I took a small group of Patrons round Burlington Gardens.   It may not have looked it to them, but it’s making progress.   The structure of the concrete bridge is now in place:-

The Norman Shaw studios (although not authenticated as by Shaw):-

The Entrance Hall:-


Collections Gallery:-

Burlington Gardens


We went to see Tatlin’s Tower today, a version of which was designed by Jeremy Dixon for the Royal Academy’s exhibition, Building The Revolution, in 2011, based on the original drawings (he had previously made one nearly forty years previously for an exhibition Art and Revolution at the Hayward Gallery).   After the exhibition, it needed a home and has now been re-erected next door to Norman Foster’s Sainsbury Wing, but just out of sight of it, and looks suitably magnificent, particularly when lit pink in the night:-

Tatlin’s Tower


Pevsner does not mention the formal walled garden at Houghton which it surely should as an extraordinarily ambitious example of a recent formal garden, designed by Julian and Isabel Bannerman, complete with a monumental wooden fruit cage:-

Much clipped topiary:-

The Rustic Temple with antlers in the pediment:-

And good formal planting with golden hornet crab apples:-

The Houghton Garden


I found it very hard not to be distracted by the visual pleasure of Robert Walpole’s great mansion, whose interiors are so surprisingly well preserved.

We went upstairs in the old 1920s service lift:-

Robert Walpole himself presides over the Stone Hall in a bust by Rysbrack:-

Through the Saloon is the White Drawing Room with a chimneypiece of Aurora, flanked by Caryatids:-

Beyond is the Green Velvet Bedchamber, with one of the best state beds I have ever seen, still opulently baroque and apparently designed by William Kent:-

Good tapestry too:-

In the north-east corner is the Cabinet Room, originally hung with pictures, but now with a dressing table looking out to the park:-

And a carved bird which I was told was a Ho Ho bird:-

Both up and down the lift, I admired the log basket:-



We drove up to Houghton to see their exhibition EARTH SKY of work by Richard Long in the house and gardens.

First, a large work, North South East West, dominating the palatial Palladianism of the central Stone Hall:-

Outside, immediately in front of the house on the long lawn stretching out to a distant ha-ha is A Line in Norfolk:-

Beyond, at the end of the formal garden in front of the house with the ride beyond, is Full Moon Circle:-

In the two service ranges flanking the house were White Water Falls:-

Remote in a corner of the formal garden was Houghton Cross :-

And in the parkland White Deer Circle:-

Richard Long


I have been reading Mark Girouard’s Friendships, soon to be published, which records his very extensive circle of friends, all now dead, from the 1950s onwards.   Some of them are already well known, like John Betjeman with whom he collaborated on the establishment of the Victorian Society (‘dear little Mark, so good, and never says a word’) and Denys Lasdun, whose National Theatre both Betjeman and Girouard admired.   But some of them are much less well known, like Gervase Mathew, the grubby Byzantinist and author of Byzantine Aesthetics and Dominic de Grunne, a Belgian Catholic who taught Indian art at the Royal College of Art.   He has an obvious penchant for scatty upper class girls, but there is not much love interest apart from an unexpected confession that in the 1990s his marriage was in trouble, when he went on long walks with a Belgian ex-hippy who he had met in Ethiopia.   It shows that there was much more to his life than writing about Victorian country houses and saving Spitalfields.

Mark Girouard


I was walking down a street near the Musée de Cluny (the Rue de l’Ecole de Médicine to be precise), I spotted an inscription recording that it was the location of the Ancienne Ecole Royale de Dessin, which was established in 1767.   In all the literature about the establishment of the Royal Academy (which is itself devoted to ‘the arts of design’), I have never seen any reference to the fact that the French King had given his blessing to an official drawing school which had been established in 1766 in what was then the rue des Cordeliers by Jean-Jacques Bachelier.   After various increases in its responsibilities to include the mechanical arts in 1823, it became L’École nationale des arts decoratifs’ in 1873.   But it still retains a fine relief of Architecture flanking its entrance portal and inside is what I suspect is the original drawing school:-

École Royale de Dessin