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Salon: Issue 333
5 January 2015

Next issue: 19 January 2015

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

New Year Honours 2015

Congratulations to those Fellows whose achievements have been recognised in the 2015 New Year Honours List.

CBE: Professor Graeme William Walter Barker, FBA, formerly Disney Professor of Archaeology and Director, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, for services to archaeology; Sarah Elizabeth Staniforth, formerly Museums and Collections Director, National Trust, for services to national heritage.

OBE: Diana Carolyn Beattie, Director, Heritage of London Trust, for services to heritage in London.

MBE: Professor Barbara Ann English, for services to heritage and to the community in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire.

MVO: Dr Martin David Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings, Royal Library, Windsor Castle.

Museum Accreditation status

The Society has been successful in renewing its full Accreditation status for the museum collections at Burlington House and Kelmscott Manor. Achieving Accreditation demonstrates that the Society meets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK; museums participating in the Accreditation scheme, administered by Arts Council England, are asked to provide evidence every three years that they continue to comply with Accreditation standards. As these are constantly being revised and updated, a great deal of hard work has gone into complying with the scheme, including the writing of new policy documents for Collections Development, Care and Conservation, Documentation and Human Remains as well as the Museum Collection Forward Plan. These key policy documents are now available to download on the Society’s ‘Museum Policies’ web page.

Forthcoming ordinary meetings

The January edition of Fellowship News and the spring meeting cards will be posted to Fellows in the first week of January. Unless stated otherwise, tea is served from 4.15pm and meetings start at 5pm. Guests are welcome if accompanied by a Fellow.

29 January 2015: ‘The Thames Tunnel: Brunel’s first project’, by Robert Hulse, Director of The Brunel Museum

Brunel’s first project, the Thames Tunnel, built between 1825 and 1843 to connect Rotherhithe and Wapping, was the first tunnel constructed beneath a navigable river. It was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages, but it paved the way for underground transport systems all over the world, and now forms part of the London overground railway network.

5 February 2015: ‘Britain’s medieval episcopal thrones’, by Charles Tracy, FSA, and Andrew Budge

This lecture will principally focus on the early fourteenth-century timber throne at Exeter Cathedral and the two stone thrones at Wells and Durham. The Exeter throne is the largest and most impressive in Europe. It is a distinguished and early example of the English Decorated style and it exemplifies most of the historical and formal strands that characterise medieval episcopal thrones generally in terms of visual appearance, distinctiveness within the building, prestige, construction, stylistic context, finance and the patronage and personal role of the bishop himself; as well as the subtler issues of the individual and collective politics of bishop and chapter, the throne’s liturgical role, its relationship with the cathedral’s relics (where applicable), its symbolism and what it tells us about the aspirations of the institution within the existing ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Forthcoming public meetings

Public meetings are from 1pm to 2pm on Tuesdays. These meetings are very popular, so advance booking is advised to be sure of a place.

13 January 2015: ‘Maya art and Maya kingship’, by Norman Hammond, FSA

Norman’s lecture will focus on Mayan archaeology and art history based on his work in the Maya lowlands, with interdisciplinary projects at Lubaantun (1970―1), Nohmul (1973―86), Cuello (1975―93) and, most recently, La Milpa (1992―2002), a large Classic period (AD 250―900) city in north-western Belize.

10 February 2015: ‘Monuments of the Incas’, by John Hemming, FSA

John Hemming will speak about some of the work illustrated in his latest book relating to new research into Incan architecture, particularly focusing on Inca masonry techniques, new thinking about the functions of Incan sites, and developments in the discovery, excavation and conservation of Incan ruins. John Hemming has been awarded Peru’s two highest honours: Gran Oficial de El Sol del Peru (South America’s oldest order of chivalry) and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit.

Recovery of stolen church artefacts

Some good news to end / start the year: six carvings stolen from various churches in the last few years (and reported as missing in Salon) have been recovered by the police in Bromley, Kent, to the delight of their parish communities. They include medieval stone-carved effigies from Foy and Abbey Dore, both in Herefordshire, a medieval alabaster panel stolen from the altar retable at Drayton, Oxfordshire, in about 2012 and another alabaster carving stolen from Kinwarton, Warwickshire, also in 2012. The police are continuing their enquiries.

Winchester Cathedral’s hunt for stolen Bible pages

Fellow Martin Biddle is not alone in seeking to track down missing antiquities from Winchester. The cathedral has announced that it would dearly like to know the current whereabouts of eight illuminated pages from the twelfth-century Winchester Bible that were stolen at various times over the last 150 years and might thus survive unrecognised in somebody’s collection. Fellow Christopher de Hamel describes the Winchester Bible, commissioned in 1160 but never finished, as ‘the finest English illuminated manuscript outside the British Library’.

According to The Art Newspaper, one would-be thief offered a bribe to an indignant verger to look away while he removed ‘a souvenir’ from the Bible; on this occasion, the theft was thwarted, but another thief wrote anonymously on 16 August 1927 to Francis Madge, then the cathedral’s librarian, to boast of having removed an illuminated letter ‘S’ from the prologue to the Book of Joel.

The Bible is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In the exhibition catalogue, Roland Riem, the cathedral’s Vice-Dean, appeals for help to trace the eight missing initials: ‘E’, ‘H’, ‘P’, ‘S’ and ‘O’ (two initials, one cut in a circular form), plus an illumination of Jonah, probably emerging from the whale, and one more unknown initial.

The book’s double-page frontispiece was also removed, possibly when the volume was re-bound in 1820. That frontispiece was once owned by a Florentine book dealer, who offered it for £100 to William Morris, but he was not, at the time, able to afford it; instead, it was bought by John Pierpont Morgan in 1912, and it remains in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, although it has been lent to the Met for the special exhibition, The Winchester Bible: a masterpiece of medieval art (on until 9 March 2015).

