Much public speaking in recent weeks, including contributing to the Attingham Trust’s 60 anniversary conference, in which I raised the issue of the future of the sector of historic house museums in local authority ownership, many worrying stories around, and yet I think these include some very important houses and collections and collectively are a major player; a week later I contributed to a debate on “preservation v modernization” at the Battle of Ideas at the Barbican; the latter an especially lively debate, the audience, young and London biased overwhelming not enthusiastic for preservation – at least they said they weren’t; mind you the one person who put his hand for preservation was one of the youngest in the room.
To New York and Philadelphia to lecture for the Royal Oak, on country houses and country sports, a historical review which I hope helped identify the intense identification of these sports and landownership itself, then in terms of how they influence art, architecture and landscape of the English country house. Mid town Manhattan, back to normal after the hurricane, but met some who had seen the devastation on Coney Island etc, include my own cousin who works with the poorest families of the Bronx. I then flew up to Milwaukee I lectured on the English country house, the history of interiors and the story of Kenwood House, at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, in their splendid new building by Calatrava, looking out over Lake Michigan. I visited the extraordinary Ten Chimneys, the preserved home of two Broadway actors, Lynne Fontaine and Alfred Lunt, each room like a stage set of a Noel Coward play – a very amusing and well cared for place.
Best Books Read:
Hugh and Mirabel Cecil, In Search of Rex Whistler
John Fletcher, Gardens of Earthly Deer Park: the history of deer parks
William de Morgan at the Watts Gallery & Hollywood Costume at the V&A, & Bernini terracotta sculptures and the Roentgens furniture at at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Lost Prince at The National Portrait Gallery; also enjoyed the Hollywood Costume.
Best Meal Out:
Mele and Pere in Soho