Lutyens Abroad Comes to the British Academy

The new book of essays on Lutyens Abroad was given a glittering launch at the British Academy on 11 March. Number 10 Carlton House Terrace was an apt location. Not only is it the London address of the British School at Rome, who hosted the hugely successful Rome conference on Lutyens Abroad organised by Gavin Stamp and Andrew Hopkins in 1999, but 10 Carlton House Terrace was once the London home of Viscount Ridley, husband of Lutyens’s daughter
Ursula. Swapped by the Prince Regent in exchange for a racehorse, the house was lavishly redesigned with a formal French staircase by Lutyens’s friend and rival Detmar Blow working with Billerey. Lutyens of course was dismissive; he never liked other architects’ work.

Even the British Academy is not immune from technical glitches, and the repeated and persistent failure of the slide projector almost sabotaged the two excellent presentations by Andrew Hopkins and Gavin Stamp. As a nonarchitectural historian, I usually feel under-equipped on these occasions, but this time speaking without slides was a distinct advantage. It was good to see so many contributors to the book, especially Robert Irving, who travelled from Yale, and Emmanuel Ducamp from Paris. The only sadness was the absence of Roderick Gradidge, who died before he was able to see this book, which contains his last piece of published work. At the conference itself, he had been larger than life.

Lutyens Abroad is published by the British School at Rome, and it has been beautifully designed on Italian paper with high-quality photographs, many of them published here for the first time. The two editors, Gavin Stamp and Andrew Hopkins, have done a splendid job. Congratulations to Andrew Hopkins, Assistant Director of the British School, who now goes on to become editor of the Burlington Magazine. Contributions range from studies of Lutyens’s travels abroad (Margaret Richardson) and his exhibition buildings (Hermione Hobhouse) to new research on the history of individual buildings, notably the British School at Rome (Andrew Hopkins), Le Bois des Moutiers (Emmanuel Ducamp) and the British Embassy in Washington (Gavin Stamp and Alan Greenberg). David Crellin gives a foretaste of his much-anticipated thesis with two articles on war memorials and Rome. As well as articles on India and South Africa (Robert Irving, Gavin Stamp, Mervyn Miller and Roderick Gradidge), there are essays by Alan Powers, John Pemble, Louise Campbell and Timothy M. Rohan on the wider cultural context.

This book is a must for the shelves of any Lutyens admirer. It also underlines the value of conferences in stimulating new thinking 1999 was the 130th anniversary of Lutyens’s birth in 1869. Perhaps we should now pencil in 2004 for the next Lutyens conference to mark the 60th anniversary of his death in 1944.

Jane Ridley