An Irish manuscript heading for home

One bound volume of manuscripts that is returning ‘home’, so to speak, was described in Christie’s auction catalogue for 19 November 2014 as a ‘Sammelband of secular texts, including Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Historia Regum Britanniae” and “Prophetiae Merlini” and Gerald of Wales’s “Topographia Hibernica” and “Expugnatio Hibernica”, in Latin and Anglo-Norman French’. Apparently, a ‘sammelband’ is a volume of separately printed works in one binding; in this case, the work is an assemblage of manuscripts on vellum created at St Mary’s Abbey, Dublin, in the first quarter of the fourteenth century, so it is appropriate that Trinity College Library, in Dublin, was the successful bidder.

Annotations and book plates record its subsequent history: Redmond O’Gallagher (d 1601), Bishop of Killalla, owned it from 1545, then Edward Buggin (d 1590) of Clerkenwell. Next it passed to James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough (c 1552―1629), one of the four founders of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries; his is the binding and its armorial stamp. Lewis Morris (1701―65) of Cardiganshire, poet, scholar and patriotic Welshman, bought it from the bookseller Thomas Osborn (1704―67) in July 1753: his inscription and list of contents is on folio 2. The next owner, from 1773, was our Fellow the Revd Treadway Russell Nash (1724―1811), of Bevere, near Worcester, author of Collections for the History of Worcestershire. Finally, it was acquired by John Somers Cocks, 1st Earl Somers (1760―1841), and his descendants. Such a well-travelled book surely deserves a biography in its own right.

George III archive digitisation plans

Fellows Peter Barber, Head of Map Collections at the British Library, and Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings at Royal Collection Trust, were heard on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on 18 December 2014 launching an appeal for funds to catalogue and digitise the King’s Topographical Collection. The king in this case was George III, and the collection was described by Peter Barber as ‘a tremendous surprise and a tremendous resource for people throughout the world’.

It consists of more than 60,000 maps, views and watercolours dating from the period 1760 to 1820, including some of the earliest views of Canada, created on birch bark, the first known watercolours of Sydney to be painted by a professional artist, a map of New York that was presented to the Duke of York to celebrate the city's capture by the English from the Dutch in 1664 and a number of highly sensitive and secret government documents describing English fortifications around the world. These ‘should not have been in the king’s possession’, Peter said. George III was apparently in the habit of keeping for himself any documents sent to him for approval that he found interesting: ‘the collection is thus a key to understanding how George III interpreted kingship’.

One item in the collection that attracted particular attention was a plan drawn on the back of an order of service from St George’s Chapel in Windsor, found tucked inside a volume about the palaces of Hanover in Germany. Martin Clayton said the style was very similar to many other ‘scribbled architectural plans made by the King around 1788 or 1789’. The plan was probably a study for the re-development of The White House at Kew. Contemporaries reported that the king spent a good deal of time drawing plans somewhat maniacally for rebuilding the house, while recovering from his first serious illness.

Peter Barber said the drawing was ‘not an ordered plan’. Some of the rooms have no doors at all, and there is no way of getting from one room to the next. The grand central courtyard has no obvious means of access and is surrounded by no fewer than four monumental staircases, which, said Peter, was ‘perhaps a little excessive, even for a baroque monarch’.

The Meroë head of Augustus: Africa defies Rome

On display until 15 February 2015 in the Asahi Shimbun room at the British Museum (to the right as you enter by the front door), the Meroë Head is an important surviving portrait of Rome’s first emperor. The head is unusual in retaining its original inlaid eyes, providing insights into ancient craftsmanship as well as capturing Augustus’s arresting gaze, a quality noted in Roman literary sources.

The head owes its survival to an army of the ancient African kingdom of Kush (in modern Sudan), who destroyed and looted a statue of Augustus and buried the head beneath the steps of a victory shrine in the Kushite capital of Meroë — whoever entered thus ritually trampled the decapitated head of the ruler of the Roman Empire.

The head was excavated at Meroë in 1910 by a team led by Professor John Garstang of Liverpool University. The discovery attracted international attention. Lord Kitchener, who had been touring the Sudan, arrived to see the find for himself, accompanied by the Governor-General, Sir Francis Reginald Wingate. Rarely seen photographs of the original excavation are being shown alongside the head, as well as modern photographs illustrating how, like Augustus, leaders today use portraiture to manipulate and control their public image and how, in a case of history repeating itself, Saddam Hussein once had a floor mosaic of George Bush Senior installed at the entrance of the Al-Rashid hotel in Baghdad so that all visitors (including western politicians and businessmen) had to walk over the face of the American President.

Fellow Thorsten Opper will give a free talk on the head on 15 January 2015 in the Asahi Shimbun room from 1.15pm to 2pm; booking not required.

A history of the National Heritage Collection

English Heritage has published a series of eight free reports, which together tell the story of heritage protection in the UK from 1882 to 1983. It is, in effect, an extension of the story told by our Fellow Simon Thurley, English Heritage Chief Executive, in his Yale book, Men from the Ministry: how Britain saved its heritage (2013), looking in greater depth at the detail of government policy, practice and legislation. In particular the series focuses on the questions of how and why the state accumulated some 420 historic buildings and sites in England, to be repaired, protected and opened to the public ― the English Heritage portfolio of historic properties or, as we are now encouraged to think of it, the ‘National Heritage Collection’. Not surprisingly, our Society and its Fellows are very much part of the story.

