti-Catholic riots, the Dutch Wars and the Glorious Revolution. As a childless widower with no heirs, he bequeathed his wealth to the founding of a school in Landrake, his Cornish birthplace, and to the Ironmongers’ Company who founded the almshouses in Shoreditch that were sold to the London County Council in 1914, and that now bear his name as the home of the Geffrye Museum.

As the name of the museum reveals, part of the challenge of writing this 400th-anniversary biography, a task performed superbly by our Fellow Penelope Hunting, is that there are no less than eight variant spellings of his name, and previous biographers have confused him with various other Lord Chancellors and Aldermen with the same or similar names. From the little that is known of his early life, the author has identified a number of Cornishmen established in London who might have helped the young Geffery obtain an apprenticeship with the Ironmongers’ Company in the City, where he acquired a knowledge of the trade in cutlery, locks, hinges, tools, rods, screws and nails at a time of a shortage of good-quality iron and of rising prices. Lively and vivid portraits of the London of Geffery’s day fill the book, with contemporary maps and engravings to illustrate the areas of London in which he lived and worked. As one of many suppliers of anchors, chains and ironmongery to His Majesty’s Fleet, Geffery came into contact with Samuel Pepys, Clerk to the Navy Board, who described Geffery as ‘a merry man ... he made all the mirth in the company’. Pepys clearly enjoyed dining with Geffery, for ‘exceeding merry we were, and so home by barge again ... having drunk a great deal of wine’.

Geffery established a reputation for honesty as well as for sociability, and both must have eased his entry to circles where he was drawn into membership of the Levant Company and began to trade in a great range of exotic goods, including gold, ivory, sugar, cotton, carpets and ― above all ― in currants and wine, which seem to have been the basis of his initial fortune, which he then diversified into investments in East India trade and the Royal Africa Company, leading to knighthood and public service as Alderman and Mayor. At this point, Geffery is found on the public stage in a very prominent role, his mayoral year dogged by anti-Catholic riots and the fear of domination by foreign powers, personally torn between his own staunch Anglicanism and his duty to the Catholic King James II, forced to subdue uprisings with which he probably had much sympathy and summoned to hear the testimony of the Queen, her midwife and attendants as to the legitimacy of James Francis Edward Stuart as the rightful heir to the throne even as the fleet of Prince William of Orange was preparing to set sail from Holland.

Thus Geffery’s story weaves in and out of the great events of his day, which Penny Hunting brings vividly to life; he was a product of his age, when people with the right connections could make fortunes from an increasingly globalised trade, Fewer, though, used their money as selflessly as he did, as patron in his lifetime of the Bridewell and Bethlem Hospitals and through his bequests to Landrake parish and (via the Ironmongers’ Company) to Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, where his polychrome effigy (in replica) now greets visitors to the Geffrye Museum.

Riot and Revolution: Sir Robert Geffery 1613―1704, by Penelope Hunting; ISBN 9781872828145; Geffrye Museum, £15 from the museum shop, or £19 with p&p ordered by email

Books by Fellows: A History of Ireland in 100 Objects

Treading in the path pioneered by the British Museum, this book ― based on the collections of a number of Ireland’s national museums and libraries ― aims to tell, if not the story of the world, the story of a part of it that has made an impact out of all proportion to its size. Many of the contributions were written by our Fellows Mary Cahill and Raghnall Ó Floinn, under the editorship of Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times.

The book opens with the remains of a Mesolithic fish trap from a bog at Clowanstown, Co. Meath, and it ends with the slightly menacing image of a de-commissioned AK47 rifle, one of many supplied by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to the IRA in the 1980s, and the cause of at least 3,600 deaths. This is not, then, a book that glosses over the difficult times in Ireland’s history. Object no. 99, for example, refers to another less than happy event of the recent past: it is the metal logo (whose design was based on a flint arrowhead) of the bankrupt Anglo-Irish Bank, now in the Decorative Arts and History section of the National Museum of Ireland, having been removed from the bank’s headquarters building on St Stephen’s Green.

