KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 70  1956  page 22
The Origin and First Hundred Years of the Society

By Frank W. Jessup, Honorary General Secretary   continued

volume of work that he was required to do—he must, he said, be at the disposal, at any moment, of any member of the Society; on the contrary, alleged Scott Robertson, the Secretary had to do all the work, whilst the Curator sat in his house behind locked doors. A consultation with the Museum Trustees was proposed, and thereupon Bartlett resigned as the Society’s Curator, although two years later, when the curatorship was again vacant, he was reappointed. He was a great ornithologist, and, in retrospect, we may allow the value of his publications in that field to go far towards condoning his passivity in the Society’s affairs.’
   The project which certainly caused Scott Robertson most trouble was the copying of the mural paintings in the dark chapel of St. Gabriel in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. The paintings were thought to be of such importance as to justify their reproduction, in colour, in Archaeologia Cantiana and in January, 1878, James Neale, F.S.A., was commissioned, on behalf of the Society, to copy them, at an agreed remuneration of one guinea per diem plus expenses, the Chapter supplying lights, scaffolding, and a boy or man to assist. As a rough estimate it was expected that the work would cost £50. Six months later, Neale reported that the work already done would cost £48, and that he expected the completion of the drawings would involve about £32 more. Nine months later the total figure had increased to £200, and the work was still, unfinished. The artist was

paid off, and the drawings were reproduced in Volume XIII of Archaeologia Cantiana, but such was the cost of chromolithography that, in the end, only one plate could be reproduced in colour, the Naming of St. John the Baptist. That one plate cost £62; possessors of the volume will certainly agree that it is a handsome illustration, but in several letters to Scott Robertson the artist complained of the indecent haste with which the Secretary was proceeding to have the reproduction made, explaining, but to no avail, that the thawing was unfinished. Evidently Scott Robertson was exasperated by the fifteen months’ delay, and perhaps he allowed zeal to outstrip discretion. Subsequently he was involved in a sharp argument with the Chapter about the failure to hang Neale’s drawing (which was to become their property) in the Cathedral Library, where it was intended to remain on permanent exhibition, but after the exchange of letters,. some passages of which would do credit to that other nineteenth-century clerical letter-writer,

 1 That the Honorary Secretary and the Curator did not get on well together seems to emerge from certain of their correspondence; for example, in June 1880, the Secretary writes to the Curator about the Annual General Meeting: "If you can obtain envelopes without gum, it will be a good thing, as we shall put halfpenny stamps on them and send them open "; a note pencilied on the letter runs: "This created a great robbery of Members’ Railway tickets and most damaging to the Secretary." The note is not initialled, but I have no doubt that the author of it was Bartlett.

Page 22 

Previous page     Back to Page listings    Next page

Back the Contents page   Back to Arch. Cant. List   Back to Publications On-line  Back to Research Page  Back to Homepage

 Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society 2003     

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details too