Monuments to antiquaries

Philip Whittemore was inspired while walking his dogs to remember quite a few more churches that have monuments to Fellows and antiquaries. Quite an interesting itinerary could be created, starting at the family grave in Nunhead Cemetery, in south London, of John Green Waller, FSA (1813—1905), one of the foremost antiquaries of the Victorian era and co-founder of the British Archaeological Association in 1844. With his brother Lionel he published a series of engravings between 1840 and 1864 illustrating monumental brasses from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Based on his detailed knowledge of medieval brasses, he turned his artistic talents to designing contemporary memorial brasses and stained-glass windows for various churches, including the brass that commemorates John Gough Nichols, FSA (1806—73), at Holmwood, Surrey (see W Lack and P Whittemore, A Series of Monumental Brasses, Vol 1, pt 2 (2001), p 11 and pl XX).

Another antiquary of that same era, John Weever (1576—1632), best known for his publication Ancient Funerall Monuments (1631), was buried in his parish church, St James, Clerkenwell, but neither the medieval church nor the memorial survived when St James was rebuilt in 1792. We know about the monument, however, because the verses from it were preserved by Anthony Munday in his 1633 edition of John Stow's Survey of London. A later editor of Stow’s London, John Strype (1643—1737), has a monument in Leyton Church, Essex.

Kentish historian William Lambarde (1536—1601) is buried in the parish church of St Alphege, East Greenwich, but to find his memorial you now have to go to St Nicholas’s Church, Sevenoaks; it was moved there to the Lambarde chapel in 1710. The ODNB says that it was thanks to Lambarde’s ‘Protestant suspicion of monks and their works’ that he went back to such primary sources as Domesday Book and royal charters, in order to write his Perambulation of Kent (1576).

Lambarde’s Perambulation inspired the next generation of antiquaries to undertake similar work, one of whom was the future Sir William Dugdale, FSA (1605—86), whose work on The Antiquities of Warwickshire (1656) was but one publication in a hugely industrious career. Dugdale is commemorated at Shustoke Church, Warwickshire, as is his son, Sir John Dugdale (1628—1700), who followed in his father’s footsteps, succeeding him as Garter King of Arms when Sir William died in February 1686. In fact, so closely were the careers of father and son intertwined that they have often been confused one for the other: Fellows Bernard Nurse and Pamela Tudor-Craig demonstrate conclusively in the Society’s forthcoming Catalogue of Paintings that our portrait (above) inscribed 'Sir William Dugdale' actually depicts Sir John.

Dugdale’s Warwickshire in turn inspired Anthony Wood (1632—95) (or Anthony à Wood as he styled himself after his graduation in 1660) to embark on his great history of the University of Oxford. Fellow Graham Parry characterises him in the ODNB as a difficult character, and reports that ‘it has been suggested that “his notoriously peevish temper” prevented him from being elected a Fellow of Merton'. Nevertheless they did him the honour of erecting a wall monument to him in the college chapel.

Finally, the Cambridge antiquary William Cole (1714—82) has a memorial in St Clement’s Church, Cambridge. The ODNB tells us that Cole compiled many volumes of notes and records but that ‘a disinclination to publish was one of his marked idiosyncrasies. He defended it on the ground that in future others would benefit “who have not had the drudgery to collect, but have all ready to their hands”’. His antiquarian collections are now in the British Library, where they were, for many years ‘routinely consulted and used (not always with acknowledgement) by subsequent historians’.

John Nichols and the county history of Leicestershire 1775―1815

John Gough Nichols, FSA, the printer and antiquary mentioned above, was the grandson of John Nichols, FSA (1745—1826) (shown left), founder of the family printing business, editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine and author of The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, a massive eight-volume work that he finally completed on 14 February 1815. It had taken him more than thirty years and had very nearly ended in disaster when his printing shop and warehouse in Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street, were destroyed by fire in 1808. Contemporary reviews hailed it as ‘a work founded on such stout antiquarian knowledge and research, sound sense, and indefatigable labour that, besides the depth of Leicestershire being explored, there is scarcely a county unmentioned, and whose historians must not reap advantage from it’.

To mark the bicentenary of this monumental achievement, Caroline Wessel and the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society is to publish a celebratory book on 1 February 2015 that will pay tribute to his work and the network of nearly 300 antiquaries across Leicestershire and neighbouring counties who assisted him in the project. Those who have seen advance copies of the book say that it is highly readable, full of evocative illustrations and gentle humour, a must for all historians and antiquaries. Copies can be ordered from Clarendon Books for £9.95 (£11.75 including post and packing) or online.

The book draws upon Fellow Julian Pooley’s Nichols Archive Project, which is providing an analytical guide to the thousands of letters and papers accumulated by the Nichols family over a period of a hundred years from the time of John Nichols to the death of his grandson, John Gough Nichols, in 1873. It includes detailed calendars of their correspondence, full transcripts of their personal diaries and travel journals, studies of their library catalogues and collected papers, an index to those named in their papers and a detailed chronology of their lives, interests and achievements. The resulting database provides an insight into the ways in which Nichols undertook research using mailshots to local clergy and gentry, drawing information from the readership of the Gentleman’s Magazine and sending countless proof sheets to local experts, asking them to correct and augment the text.

You can find out more by going to the Nichols Archive Project pages on the website of the Centre for English Local History at the University of Leicester.

News of Fellows

Fellow Henry Cleere was awarded the prestigious Gazzola Prize at the General Assembly in Florence on 14 November 2014 of ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites). The Gazzola Prize was established in 1979 in memory of Piero Gazzola, one of the founders of ICOMOS. The prize is awarded every three years to an individual or group of people that has contributed with distinction to the aims and objectives of ICOMOS.

Fellow James Stevens Curl was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by De Montfort University, Leicester, in July 2014 for ‘outstanding contributions to the intellectual and cultural life of the nation and region’ and for 'distinctive contributions to the study of architectural history’ (the latter no doubt a reference to the witty and comprehensive Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, the third, much revised edition of which is currently in proof stage and will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2015).

Fellow James Stevens Curl with the Archbishop and Primate of All Ireland (on the right) and the Dean of Armagh (back row left) in Archbishop Robinson’s eighteenth-century library in Armagh
at the launch of Professor Curl's book on the Funerary Monuments & Memorials in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh (2013).

Fellow and Past President Maurice Howard reports that: ‘on Saturday, 13 December 2014, our Fellow (of more than half a century) Rosalys Coope celebrated the publication of her book Newstead Abbey, a Nottinghamshire Country House: its owners and architectural history 1540―1931 at the Mechanics Institute, in Nottingham. This is volume 48 of the Thoroton Record Series. At the age of ninety-three, Dr Coope has completely re-written and updated her many articles from the past thirty-five years in the Thoroton Society Transactions into book form, with the help of Pete Smith as editor and contributor and, alongside, a full-colour survey of the many images of Newstead in past centuries and a new photographic record of the present state of the house by David Wrightson. Rosalys’s achievement is timely since the future of Newstead, in the care of Nottingham City Council since 1931, is at present uncertain, so at least this great scholar has done the house of the Byrons proud.’

On 8 November 2014, more than 100 friends, family and former students gathered to celebrate the eightieth birthday of our Fellow Colin Platt, Emeritus Professor of History of the University of Southampton. The gathering took place in the church of St John the Baptist, Littlehempston, near Totnes, in Devon, where Colin has masterminded the reordering: now with pews on wheels it continues to serve as a church but is equally capable of conversion to a performance space, market place or a delightful place for a party.

Colin was presented with a volume of essays initiated and edited by our Fellow Claire Donovan and typeset, designed and published by Dunstan Baker of Trouser Press. Twenty-six former students contributed essays ― a number of FSAs among them, including Tom Beaumont James, a long-standing former colleague.

Although there was no prescribed theme to the publication, the title, A Fresh Approach, was drawn from a comment on his first book, The Monastic Grange in Medieval England: a reassessment (London, 1969) and from the recurrent sense from the tributes of these former students that Colin’s approach to teaching and to research had always been different both in style and substance. The contributions are varied, and make for a volume described in the preface as ‘quirky and surprising’. Salon readers can order the book at the special offer price of £40 plus £5 p&p from Claire Donovan, The Old Rectory, Littlehempston, Totnes TQ9 6LY.

Fellows Chris Evans and Marie Louise Stig Sørensen played host to Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca, President of the Republic of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), and his twenty-five person entourage in December 2014, at the end of what Chris describes as ‘two madcap but hugely productive weeks starting to dig up the church at Cidade Velha’, the World Heritage Site located in the south of the island of Santiago. The Capela Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception) was first constructed around 1470, and although Madeira has some of the oldest churches and chapels to be built outside the traditional boundaries of Europe, this one can claim to be the earliest in the tropics, built following colonisation of the island by Portuguese explorer António da Noli in 1462.

Chris and Marie Louise and a team of twenty local labourers have managed to remove the considerable amounts of alluvium that wash down to the site from surrounding hills in the rainy season and recover part of the plan of the chapel and its blue, white and yellow azulejos tiles, still in situ on the floors and walls of a polygonal side-chapel and the vestry. Full excavation will be completed during March/April 2015, leaving time for the building’s conservation before the start of the rainy season. The church will be displayed as a ruin, protected by a thatched roof on a timber frame, and will make a significant contribution to the Republic’s all-important tourism industry.

Above: the polygonal side chapel (note the
in-situ azulejos tiles on the walls on either side of the altar and the later grave slab); below: a general view of the site.


Lives remembered: Tony Wilkinson, FSA

Members of the Durham University Department of Archaeology are mourning the loss of their colleague, our Fellow Professor Tony Wilkinson, ‘a true friend to the department and a great archaeologist with many loyal students, past and present’.  Tony had been living with prostate cancer for many years and he spent much of December in hospital dealing with the worsening of his condition. Sadly, after being discharged on Christmas Eve, he passed away peacefully the morning of Christmas Day.

Following Tony's wishes, there will be a private service for his family on 6 January 2015. A larger memorial celebration for friends, colleagues and students will take place in Durham later in January.

Tony’s brief self-portrait, with a list of selected publications, can be viewed on the Durham Department of Archaeology website.

Lives remembered: Hugh Harding, FSA

The Times of Malta has announced the recent death of our Fellow Chief Justice Emeritus Hugh Harding, who has died at the age of eighty-eight. Born in Valletta on 17 October 1925, Hugh Harding was called to the Bar in 1949 and was awarded a Government Travelling Scholarship after coming top of his year; he used the funds to undertake a postgraduate law course in London and he was appointed Lecturer in the History of Legislation at the University of Malta in 1950.

He served as Election Commissioner in the 1962, 1966 and 1971 general elections, and as Independence Referendum Commissioner in 1964. He was appointed Judge in November 1980, sitting in the Criminal and Civil Courts and on the Court of Appeal. He served as Chief Justice from September 1987 until he retired in 1990. In 1991 he was appointed Chairman of the Permanent Law Reform Commission.

The Government of Malta has expressed its condolences to the Harding family and praised the former Chief Justice for his 'seriousness and integrity'. It also praised him for his work as a lawyer assisting shipyard workers before his appointment as a judge. His research into Malta’s legal history resulted in two major works, A History of Roman Law in Malta and Maltese Legal History under British Rule, 1801―36, for which he was elected a Fellow of our Society on 14 January 1971.


