historic houses and collections annual
FROM THE EDITOR In the opening chapter of William Golding’s Darkness Visible (1979) a small boy walks solemnly through a fire of melting lead and distorting iron – the furnace of the London Blitz – to be delivered into the hands of incredulous firefighters. For those who have witnessed buildings burn and seen at first hand the voracious speed and power of a terrible conflagration, the novelist’s words sear indelibly: ‘too much clarity…inhuman light… Tomorrow all might be dark, dreary, dirty, broken walls, blind windows; but just now there was so much light that the very stones seemed semi-precious, a version of the infernal city.’
As I watched Clandon Park burn on the night of 29 April 2015 it took on the appearance of a grotesque advent calendar, whose perfectly arrayed windows framed either blazing orange light or sooty blackness. The roaring sheet flame of the one consumed the past in the terrible immediacy of the present; the hissing darkness of the other spoke of mournful loss that seemed to quench future possibilities.
News of the burning of great buildings touches us, as if a friend, relation or heroic public figure had died unexpectedly. In recent years we have grieved for the Glasgow School of Art (2014); the Venetian opera house, Teatro La Fenice (1996); Windsor Castle (1992); Uppark (1989); and Hampton Court Palace (1986), but have also marvelled at the creative responses to those depredations. So too at Clandon it was human spirit, energy and passion that tempered the tragedy of that night: the determination and reassuring professionalism of the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, the passion and organisational skills of staff and advisers, and the generosity of volunteers and sister organisations. The complex work demanded of the fire’s aftermath proceeds apace.
The circumstances of the fire, not yet fully understood, are subject to forensic analysis by fire investigators, for whom access depends upon the careful excavation of the debris within the walls. It is as yet not possible to say what the future might hold for Clandon Park, nor what this great architectural vessel – at once Venetian and English, baroque and neo-Palladian – might contain or how it might be displayed. What is certain is that it will pass through the smoke and flames, as Golding’s nameless child did, to emerge in a different state, injured, its destiny changed, faith tested but not broken by fire. David Adshead, Head Curator, the National Trust.
for apollo apollo editor Thomas Marks managing editor Imelda Barnard sub-editors David Gelber and Fatema Ahmed designer Will Martin
4 ... THE FAMILY OF SIR THOMAS MORE REVISITED JANE EADE and DAVID TAYLOR examine the surviving copies of Hans Holbein the Younger’s lost group portrait of Sir Thomas More’s family, and their attribution to the artist Rowland Lockey 12 ... FURNITURE, CARVING AND GILDING AT ATTINGHAM PARK BYTHOMAS DONALDSON OF SHREWSBURY CHRISTOPHER ROWELL explores the furniture and decorative woodwork made by Thomas Donaldson for the Picture Gallery at Attingham Park, Shropshire 21 ... AN ARCHITECTURAL FOLLY REVEALED JONATHAN YARKER considers the Gothic chapel that William John Bankes created for his university rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge 26 ... JOHN WOOTTON: PAINTER OF ‘LANDSCAPES AND OTHER SUBJECTS’ PETER MOORE examines a John Wootton canvas on display at Knole House, Kent, arguing for its importance in our wider understanding of 18th-century British art 34 ... SANDERSON MILLER AT LACOCK ABBEY WILL HAWKES explores how the celebrated Gothic architect Sanderson Miller transformed the Great Hall at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire 44 ... WHY DOES THE NATIONAL TRUST NEED SO MANY BOOKS? DAVID PEARSON on the continued relevance of the National Trust’s collection of historical works 50 ... ‘WHEAR THE WALKS SHOULD HAV BENE’: THE UNFINISHED HALL AT HARDWICK PETE SMITH considers the design of the New Hall at Hardwick, Derbyshire, exploring how the building would have appeared had the scheme for its loggias been fully realised 57... NEW ACQUISITIONS 2014–2015 A review of the year’s gifts and purchases cover image Detail of ‘Chimaera’ front leg of one of a pair of console tables, 1811 (altered 1814) by Thomas Donaldson (d. 1857) Attingham Park, Shropshire © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel