Christmas in Dumbarton Oaks

I am prompted by comments on my blog about Anthony Bryer to say slightly more about the Christmas we spent with him in the Fellow’s apartment at Dumbarton Oaks.   We were the only people there and so had the run of the house, library and garden.   He had assumed that Romilly, who was with me, was a man because the well known Byzantinist Romilly Jenkins was male and was pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise.   We had what my family would describe as a very Bryer-ish time (this was to capture the element of the zany), attending midnight mass at a church on Massachusetts Avenue and then taking a shortcut back across the grounds of the British Embassy and, on Boxing Day, having a drink in a bar on Wisconsin Avenue where Bryer was totally oblivious to the fact that it was striptease joint.   He then shipped us off to friends of his in Virginia who had a private aerodrome. 

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2 thoughts on “Christmas in Dumbarton Oaks

  1. Andrew Wilson says:

    We too once had a memorable Christmas with the wonderful Bryers, only this was in snow-bound Birmingham. Much was eaten and drunk. After one such meal, he remembered he had promised to water a neighbour’s plants. He said I’d enjoy the neighbour’s house. This was indeed the case, since almost every wall was heavy with watercolours by Eric Ravilious – I think the house belonged to Ravilious’s daughter. Bryer had just been to the (still Communist) Albania with colleagues from the university in pursuit of the all-but-obliterated Byzantine remains. The border-guards were highly suspicious of him, believing that, because he was heavily bearded, he must be a priest. They insisted upon shaving part of his beard. Bryer took particular delight in the fact that one of the English party, smooth-cheeked and secular in appearance, was in fact a Jesuit . Your cousin Liz, Charles, one of the great beauties of the age, was a long-suffering wife – in the sense that Bryer’s non-stop talking and his zest for cramming the house with new and old friends rather resembled the exasperating behaviour of Guy Pringle in the Olivia Manning novels; in another sense, not suffering at all, since she loved him dearly and it was a great love match.

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