Our late Fellow Margaret Aston is warmly remembered by several Fellows: Maurice Howard sums up everyone’s feelings when he said that ‘Margaret did a lot for many of us in Tudor and Reformation history’, while Alison McHardy recollects that ‘she was the very nicest and kindest person you could ever meet. Her lovely letters of encouragement to me when I was a struggling young scholar, and later when I had a “proper” job, were tremendous boosters to my confidence. I have kept them carefully. Her handwriting was very distinctive, and so was her voice.’ A further obituary for Margaret has since been published in the Independent.

Salon has so far reported on threats to university archaeology departments in Russia, Scandinavia and the UK: Vincent Megaw now reports that Saarland University faces losing its chair of prehistory and its department of ancient studies, the Altertumswissenschaften, as part of a programme of budgetary cuts. Professor Rudolf Echt, head of the department and author of the definitive study of the early La Tène ‘princess’s grave’ at Reinheim, is asking anyone who objects to this proposal to ‘write a letter expressing your disappointment to our Minister President, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and to the university’s President, Professor Dr Volker Linneweber telling them how much ability and international reputation Saarland will lose by such an act’.

The picture of Jason Wood holding his National Trust plaque prompted Fellow Peter Salway to comment that ‘Jason is not the only Fellow to be presented with a National Trust omega sign this year: Sir Simon Jenkins was also thus memorialised on completing his term as Chairman of the Trust. And for the aficionados of typology I am attaching another example (left) that dates back a few years. It is interesting to note how the fairly recent changes in house style (“rebranding”, though I hate the word) will become a useful chronological indicator when these objects are dug up by future archaeologists. One speculates, too, what particular burial rite will be deduced!’

Fellow Kris Lockyear said he read with interest ‘the latest Salon piece about the survey work being undertaken at Old Sarum by my friend Tim Sly. I was wondering if the work I have been doing with “community heritage groups” in Hertfordshire (what used to be known as “archaeological societies”!) might also be of interest? We have maintained a project blog; have a look, for example, at the blog posting called “Long time no post”, which has images of the survey work in Verulamium Park, showing about half of the Roman city.’

Finally, on Old Sarum, Fellow Tim Tatton-Brown sent an abstract from his book Salisbury Cathedral: the making of a medieval materpiece (Scala, 2009) to remind us that our Society sponsored major excavations at Old Sarum in 1909―13. These petered out as a consequence of the war, and the results were never fully published because of the death of the director of the excavations, William St John Hope, in 1919 (English Heritage hopes to publish an initial reappraisal of the excavation archive in the near future).

Even so, the excavations were successful in identifying the location and plan of Bishop Osmund’s keep of c 1080, Bishop Jocelyn’s new ‘house’ of c 1150 with its huge great hall (100ft by 60ft), Bishop Roger’s courtyard palace of c 1120 (aka the ‘Royal Palace’ for Henry I) and a later twelfth and thirteenth century great hall, not to mention the plan of the cathedral, cloister, gardens, boundary walls and both lay and canons’ cemeteries, all of which can be seen on the phased plan of the site that can be downloaded from the English Heritage Portico website entry for Old Sarum.

More blog extracts

Fellow David Sekers thought that Fellows might be amused by this posting that he found on the blog site of the New York Review of Books, though, given that it refers to highly questionable ‘restoration’ practices at Chartres Cathedral, perhaps ‘amused’ is not the word: a French version of William Morris seems to be desperately needed in France right now.

Fellow Simon Bradley, joint Editor of the Pevsner Guides, and author of the latest revised volume to be published (Cambridgeshire), writes in his blog about the variety of different First World War memorials to be found in Cambridgeshire churches, from stained-glass windows (such as the window above, in Swaffham Prior church) to the magnificent font cover in Balsham church made over nine years by the rector, the Revd H J E Burrell, who set up woodwork classes so that his parishioners could join him in the task; the counter-weight used to raise the cover is fashioned from a German shell-case. You can also watch a video of Simon talking about some of the more unusual buildings that he discovered during the course of his research for the book, including Pevsner’s own rooms in New Court, St John’s College, and a previously undocumented building by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

Fellow Dora Thornton, Curator of Renaissance Europe at the British Museum, and Janina Parol, Assistant Treasure Registrar, have contributed an article to the British Museum blog site about the collection of medieval and post-medieval toys donated by Thames mudlark Tony Pilson, details of which are now fully accessible via the BM’s Collection Online.

Mother and child at toy stall; engraving after Adriaen van de Venne. Illustration from an unspecified edition of Jacob Cats’ Spiegel vanden Ouden ende Nieuwe Tijd (first edition published in The Hague, 1632) (British Museum 1952,0117.14.13)

Dora suggests that lead alloy dolls, like this late sixteenth-century example, found at Bull’s Wharf, London (British Museum 2009,8020.5), were less expensive versions of the larger dolls made of ceramic and dressed in the latest styles that were imported into England from abroad in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As well as showing these grander dolls for sale at a toy stall at a city fair, the Dutch print of 1632 that Dora uses to illustrate the blog has a motto that perfectly sums up the Protestant commercial ethos: ‘Well set-out is half sold’.

Call for papers: ‘Medieval London and the world’

This seventieth anniversary conference of the London Medieval Society will take place on 1 to 4 May 2015; technically the deadline for submitting proposals for papers, sessions, workshops and round tables has passed (1 January 2015), but perhaps, given the time of year, there will be some leeway. The conference topics include: politics and diplomacy between London and Europe, Asia, Africa or the Americas, international trade, networks, travel and pilgrimage to/from London, cultural interactions, textual culture and literature, playwrights and theatre, medieval urban life, space and place, London and the papacy, mapping and geography, and contributions involving artefacts or manuscripts held in London collections. For further details see the London Medieval Society’s website.


