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Launch of St Michael’s Coventry: The Rise and Fall of the Old Cathedral JUNE 2015

A new book featuring groundbreaking scholarship

A new book featuring groundbreaking scholarship on St Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, devastated in a German air raid in 1940, was launched on 19 May at Coventry Cathedral in an event that also marked the completion of a major restoration project. 

The evening began with a blessing of the ruins and continued with speeches by The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry; by Jonathan Foyle, former Chief Executive of the World Monuments Fund, which commissioned the research project which forms the basis of St Michael’s Coventry: The Rise and Fall of the Old Cathedral; and by Jessica Hodge, who edited the book for Scala.

The WMF recently completed work to stabilise and safeguard the deteriorating ruins of St Michael's, after alarming crack appeared in the tower masonry in 2011, and also enabled the conservation of Britain's largest collection of loose medieval stained glass. WMF commissioned the book to re-present and, to borrow the words of Jonathan Foyle in his insightful Introduction, elevate the cathedral’s hidden story. While Coventry Cathedral has huge symbolic value, embodying the horror of war and the power of reconciliation and forgiveness, this publication also sheds light on the history of the ruined cathedral and what was lost in the bombings of 1940. 

Drawing on groundbreaking research, the author George Demidowicz first traces the history of the building from its medieval beginnings and explains the key role the cathedral played in the city, which was a centre of power and wealth in medieval England. Much of the medieval stained glass survive as fragments, having been removed prior to the cathedral’s destruction in 1940, and Heather Gilderdale Scott provides thoughtful analysis of these beautiful artworks. 

This insightful scholarship, together with historical material, some of which is unpublished, and specially commissioned photography, create an informative and handsome tribute. 

Images (from top): 
The polygonal apse today
Commissioned photography courtesy of Andy Marshall

Edward Rudge, Exterior view of St Michael’s from the north-east by Edward Rudge, 1823–25
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Head of a virgin saint. 
Commissioned photography courtesy of Andy Marshall


Waterloo to Wellington: From Iron Duke to Enlightened College JUNE 2015

New book celebrating the Duke of Wellington and his educational legacy

Published on the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, Joanna Seldon’s Waterloo to Wellington celebrates the life and achievements of the Duke of Wellington and the school he inspired. Seldon explores the character of the Duke, identifying courage, leadership and a sense of duty as the qualities that enabled him to achieve so much both on the battlefield and in politics, serving as Prime Minister twice and a leading figure in the House of Lords until his death. 

The Duke was highly admired and celebrated in his lifetime, described as “the greatest man this country has ever produced” by Queen Victoria. Victoria and Prince Albert founded Wellington College in 1859 as a national memorial to the Duke. Even today, the Duke remains a role model for the students of Wellington College. The school’s motto ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’ is indicative of the value it still places on qualities of courage and dedication. 

Lady Seldon, who is married to the 13th Master of the Wellington College, Sir Anthony Seldon, tells the compelling story of the Duke’s death, the school’s foundation and its early years in this beautifully illustrated publication. The book was launched at Wellington College’s annual Speech Day on 23 May. 

Images (from top):
Cecil Langley Doughty, With the Iron Duke at Salamanca, 20th Century
Colour Lithograph, Private Collection

Sir Thomas Lawrence, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, with a telescope, 1828
Oil on Canvas, Wellington College

The red-brick Palladian architecture of Wellington College from South Front, 2013.

Turner’s Wessex: Architecture and Ambition MAY 2015

Scala has published the catalogue to accompany the exhibition at The Salisbury Museum

An exhibition bringing together Turner’s work from the Salisbury region opened last week at The Salisbury Museum and Scala has published the accompanying catalogue, written by Turner scholar Ian Warrell. 

Turner’s Wessex: Architecture and Ambition offers a new perspective on this hugely celebrated artist. Rather than the pervasive image of Turner in later life as “a short, stocky man in a top hat; his clothes slightly shabby; his speech taciturn”, this show depicts Turner as a young man driven by ambition, and highlights the influence of patrons Sir Richard Colt Hoare and William Beckford on shaping his career. 

Turner’s early works featured in the exhibition demonstrate his excellent architectural draughtsmanship, his mastery of perspective and - perhaps most significantly - light. To quote an early review of the exhibition in The Times, it “shows the speed of the precocious young Turner’s development”. Turner was to go on to develop a style of painting that was yet more ambitious and novel and far removed from the precise rendering of architectural detail of these early works. Yet they show the beginnings of Turner’s matchless ability to capture light and atmosphere and his soaring ambition. 

The catalogue is available now and the exhibition is open until 27 September. 

Image credits (from top):

The Choir of Salisbury Cathedral, exhibited RA 1797
Watercolour, 64.8 x 50.8 cm
The Salisbury Museum 

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, c. 1827-8
Watercolour, 27.9 x 40.4 cm
The Salisbury Museum