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Twilight at Stonehenge (circa 1840). Watercolour by William Turner of Oxford
Image credit Wikimedia Commons
Standing stone on the North York Moors
A Dream of Solstice
Qual e’ colui che somniando vede,
che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io…
Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII
‘Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,
So I live now’, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.
It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges
That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,
Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving
And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the crowd grows still
In the wired-off precinct of the burial mounds,
Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,
Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king’s gold dagger when he plunged it in
To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk
And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow
Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, holding its candle
Under the rock-piled roof and the loam above.
View of the Great Orme’s limestone cliffs from the former lighthouse
Image credit FinnWikiNo. Source Wikimedia Commons
Cahal Milmo, writing for The Independent, reports on the National Trust’s purchase of 140-acres at the Great Orme archaeological site in North Wales –
A chunk of the Great Orme, the imposing limestone headland on the North Wales coast which is home to Britain’s largest prehistoric mine and a herd of Kashmiri goats acquired from Queen Victoria, has been secured by the National Trust. The £1m purchase of a large farm on the promontory overlooking the resort of Llandudno is the latest acquisition by the Trust’s 50-year-old Neptune campaign to protect special areas of coastline under threat of development.
The 140-acre Parc Farm will now be managed to promote the Orme’s status as one of Britain’s most important botanical sites as well as an area rich in archaeology, including the underground workings of the biggest Bronze Age copper mine in the UK.
Full article here.
NATURAL, HISTORIC, AND BUILT ENVIRONMENT. THE SURROUNDINGS OF WHERE WE LIVE
THE LANDSCAPE IS OUR HERITAGE
Uffington Heritage Watch carries out research into, and promotes understanding of heritage: the natural & historic environment that forms the landscape in which we live. The built environment, vernacular or formal, old or recent, urban or rural, is the most visible example of cultural heritage. But heritage includes all the expressions of how we live. Tangible, material things, and the intangible too, such as stories and sounds and spaces that have meaning to us and contribute to our sense of identity and well-being.
Self-portrait by Francis Nicholson (1753-1844) Courtesy Martyn Gregory Gallery
Francis Nicholson is invariably regarded as ‘The Father of Watercolour Painting’. His ‘Stourhead’ series of paintings (1812 – c.1816) is renowned, and currently in the hands of the British Museum. The series seems to have been commissioned by Sir Richard Colt Hoare of ‘Stonehenge‘ fame. But until recently, it has been anything but clear how Sir Richard and Nicholson came to be acquainted.
The connexion seems to begin with Henrietta Anne Hoare, daughter of Sir Richard Hoare via his second marriage to Frances Anne Acland. Henrietta was born in 1765, the half-sister of Sir Richard Colt Hoare who, with William Cunningham, first excavated Stonehenge in 1798. There is a portrait of Henrietta here. She married her cousin Sir Thomas Dyke Acland of Killerton, Devon, in 1785. When Acland died in 1794, she remained at Killerton House, and a year later married Capt. Matthew Fortescue, R.N. of Filleigh, Devon.
Henrietta was no mean artist, and had the funds to take lessons from the fashionable Nicholson in London. We do not know exactly when Francis and Henrietta first met. The first hard evidence that they knew each other is from 1808, when Nicholson exhibited ‘View between Christiana and Konigsburg, in Norway, from a sketch by Sir T. Ackland’, Henrietta’s son. Nicholson exhibited two further Norwegian views from sketches by Acland in 1809, and in 1810 one of Italy “from a Sketch by Sir R. Hoare, Bart”. Between then and 1813, Nicholson exhibited several more Italian scenes from drawings by Sir Richard Hoare and Sir Richard Colt Hoare. It is possible that all of these were first shown to Nicholson by Henrietta – we cannot be sure. But in 1813, we find evidence that Nicholson had been in the south-west himself, and was almost certainly in personal touch with the main branch of the Hoare family; in 1813 he exhibited ‘Stonehenge’, which may still be seen at Stourhead today – see here. In 1813, he also exhibited ‘View at Stourhead, the seat of Sir R. C. Hoare’. Baronet, Alfred’s Tower in the Distance. Here is the beginning of Nicholson’s ‘Stourhead’ series, and it suggests that Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Nicholson had met, and had agreed a commission for the series, c.1812.