8 January 2015: ‘The EDSAC Replica Project’, by Andrew Herbert, Visiting Professor, Department of Computer Science, UCL, Room G01, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN, at 6pm for 6.15pm.

Designed and built by a team at Cambridge University in 1949, EDSAC was the first electronic computer to provide a scientific computing service; able to undertake larger scale calculations than had previously been possible, EDSAC enabled new approaches to science, contributing directly to three Cambridge scientists winning Nobel prizes. At the end of its life EDSAC was unceremoniously scrapped; all that survived was a few shelves of electronics, photographs and brief accounts contributed to books and journal articles.  

In 2012 the speaker, Andrew Herbert, began a volunteer-led project to build a working reconstruction of EDSAC at Bletchley Park’s National Museum of Computing; he will talk about the challenges of recreating a 2-ton computer using seventy-year-old thermionic valves, as well as speaking more generally about the importance of restored or reconstructed technical artefacts for understanding our engineering heritage.

This is a public lecture and all are welcome; attendance should be confirmed via Eventbrite.

5 March 2015: ‘Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House’, a one-day scholarly conference to encourage fresh thinking about eighteenth-century country houses as environments that were always evolving, animated by interactions between objects and people, to be held in the Sainsbury Wing Lecture Theatre, the National Gallery, organised by the National Gallery, Birkbeck (University of London) and the Paul Mellon Centre.

The conference will look at the ways in which objects, when placed on display within a particular space, entered into different kinds of dialogue with the contents, decoration and associations of that space. It will also explore the ways in which the evolving environment of the country house, and the forms of display found within it, were experienced by those who lived in the house, by those who visited as tourists or invited guests and by those who engaged vicariously through by means of literature related to country houses, including guidebooks, regional guidebooks and periodical articles. For further details, see the conference web page.

Where is this salon?

On the subject of country house environments, Fellow Charles Hind, Chief Curator and H J Heinz Curator of Drawings at the RIBA British Architectural Library, hopes that a Salon reader will be able to identify the room shown in this small drawing.

Charles writes: ‘dated 1826, it comes from a collection of drawings by friends put together in the early nineteenth century by an amateur artist called Lady (Julia) Gordon. It looks (from the depth of the embrasures) as though it is a room in a medieval castle, modernised in the Tudor period (window tracery) and redecorated in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.

'I have racked my brains to think of inhabited medieval castles and have failed to identify this room in any of those with extant interiors of the right date. These include the castles at Chirk, Dunster, Durham, Hornby, Powis, Raby and Warwick. Alnwick and Arundel did not have interiors of the right date and were remodelled in the nineteenth century. Berkeley did have interiors of the right date but these were largely lost in the 1920s and I have not been able to find images. Any help given by Fellows will be greatly appreciated.’

Structure, Measurement and Meaning: studies on prehistoric Cyprus

Fellow Jennifer Webb is the editor of the recently published Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Vol 143, an edition that marks the outstanding contribution made over forty years to the prehistory of Cyprus by Fellow David Frankel, of La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Arranged under three thematic headings (‘Society and process’, ‘Sites and their settings’ and ‘Material and social transformations’), the papers have been written by colleagues from Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Australia, the USA and the UK, many of whom are currently directing excavations on the island. They address issues of significance from the earliest settlement of the island to the role of Cypriot copper in the Iron Age Eastern Mediterranean, with the primary focus on the Bronze Age, with papers on seafaring and seafarers, the history and timing of the Cypriot copper trade, changing political economies and landscapes at ancient Paphos and regional studies and reports on recent discoveries at Kissonerga, Kalavasos, the Dhiarizos Valley, the Skouriotissa mining area and Nicosia.

Other chapters discuss issues of broad significance in the discipline, including the scale and context of pottery production and distribution, metallurgical technology and embodied identity, migration processes, feasting, deposition and site abandonment, the meaning of space and place and processes of community affiliation and social control. Together they offer a cross-section of current work in the field and demonstrate the evolving nature of archaeological explanation within Cypriot prehistory and beyond.

Structure, Measurement and Meaning: studies on prehistoric Cyprus in honour of David Frankel, edited by Jennifer Webb, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Vol 143; ISBN 9789198153514; Åströms Förlag, 2014

Owning the Past

In his review of the best art books of 2014 in the Evening Standard, Brian Sewell lavished warm praise on a number of books written by Fellows. Two of these have only just been published. Fellow Ruth Guilding’s Owning the Past is a book, said Brian, ‘for all who take pleasure in prowling around the great houses of this country, its museums and its galleries. It is for those for whom the names Townley, Blundell, Coke and Egremont conjure the marbles of antiquity. It is for all who have trodden Italy in the steps of those Grand Tourists who stood in wonder at the sculptural treasures of the Vatican ... beautifully illustrated ... this enthralling book has a lifetime’s use ahead as the intelligent wanderer’s companion.’

The book that earned such high praise is subtitled ‘why the English collected antique sculpture 1640―1840’, and Ruth’s answers are refreshingly frank: a few collected sculpture out of genuine connoisseurship, but many more did so for profit, for status, to help them rise a step or two up the social ladder, to demonstrate how wealthy they were, to get one up on a rival collector, or, as Ruth delicately puts it, for deployment as 'high-class objects for titillation', this being almost exclusively a masculine domain, respectable wives being kept well away from statues of priapic satyrs and Venusian torsos.