That logo is a reminder that we don’t always know the entire story behind the seemingly innocent symbols of power that fill the book’s early pages: mace heads and gold lunulae, torcs and gorgets, the bronze trumpet from Loughnashade, the cauldron from Castlederg ― just how many of these objects that we tend to admire when seen in museum cases are really the possessions and trophies of people whose power was based on violence and intimidation? Astonishing bog bodies, such as the one found in Old Croghan, Co. Offaly, show that this young healthy well-fed man died by being stabbed in the chest and neck before being decapitated, cut in half and placed in a bog.

And so the book takes us on an emotional journey through Ireland’s turbulent history via such objuects as St Patrick’s Confessio, Ireland’s oldest surviving piece of prose writing, dating from c AD 460―90, some late sixth-century AD wax tablets incised with the words of Psalms 30 and 31, gorgeous enamelled brooches of the same century, swords, crucifixes and slave chains, poignant reminders of life’s harsher sides, an emigrant’s suitcase, a traveller’s teapot, an empty famine-era cooking pot, and a threatening letter sent to a landlord and signed by ‘Captain Rock’ as part of the campaign of arson, beatings and murder against landowners and agents in the 1820s to 40s, as people fought back violently against the imposition of unaffordable tithes and rising rents.

This account gives the impression that this is a depressing book, but it is not ― rather it is an honest, open-eyed, balanced and informative account of Ireland’s history that is far more effective for that than a book would be that simply celebrated the pretty things.

A History of Ireland in 100 Objects, edited by Fintan O’Toole; ISBN 9781908996152; Royal Irish Academy, 2013

Books by Fellows: Funerary Monuments and Memorials in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

In the 'Buildings of Ireland' volume devoted to South Ulster that was published just last month, two pages are devoted to the monuments in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, enough to whet your appetite and indicate that this is an exceptional collection of work by some of the best eighteenth-century practitioners of funerary art (Bacon, Chantrey, Farrell, Marochetti, Nollekens, Roubiliac, Rysbrack, and others). Helpfully, our Fellow James Stevens Curl has now published a much-expanded and copiously illustrated account of these same monments.His book begins with a short history of the building’s fabric, a clear plan showing the locations of the monuments discussed, and then a series of chapters that guide us round the parts of the cathedral, with full accounts of each monument, its inscription, biographies of the deceased, a discussion of its design and its sculptural authorship and, best of all, the sort of witty Johnsonian asides that we have come to expect from Professor Curl’s books (such as his entertaining Oxford Dictionary of Architecture).

To give but one example, he begins his Preface with a quotation from Philip Guedalla’s The Missing Muse (1929): ‘the preface is the most important part of the book. Even reviewers read a preface’! True enough; this reviewer did indeed read it and enjoyed its polemical tone, chastising the denizens of ‘so-called universities’ for their ‘dangerously active pusillanimity’, taking the media to task for turning death into a form of entertainment, ‘whipping up mawkish mass hysteria’, granting ‘bogus beatification’ on those they favour. This does, of course, have a serious underlying purpose, which is to encourage us to look with fresh eyes on the funerary art of the past, with its complex mesh of architectural symbolism, its poetic epitaphs and its allegorical figures (he points out that many of the monuments in this book are ‘completely devoid of Christian symbolism’ and instead ‘flaunt braggart heathen allegories’).

For all these reasons, it would be a mistake to assume that this is a ‘guidebook’ of interest only to people who travel to Armagh: on the contrary, it is a book about how to ‘read’ the monuments that we find in every church and cathedral. True, not every church has a monument as magnificent as Armagh’s statue of the physician Sir Thomas Molyneux (1661―1733), carved by Roubiliac and set on a pedestal carved with low-relief scenes of Molyneux in the guise of Aesculapius, visiting a patient; but the book also points out the lesser monuments: even commonplace cast and incised brass tablets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries become objects of interest the way James describes them.

Funerary Monuments and Memorials in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, by James Stevens Curl; published as a softback edition (ISBN 9781905286485) or as a limited hardback edition of 250 numbered and signed copies (ISBN 9781905286492); Historical Publications Ltd; order details can be found on James Stevens Curl’s website

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