By 1820, it is clear that Nicholson and the Hoares were very good friends. That year, Nicholson published his ground-breaking book of instruction, The Practice of Drawing and Painting Landscape from Nature in Water Colours. It is dedicated to Henrietta and mentions the whole Hoare family. The dedication reads:
TO THE HONOURABLE MRS. FORTESCUE. ________
In dedicating this Work to you, I consult alike my inclination and duty: The first, in consequence of the great proficiency you have attained in the Art of which it treats, as your Performances sufficiently evince; and the latter, in the most grateful recollection of the numerous Favours and acts of kindness which I have on every occasion received from you, and from every branch of your family.
I am, with the greatest respect, MADAM, Your most obliged servant, FRANCIS NICHOLSON.
Henrietta and Francis remained good friends until her death at Killerton in 1841. Nicholson himself died three years later, in London, aged 90.
And that was the end of the story… until now. Today, Killerton House and estate is in the hands of The National Trust. This year, Henrietta’s 250th, Killerton House is to hold its first ever historical art exhibition, entitled Framing the View. Francis Nicholson, The Killerton Drawing Master. The Guest Curator is Professor Gordon Bell, a veteran curator of three previous Nicholson exhibitions. The exhibition will feature work by both Nicholson and Henrietta Anne Fortescue and will, I think, be most interesting to see. It runs from 16th May until 15th September 2015.
You can learn more about Francis Nicholson here.
Well, this is our 600th post since we got going two and a half years ago. First off, many many thanks to all who have contributed, or drawn our attention to, features and photos since we started (and thanks too to our readers who have commented or indicated that they liked what we’ve published).
So, we wondered how we might celebrate our 600th post…
Cornwall’s been in the news recently: Earlier in the year it took a severe storm battering (along with other areas in Britain) and its only rail link to and from the rest of the country was dramatically severed due to high seas at Dawlish in Devon. Now, after for some two months, the line has been repaired and trains are running again. Then, last week, came the exciting news that the Cornish are to be granted minority status under European rules for the protection of national minorities (we ran a short feature about it here) which hopefully will herald a greater awareness and appreciation of Cornwall’s proud heritage. Also, last week, BBC television ran an adaptation (not an entirely successful one) of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn; a dark and violent story of ship-wrecking, smuggling and murder centred around an old inn on Bodmin Moor.
So, with all this happening, it seems appropriate to mark Cornwall’s current place in the spotlight, alongside our own 600th post celebration, with a poem dedicated to Cornwall and the Cornish and news of an exciting archaeological/conservation event happening in Cornwall next month. We hope you find both of interest.
Pitted mining landscape adjacent to the Hurlers Stone Circle on Bodmin Moor
The Heritage Trust
Cornwall: The gold of a nation
Pitiful pitted land
Plundered for its wealth and identity
Its language lost
Earth dug and destroyed for silver, tin and China clay
Brought close to a nothingness at the tip of Britain.
Cornwall has become itself again
Its tors and towers never really lost
Its words never really withered
All just buried deep…
Like the Rillaton treasure at its barrow-fast heart
The gold of a nation gathers again the light against it.
We are so powerful; our capacity for destruction is so huge, that we have to do something positive. (Sir David Attenborough)
Forgive our language, it’s not often that we feel the need to swear (well, we often do feel the need actually, though don’t usually print it) nor to encroach on the territory of our friends in the Natural and Wildlife heritage lobbies, but the comparison between the money being planned for a reckless high-speed rail link (HS2) in Britain, and the cuts to the budget of The Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens) in London, really does take the biscuit.
Please take a few moments to watch the video above (presented by Sir David Attenborough) and sign the petition here if possible.
Update in yesterday’s Guardian makes for depressing reading –
Cuts imposed by ministers that will see 125 jobs axed at Kew Gardens have gone ahead despite warnings that any drop in resourcing would threaten its future as one of the world’s leading botanic institutions.
A reduction of £1.5m in funding from the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) coupled with other financial pressures have contributed to a £5m hole in Kew’s budget that managers say cannot be filled without losing a sixth of the institution’s staff, mostly in scientific areas.