Each chapter in the book explores these motives for collecting in more detail, and that is what makes the book so readable and enjoyable: this is not just a house-by-house guide to the best collections of antique sculpture in English stately homes: it is a probing enquiry into the psychologies of the collectors, a point that is tellingly made in figure 28, showing one Adolf Hitler standing approvingly alongside the ancient Greek statue of a naked male discuss thrower. Sculpture in this book is not the neutral stuff of museum collections; what would now be described in rather neutral fashion as ‘art treasures’ have been used throughout history as tools of propaganda, props and aids to be used in battles that are essentially about various forms of power, as they were, no doubt, in ancient Greece and Rome (what is the Parthenon if not a statement of Athenian imperialism), and as they have been again ever since the rediscovery of the classical world that we associate with Florence and the Medici. Once you have had your eyes opened to such ideas by this lively and intelligent book, you will not look at country house sculpture again without asking what the sculpture and its presentation tells you about the collector’s personality and motives.

One cannot avoid thinking, too, of contemporary parallels for the phenomena that are charted by the book: chapter four, for example, on the art market in the eighteenth century and its mass-produced classical statuary, ridiculed by Thomas Rowlandson in his engraving of ‘A Statuary Yard’, contrasting the svelte figures of classical nudes with the lumpen shapes of the moneyed middle-class buyers, reminds us of the similar statue yards of modern Tuscany, lining the Arno Valley or clustered around the marble-quarrying town of Carrara -- or perhaps even a garden centre on a Saturday afternoon, with its plastic copies of Botticelli's Venus or Giambologna's Mercury gracing an easy-to-instal water feature..

Fellows of our Society played an ambiguous role in this thriving market for botyh fakes and the real thing. Lyde Browne, elected a Fellow in 1752, was, in Ruth’s words, ‘a businessman in antiquary’s clothing ... who plundered the market like a pirate’, buying cheaply in Rome and selling profitably in England, and ‘hawking his recent purchases at meetings of the Society, despite the Fellows’ manifest preferences for axe heads, Roman cloak pins and medieval church fonts’.

Browne stands accused in this book of debasing connoisseurship, treating ‘virtu’ as an investment opportunity, but there are more positive stories too. Ruth asserts that the claims of scholarship are rarely ever completely divorced from vanitas, the pursuit of personal glory, or from the demands of the marketplace (a good debate could be had about that) but she does make something of a damaged hero out of the likes of Fellow Sir Richard Worsley, elected in 1778, owner of a remarkable collection of statues, reliefs and gems, which he arranged at his house at Appuldurcombe and published in a sumptuous catalogue as the Museum Worsleyanum. He and like-minded collectors genuinely believed that antique sculpture offered a key to the classical past and to all history, and that all the remains of antiquity could be classified into a comprehensive system that would unlock all the knowledge of the ancients..

Where do we stand today in relation to the past? For all the professionalisation of art history and conservation and collecting and research and the pretence of objectivity, Ruth concludes that not much is different now, and that ‘the narratives in this book trace a continuum in the pattern of our responses to the classical past, a past that is always an unfinished, ongoing process’. Indeed, every day brings new examples of the use of art in games of power: President Vladimir Putin’s presentation of a Fabergé egg to the Hermitage Museum to mark the institution's 250th anniversary and the loan of the torso of the river god Ilissos by the British Museum to the same museum both took place after the publication of Ruth’s book, but exemplify exactly the sort of exploitation and appropriation of the past for multifarious reasons that her book charts so entertainingly.

Owning the Past: why the English collected antique sculpture 1640―1840, by Ruth Guilding; ISBN 9780300208191; Yale University Press, 2014

George Frederick Bodley

The second of the newly published books that Brian Sewell commended, also published by the saintly people at Yale, is Fellow Michael Hall’s gorgeously produced tribute to the architectural vision of George Frederick Bodley (1827―1907). What higher praise could one wish for than to be described thus: ‘Michael Hall and Yale have combined to give Bodley the magnificent tombstone tome that he deserves, academically disciplined, enthusiastically argued, flatteringly illustrated, merrily readable about his life as well as art, his many pupils and assistants the subject of a useful appendix ... I suspect that this is a great book; it is certainly the surprise of the year.’

A surprise because it is fashionable to ridicule Bodley as ‘an architect remembered only by the most perverse of art history graduates, who think of him as doctoral materia'. This book shows how wrong that judgement is and Michael Hall sets out in his Preface why Bodley is, if not the “most distinguished architect of his time”, at least an architect whose work 'has been enormously influential and whose hand can be seen behind the Gothic image of public school and collegiate architecture’ and whose influence is also evident in the schools and universities of Britain’s empire and America. When the Archbishop of Canterbury preaches in his cathedral, he does so from a Bodley-designed pulpit; when the President of the United States attends services in Washington’s National Cathedral, he does so in a building conceived by Bodley.

The later Gothic Revival, to which Bodley belongs, has been compared unfavourably to the Queen Anne and Aesthetic Movements and to the Arts and Crafts movement that stems back to William Morris and Philip Webb. It has been characterised as backward looking and stylistically static after the dynamism of the mid-nineteenth century. Partly, Michael argues, this is the result of the Whiggish tendency in art historical practice that emphasises change and innovation; partly it is a bias against any historicist architectural style that is rooted in archaeological exactitude ― to the Modernist mind, this is mere copying ― depending to an undue degree on historical models, rather than creative and experimental.

In defence of Bodley, Michael points to the fact that many churches and cathedrals are composites ― an accumulation of work by many hands and of many ages. Bodley's work, by contrast, is a rare example of the Wagnerian ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk (the 'total work of art'); he concerned himself not only with building but also with the furnishings, decorations, vestments and the tools of ritual. He was deeply interested in music and literature, and ‘he understood to an exceptional degree that churches are a fusion of design and decoration with movement, music, and language’. Michael calls this instinctive ability to blend the arts a ‘synaesthesia’, but this is no involuntary affliction; instead, it is the source of Bodley’s creativity, along with his idea that the architect’s job is to create ‘beauty’ ― which in his mind had a specific religious meaning, summed up in the psalmist’s injunction to ‘worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’.

