Until today, I knew nothing of Richard Woods, the landscape designer who designed the park at Wormsley in Buckinghamshire and a great number of other gardens, not just round London, including the grounds of Hartwell House, also in Buckinghamshire, where he designed ‘a new Garden Greenhouse and Pinery’, but also in Yorkshire, where he worked at Harewood, and in Wiltshire where he laid out the park round James Paine’s mansion at Wardour in a style that was admired by Capability Brown. He was forgotten because his style, like Brown’s, was naturalistic, but much less well documented.
I had a meeting in Camberwell which meant that I took the Overground to Denmark Hill, a surprisingly grand Victorian station with passing wagon lits:-
I was able to walk through the leafy late Georgian streets of Camberwell Grove, begun in the 1770s and with a few eighteenth-century houses surviving, and the grand terrace at the north end of Grove Lane:-
I only made it to the afternoon session of the academic conference Frenemies: Friendship, Enmity and Rivalry in British Art 1769-2018 (odd that the start date chosen was 1769 and not 1768, as if the first RAs were all friends – definitely not the case – and that it was only in 1769 that differences of opinion and artistic rivalries first surfaced). It was organised by the Paul Mellon Centre alongside the exhibition The Great Spectacle. I heard three papers: Hannah Westley describing and exploring the implications of her interviews of Paul Huxley, John Hoyland and other artists who first came to prominence in the early 1960s; Hammad Nassar who gave a fascinating account of a gallery in Cumbria, which I knew nothing about, but whose proprietor, Li Yuan-chia, had an exhibition co-organised by Mark Jones at Modern Art Oxford in 1972, while Mark was still an undergraduate; and Amy Tobin who is researching and writing about women’s art in the 1970s and 1980s and how and where it was exhibited on both sides of the Atlantic. The purpose of the conference was to describe what were described as ‘affective relationships’. In the concluding session, an anxiety was expressed that this could end up just being a new form of antiquarianism, about people rather than art. I thought that social anthropology gave thick description and the analysis of social networks an intellectual currency long ago and that art history hardly needs to be embarrassed about borrowing its legitimacy as an academic pursuit.
St. Michael, Great Tew is a nearly perfect village church. One enters opposite the late eighteenth-century vicarage by way of an early seventeenth-century stone gateway:-
Then, one sees it from the south-east walking through the churchyard:-
And from the south:-
Inside, there is a tomb of Mary Anne Boulton by Sir Francis Chantrey:-
And the graveyard is overgrown:-
I haven’t been to Great Tew since the late 1960s, when the estate was owned by Major Eustace Robb, who kept it in a state of picturesque decay. A chunk of the estate has now been bought by Nick Jones and converted into an estate hotel, in which guests stay in rustic, sometimes corrugated iron, cabins. I realise I am not supposed to say any of this because it is a social media free zone (although I couldn’t help but notice that everyone was taking photographs). I took only a small number of photographs as a record of a rural idyll:-
This is my obituary of Olivier Bell, written some years ago, but regularly revised. I hope it conveys the full magnificence of her life and character:-