Kerry Downes (3)

Now that I’m back in London, I’ve been looking back at Kerry Downes’s books, following his death on August 11th.

The best account of how Downes came to study Hawksmoor appears in Owen Hopkins’s book, From the Shadows: The Architecture and Afterlife of Nichooas Hawksmoor, which, based on letters Downes wrote to him, describes how he and his father, who was organist at the Brompton Oratory – this helps to explain his susceptibility to the baroque – visited the Hawksmoor churches on cycling expeditions – they were long ones – from Ealing, where they lived and where Downes attended Ealing Priory School. What I had forgotten is that there was a plan to pull down Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1960, which led to the establishment of The Hawksmoor Committee, with John Betjeman, of course, as its chairman and Kerry Downes as an active member, organising a small exhibition of Hawksmoor drawings for the Arts Council in September 1962. Hard to remember that there was a time when Hawksmoor was not so appreciated.

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10 thoughts on “Kerry Downes (3)

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Charles. Sadly I never got to meet Kerry Downes. He was apparently working on his memoirs at the time I was researching the book and he was concerned that talking to an ‘interested party’, such as myself, might distort his own account. Nevertheless he was kind enough to correspond with me, as you mention, and wrote me a very nice letter after receiving a copy of the book. However, he did say in it that he didn’t quite recognise himself in my descriptions, but I imagine this is not uncommon for those being biographised, even in this very limited way!

  2. edward chaney says:

    Owen’s is indeed a fine book but, alas, Kerry informed me, in one of our epic phone chats, that the bit about him and his dad cycling around together looking at Hawksmoor churches weren’t true; he said that his dad gave up cycling the 1940s…

  3. edward chaney says:

    We only have access to a part of it so far; the funeral is on Tuesday (27th) at Our Lady’s Catholic Church in Acomb (YO24 3AE) 1pm…

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