Our secular age is less comfortable with such a concept, but as you admire the images in this book of Bodley’s inspiring buildings, or better still head out to look at the real thing, you may well find yourself one of those people who enter a church to gaze and end up experiencing something that is best described as spiritual, and achieving that through architecure is no mean feat. Entering the lists on Bodley’s behalf (and not neglecting the very important role played by Bodley’s assistant and later business partner, Thomas Garner), Michael Hall leaves us utterly convinced that the neglect of Bodley is a scandal; his book has triumphantly restored to his rightful place an influential visionary of Victorian design.

George Frederick Bodley and the Later Gothic Revival in Britain and America, by Michael Hall; ISBN 9780300208023; Yale University Press, 2014

Romanesque Architecture

Brian Sewell also reviewed this new volume in the Pelican History of Art series by our Past President Eric Fernie. ‘What a book this is’, he wrote: ‘utterly logical in the arrangement of its arguments, packed with maps and photographs, this is the vade mecum for every traveller to whom European architecture, stalwart and astonishing, between ancient Rome and Gothic north, is mysterious and fascinating, from Portugal to Poland, from Scandinavia to Syria and Sicily. It begins in Aachen and the Carolingian state of circa 800, identifies early, middle and late phases until swamped by Gothic five centuries later, touches on matters monastic and secular, political and social — an enthralling cat’s cradle of continuities and confusions that Fernie largely disentangles for the innocent student or amateur. An almost perfect tool of instruction (how I wish I’d had it as a student), it lacks only some wider comment on the mysteries of Armenian architecture, of which there is so much more than the Cathedral of Ani.’

Romanesque Architecture: the first style of the European age, by Eric Fernie; ISBN 9780300203547; Yale University Press, 2014

Medieval Ivory Carvings

Last but not least, Brian Sewell commended Medieval Ivory Carvings, by Fellow Paul Williamson and Glyn Davies, saying ‘it was brave of the V&A to publish this pair of volumes on its collection of ivories at precisely the time when our future William V urged us to consign all ivory carvings to the bonfire. He should have known, as a man who has a degree in the history of art, that those in the V&A and every other museum, centuries old, were carved from what used to be called fossil ivory — the tusks of the myriad elephants that over millennia died natural deaths and remained on and in the ground for the simple picking-up. Hunting the live beasts in Africa was neither necessary nor practical until the later nineteenth century but by then we had wasted too much of the fossil resource on piano keys and billiard balls. As the sculptor’s material, ivory is as old as civilisation; commonplace in medieval Europe, it was perfect for objects of private veneration or gifts between the rich and powerful. The variation in quality of those in the V&A is astonishing — from masterpiece to humdrum workshop artefact (the Embriachi Workshops were precursors to Henry Ford) and deceitful forgery. In this catalogue all are tellingly illustrated in colour to stress the variation in tone of ivory, and in terms of text all are treated with the same dogged respect. We can all learn from such connoisseurship.’

Medieval Ivory Carvings 1200―1500, by Paul Williamson and Glyn Davies; ISBN 9781851778119; V&A Publishing, 2014


Chairman of The Georgian Group
Closing date: 16 January 2015

The role of Chairman of the Georgian Group offers a unique and rewarding opportunity for someone who cares about our Georgian heritage to make a real contribution to its protection and promotion. Working closely with the Secretary and the Executive Committee, he/she will lead a review of the Group’s strategy and will also play a key role in developing a consensus around the governance changes necessary to support it. The main challenges are to increase the Group’s capacity as a campaigning organisation and influencer of public policy, to develop new educational programmes, to manage casework effectively, to attract new donors and to develop new revenue streams.

To apply, please send a CV and covering letter by email to our Fellow Martin Drury. For further information see the Georgian Group’s website.

Society of Antiquaries: Exhibition Officer and Education and Outreach Officer
Salary: £15,290 (both posts); closing date: 19 January 2015 (5pm)

As part of a national programme to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, our Society is staging a special exhibition ― Magna Carta through the Ages ― in the summer of 2015, displaying our three copies of Magna Carta and exploring antiquarian interest in the charter through the centuries and the ways in which Magna Carta has continued to be relevant to successive generations.

Two contract posts have been created as a result. An experienced and highly motivated Exhibition Officer is needed to organise and manage delivery of the exhibition, including co-ordination and development of content, leading on interpretation, managing the installation and the day-to-day management of the exhibition once it opens. The Education and Outreach Officer will develop, co-ordinate and deliver an Education and Outreach Plan and a Learning Activity Plan for schools.

Further details of both posts can be found on the Society’s website.

Society of Antiquaries: Finance Officer
Salary: £25,000 to £30,000, depending on experience; closing date: 1 February 2015

The Society wishes to appoint a Finance Officer to support the Head of Finance and Operations; you will be responsible for financial processes and systems, including purchase ledger, sales invoicing, Fellows’ membership subscriptions, payroll, pensions, posting to the SAGE accounts system and VAT returns. You will also be responsible for the Fellows’ database, including dealing with Fellows’ queries. Full details can be found on the Society’s website.

Propose a lecture or seminar

Please email Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer if you are interested in giving a lecture at one of the Society's Ordinary Meetings (Thursday evenings at 5pm) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 1pm).

We welcome papers based on new research on themes related to the Society's field of interest: the study of the material past.

You can view our current lecture programme in the Events section of our website.

Fellows are also encouraged to propose topics or themes for conferences or seminars that bring scholars and professionals from a variety of disciplines together to explain, discuss and debate our material culture. Please email Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.


Follow the Society of Antiquaries on Twitter for news and event updates: @SocAntiquaries

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