Edward Thomas Stevens

There was a fine photograph of Edward Thomas Stevens in the Salisbury Museum. He is described as ‘the first Honorary Curator of the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and Blackmore Museum’:-

This pricked my interest, even more so when in the next room, I saw a picture of William Blackmore, Stevens’s brother-in-law, who was the founder of the Blackmore Museum:-

Blackmore was a solicitor, whose family were drapers in Salisbury. He moved to Liverpool and then London, where he made a fortune through land speculation and providing venture capital in the United States. In 1863, he visited the States and became fascinated by the ‘Red Man’, buying an extensive collection of Native American archaeological remains for which he constructed his own museum in St. Ann Street, and commissioning photographers to document Native Americans:-

It was closed in 1929 and the collections distributed between the Smithsonian, Birmingham and the British Museum.


Salisbury Cathedral (2)

Inside, I was pleased to be allowed to take photographs:-

There is a fine tomb to Lord Wyndham by Michael Rysbrack:-

A monument to Edward Wyndham Tennant, known as Bim, killed in the battle of the Somme, done by Allan Wyon:-

The Morning Chapel has what was the original screen until it was moved in 1789. It has the remains of colouring on the carvings:-

And the alabaster tomb of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, is spectacular, done apparently by William Wright in 1675. Was it done in a deliberately archaic style, more than fifty years after his death ?


Salisbury Cathedral (1)

The Cathedral looks, if anything, better on a misty February day, seen first from across the Close:-

Then, a misty presence across fields:-

I tried to work out the statuary of the west front, which of it is fourteenth century and which of it Victorian. I assume these two are Victorian – definitely the second (by James Redfern):-

SS Cosmas and Damian are also Victorian:-

I guess the gargoyles are medieval:-

I paid my respects to my parents’ grave:-

And then went through to the cloister:-



I came to Salisbury to talk in the Cathedral, but took the opportunity of walking through the post-Novichok city and enjoying the fine early eighteenth-century houses in the Cathedral Close.

I started down Fisherton Street where the gaol was in the foot of the Victorian clock tower:-

Steynings in Crane Street is suffering from decay:-

Through into the Close, past the College of Matrons, founded by Seth Ward when Bishop of Salisbury in 1683:-

Mompesson House, built for Sir Thomas Mompesson, the MP for Salisbury, was closed:-

Arundells, where Ted Heath lived, was also closed (it looks as if I had too much sherry for lunch):-

Myles Place (1718), an amazingly grand piece of English baroque:-

And the Walton Canonry next door:-


Conservation Philosophy (1)

I spent the morning being grilled about the conservation philosophy behind the restoration of our house. It was built by a building contractor in 1741. In the 1870s, it was turned into a carriage works, so that it was possible to drive through the middle. When it was bought by the Spitalfields Trust for £1 in 1998 (actually 50p. because they got two for a £1), the idea was to preserve it and retain its character, doing as little as possible to disturb the archaeological remains of an eighteenth-century house which had been much messed about, but, because it hadn’t been lived in for over a hundred years, had escaped any modernising improvement, unlike any of its equivalents in West London. It’s a version of the founding philosophy of the SPAB, but with the difference that, in the treatment of the interiors as opposed to the fabric of the building, we didn’t want to be too precious, or too historical, or antiquarian, about its contents, but to create an organic mixture of old and new.

Anyway, I thought it looked good in the morning sun:-


Calouste Gulbenkian

I went to a surprisingly select gathering of scholars and academics to celebrate the publication of Jonathan Conlin’s admirably thorough biography of Calouste Gulbenkian, the enormously wealthy Armenian oil magnate who Kenneth Clark persuaded to lend many of his best paintings to the National Gallery in the 1930s and was going to build and endow a neoclassical building to house his works of art (his ‘harem’ as he apparently described them) on the site now occupied by the Sainsbury Wing.

But the government briefly interned him during the war and Philip Hendy, the postwar socialist Director, had no interest in courting a wealthy and by then somewhat reclusive collector living in a hotel in Lisbon (John Walker, the Director of the National Gallery in Washington did, but failed). So, the collection went to its beautiful building in the northern outskirts of Lisbon and the bulk of the estate went to the establishment of the Gulbenkian Foundation as more Portuguese than international.


Weave Project

I called in this evening on Anya Hindmarch’s Weave Project, partly because she always does something interesting for London Fashion Week, and partly because I was intrigued by the idea of an art/fashion installation in the Brewer Street car park, which turns out to be an unexpectedly well preserved industrial space, designed by J.J. Joass, the third earliest car park with ramps, opened in 1929 as the Lex Garage.

Anya Hindmarch has converted the top floor into a performance space for an art collective called Numen/For Use:-



Over the weekend, I have been reading Andrew Hill’s new book Ruskinland, which has been published by Pallas Athene to mark the bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth on 8 February 1819 and to make his ideas and writings more relevant and readable to the twenty first century than the 39 volumes of Cook and Wedderburn’s commemorative volumes, which effectively embalmed him.

Hill does a good job of resurrecting him: as a critic, for championing Turner in the five volumes of Modern Painters; as a teacher of drawing for his teaching of close observation in The Elements of Drawing and foundation of the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (now abbreviated to the Ruskin School of Art); and for his deep and passionate love of nature. In a lecture in Oxford in 1872, he described how ‘The beginning of all my own right art work in life depended not on my love of art, but of mountains and the sea’.