Thursday, 11 April 2013

1832 marine villa in Cowes IOW saved from demolition

From the Isle of Wight County Press 28 March 2013

PLANS to demolish an historic seafront building at Cowes, which is thought to have been designed by John Nash, have been thrown out.

Members of the Isle of Wight Council’s planning sub committee were divided on proposals by BG Cowes Ltd to replace Hamlet Court, Queens Road, with 12 apartments in up to four storeys.

On the casting vote of the chairman, Cllr Richard Hollis, the plans were refused, against officer recommendation.

Although Hamlet Court is not a listed building, the committee heard it was built in 1832 as a marine villa with an input from John Nash but in the 1950s it was converted into seven apartments.

There was no objection from English Heritage, which said the building had been too substantially altered to qualify for listing, but both The Georgian Group and Save Britain’s Heritage raised concerns.

Cllr Roger Mazillius, speaking on behalf of the local member, said: "This building is a very important reminder of Cowes’s Regency past.

"Imagine that building in a good state of repair, it would be a fine example."

He also raised concerns about the impact on adjoining Lantern House, which would become detached under the plans.

Cllr Vanessa Churchman described the Cowes conservation area as an "absolute joke" and said the proposed building was "over-powering".

Cllr Paul Fuller disliked the "fake Georgian facade" but Cllr Arthur Taylor said the building, which had suffered significant distortion and structural damage, was past its useful life.

"I think if we were to turn this down and it went to appeal you will get the same result as the building next door (Vantage Point)," he said.

However, Cllr Hollis said: "I think this building is almost iconic. Hamlet Court is a heritage asset and so is the Squadron, which is virtually next door."

Monday, 1 April 2013

The hunt is on for Lord Byron's explosive memoirs*

The deliberate destruction of Lord Byron's memoirs is one of the great literary tragedies. On 17 May 1824, his publisher, John Murray, burnt them in the fireplace at his offices in Albemarle Street, London. Although he had not read the memoirs before destroying them, he feared that Bryon had written frankly about his boy-loves on his first visit to Greece, his marriage and his affair with his half-sister Augusta. Now, though, there is the tantalising prospect that the memoirs, which would revolutionise Byron studies, might have survived. Costas Papadopolous, muniments officer at the General State Archives in Athens, has unearthed a cache of letters from the months after Byron's death at Missolonghi in April 1824 that suggest that Byron, who gave the original memoirs to his friend Tom Moore when he went to fight for Greek independence, entrusted a copy to his Greek manservant, Aprilios Moros. Literary sleuths are now undertaking the difficult and involved task of trying to piece together its movements since the 1820s, in particular by tracing Moros's descendants, who may be sitting on a manuscript of huge literary and historical significance - and financial value.

Costas Papadopolous (right) of the General State Archives in Athens
Lord Byron in Balkan mode

*Update at midday: the likelihood of finding a copy is indicated by the date of the post and the name of the manservant.