Minutes from AGM on Tuesday, 14th February, 2023
SCOTLAND’S CHURCHES TRUST NEEDS VOLUNTEERS
Scotland’s religious buildings are currently experiencing a period of change unseen since the mid-19th century. Several hundred of the country’s incredible and historic churches are earmarked for closure in the coming months and years.
With the support of Historic Environment Scotland, Scotland’s Churches Trust has re-launched its initiative to record the interior contents of as many of these churches as possible before these items are dispersed and lost forever.
To find out more, you can visit their website here
Please watch their brief video below and do drop their director a line if you would like to volunteer a few hours to help record this important facet of multi-generational cultural heritage in your local area.
CHAIR’S BLOG – January, 2023
The new EDFAS season got underway in September and despite much planning, we suddenly found ourselves looking for an alternative venue two days before the first lecture, when heavy rain meant that Freemasons` Hall had to close due to damage to the roof. As ever, the committee rose to the challenge, which resulted in St John`s, Princes Street, kindly offering us their beautiful church. Thanks to members for their patience and understanding during September & October.
The September lecture was rather special, if a somewhat melancholy occasion, as on that sunny Tuesday, the body of Her Majesty the Queen left Edinburgh after Lying in State at St Giles. It was good to be together and to share our respect and our thoughts on the passing of the Queen; the light filtering through the stained glass windows seemed particularly poignant that afternoon. We were delighted to welcome back Caroline Knight who delivered a very interesting lecture on William Kent and we met again in St John`s for the October lecture, which offered us fascinating insights into Kettles Yard in Cambridge, delivered by Sarah Burles, who had been the guide on an EDFAS tour to the east coast of the USA several years ago.
In late September we held our Annual Society Lecture at the National Gallery, twice postponed due to the pandemic. Alice Strang gave a superb lecture on the work of Anne Redpath and her Circle and it was super to see so many members in person. We also had a wonderful visit to the private library and collection of Dr Bill Zachs; a small party of us were enthralled by his library and his selection of first editions. It was an intimate and fun afternoon, rounded off with tea and Tunnocks!
In November we returned to Freemasons` Hall, when Patricia Andrew explored how Greece has been depicted in art through five centuries. It was a really stimulating lecture and we were delighted to be joined by the Chief Executive of the Arts Society, Dr Florian Schweizer, who travelled up from London for a lightning trip to meet members and the committee. His visit was much appreciated.
On the 16th of November, around thirty members visited the National Museum of Scotland`s Granton Collection Centre and were shown textile and paper conservation work.
December dawned and a group braved a bitterly cold, wet, Monday morning to experience a great tour of the Portrait Gallery, taking in the highlights of the collection. Our Christmas lecture was topical, as Helen McIldowie – Jenkins explored the Iconography of the Nativity. That day the weather was biting cold and it was impressive that so many members made the effort to attend in person. Freemasons` Hall was wonderfully cosy, but understandably, many evening members decided to stay at home and watch the lecture online.
So the year turned and last week we welcomed in 2023 with a super lecture delivered by James Lawson, retired lecturer from Edinburgh University`s Department of Art, who stood in for the planned lecturer, Anne Bianco, who was unwell. His lecture “An Interlude in the Labours of the Months” offered us hope for the Spring and the prospect of May was warmly received.
On Tuesday, a bus full of members will set off to visit the recently reopened Burrell Collection and we are so grateful to Theo Burrell, a member of the committee for making this visit possible.
Chair : EDFAS
A GRAND DAY OUT
The visit to the Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum and
Little Sparta, near Dunsyre, punctuated by a glorious visit to
the gardens of Symington House, was much enjoyed by all.
The day kicked off with a warm welcome and an informative
introduction to the museum, delivered by the Museum`s
Chair of Trustees, Jamie Dawnay. The museum was relocated
to the state of the art premises, formerly a garage, on the
High Street in Biggar in 2015 and it is an impressive, bright
space in which to learn of life in Upper Clydesdale, from
early times to the twenty first century. From flint arrowheads,
discovered close by, to marvellous models of buildings and
settlements to be found in the area, the museum engages
The rear half of the museum is home to “Gladstone
Court”, where streets and alleys of recreated shops bring 150
years of Biggar to life, in a fun and fascinating way.
At the front of the museum there is also a wonderful
exhibition space for artworks, and we were lucky to meet
and chat with Phoebe Cope, a local artist, whose exhibition
was ending that day.
Many of us made a mental note to visit again and to spread the
word amongst friends, as the museum is a gem.
As the rain cleared, we set off in convoy to Symington
House, where Jamie and Sarah Dawnay welcomed us into
their beautiful garden to eat our picnic lunch,
to chat and to explore their walled garden.
They shared photos of “before” and “after” of
the walled garden, which had been locked and
neglected for 20 years before they arrived.
The planting in the borders was subtle and
understated, whilst the display of geraniums
in the greenhouses added a riot of colour…
what care and attention to detail. Members enjoyed the
lunchtime visit and the scudding clouds only added to the
experience. It was very generous of the Dawnays to invite
Next stop, Little Sparta, near Dunsyre, the original and
inspiring sculpture garden created by Ian Hamilton Finlay:
artist, poet and gardener. George Gilliland, Head Gardener and his elegant whippet gave us a super tour, explaining the relationship between the garden and the wider landscape and pointing out the quirky and clever puns to be found in the sculptures and the poet’s words, which are engraved in stone, wood and metal. George told us that one of the main themes of
Hamilton-Finlay’s creation is the sea.
He wanted visitors to feel, see and hear the sea, even though the garden
is inland, giving us the example of how planting trees allowed him to recreate the sound of the waves in the rustling of leaves on a windy day.
Finlay’s interest in all things nautical was also evident as we stepped on a brick path, engraved with the names of ships from the Second World War. It really was inspiring and thought provoking; the rain fell as we explored the far reaches of the garden, but it did not dampen the group’s enthusiasm and spirit.
A grand day out – thanks to Charles Guest for organising it.
TOUR TO CUMBRIA MAY 2022
Twenty-six EDFAS members finally set off on the Cumbria tour, twice postponed by COVID. Charles and Gail Guest had organised an excellent mix of places to visit. On the first day we drove direct from Edinburgh to Hutton in the Forest where we were greeted by Lord and Lady Inglewood.
At the welcome dinner that evening at our hotel in Kendal a local landowner and historian, Adam Naylor, gave us an introduction to the history of Cumberland and Westmorland.
The visit the next day to Rayrigg Hall, a private home where William Wilberforce lived and the tour with a member of the family, was a highlight. We visited the Jacobean Levens Hall and topiary garden and magnificent Holker Hall, a Cavendish family house, as well as Lowther Castle’s recreated Gothic
ruins and gardens.
There are many Arts and Crafts mansions in the area, and we visited Blackwell House and then John and Sarah Jane Campbell welcomed us to evening drinks at their Arts & Crafts home and wonderful gardens at Briery Close.
Members much enjoyed seeing each other again and making new friends. A visit to the Lakes would not be complete without seeing the new museum of boats and a cruise on a steamer on Lake Windermere and visit to William Wordsworth’s home at Dove Cottage, Grasmere. We had excellent weather and the scenery, the hills and spring green
all contributed to an excellent tour.