Posted by: Adam Roake | July 14, 2009

The Prince sets the clock back to 1877

Once again Prince Charles seems determined to display his ignorance of the subject he says is too important for him to leave to others.

But this time it’s not modern architecture that is causing him a problem but rather the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings whose foundation lies in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with a manifesto written by William Morris. Charles it seems doesn’t agree with the fundamental premise set out in the manifesto that ancient buildings should be protected not slavishly restored and so has resigned as patron of the Society.

As the manifesto puts it,

… those who make the changes wrought in our day under the name of Restoration, while professing to bring back a building to the best time of its history, have no guide but each his own individual whim to point out to them what is admirable and what contemptible; while the very nature of their task compels them to destroy something and to supply the gap by imagining what the earlier builders should or might have done. Moreover, in the course of this double process of destruction and addition, the whole surface of the building is necessarily tampered with; so that the appearance of antiquity is taken away from such old parts of the fabric as are left, and there is no laying to rest in the spectator the suspicion of what may have been lost; and in short, a feeble and lifeless forgery is the final result of all the wasted labour. It is sad to say, that in this manner most of the bigger Minsters, and a vast number of more humble buildings, both in England and on the Continent, have been dealt with by men of talent often, and worthy of better employment, but deaf to the claims of poetry and history in the highest sense of the words.

Perhaps he should have read the manifesto (it’s not very long and well worth reading) before he accepted the post; all of the ordinary members have to sign to say they agree with it before they can join!

Perhaps he will read it now and realise what an ass he is making of himself as a self-appointed protector of “the old and trusted ways”, who is “…deaf to the claims of poetry and history in the highest sense of the words“.


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