For the love of historic buildings

A week ago I enjoyed a day’s conference on the arts hosted by Lord Salisbury. A healthy gathering of heritage fanatics like myself, and some interested parliamentarians, such as Ed Vaizey the smiling but sparky Tory MP for Wantage, presumably the son of the distinguished writer Marina Vaizey. I note on his weblog that Blair is to make a major speech on the arts next week, on March 6 at the Tate Gallery, perhaps trying to leave some other legacy before he expires politically? It was an interesting event held in an inspiring piece historic house that must have seen so many important political conversations in its time. There is no doubt the future of our towns and cities and the historic buildings within them is a pressing issue today.

Next was a visit to our gifted illustrator-friend Matthew Rice to discuss his next features for the magazine. As you would imagine, his house is a charming old rectory, filled with china and paintings, and children and dogs. After a long discussion in his office, back to the house for supper with Emma, his wife, and discover Matthew is also a rather good cook. He is off to India with his father, a theatre designer, to see if they can find the house in which his father was born in Simla. Stop the night with them before heading off early to Lowestoft to do my research into Somerleyton Hall for our East Anglia issue, although am nearly a nervous wreck after driving through Norwich and round the one way system in Lowestoft in the rain! After gathering wits, carry on out to see the model village built by Peto, still as picturesque as ever.

On Thursday to the launch for Inigo Jones, the book Giles Worsley finished just before his death in 2006. It was held in the Portico Room of Somerset House where he had been a trustee, and speeches by Brian Allen of the Mellon Centre, Sir Marcus Worlsey, Bt, Giles’s father, and Michael Hall, Editor of Apollo, and formerly Country Life’s Architectural Editor. Giles was, and is, such a loss, and I still feel very much in his shadow. It takes some courage to tackle the architecture of the great Jones.