The Bloomsbury Hotel

The Christmas Lunch

By Stuart Handley

On Saturday, 1st December 2012, sixty-two members and guests assembled in Queen Mary’s Hall at the Bloomsbury Hotel in Great Russell Street for the Trust’s annual Christmas lunch. The hall was originally the Concert Hall of the YWCA Central Club designed by Sir Edwin. On arrival, friendships were rekindled and reminiscences exchanged while enjoying a welcome drink, courtesy of the Bloomsbury Hotel.

After taking our places at table, Martin Lutyens welcomed everyone and introduced some special guests, who included descendants of important people in Sir Edwin’s life – Michael Baker, grandson of Sir Herbert Baker; Michael’s wife Caroline, granddaughter of Sir Lawrence Weaver (chronicler of much of Sir Edwin’s work); Caroline’s brother, Lawrence Weaver, with his wife Camilla; and Primrose Arnander with her husband Christopher. Primrose is the great-great niece of Gertrude Jekyll and granddaughter of Sir Reginald McKenna – friend and patron of Sir Edwin. In welcoming the special guests, Martin observed that it was a joy to discover and strengthen these close and much valued links to Edwin Lutyens and his world.

Martin then gave an overview of the Trust’s activities during what was a busy year. Firstly, the Events Committee had run visits to Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, organised the Goddards week and the Palladio tour – all fully subscribed. Martin outlined the exciting programme planned for 2013 and thanked Paul Waite, Janet Allen, Stuart Martin, Gavin Chappell and all who had contributed to the success of these outings.

In reporting on the activities of the Photographic Archive Committee, Martin thanked Andrew Barnett, for his almost full-time work on the Photographic Archive Project, setting up technology and cataloguing over 13,000 images. He is now assisted by Mandy Lorenz who is getting increasingly involved.

Next was the Trust’s Casework on which Tony Richardson is doing sterling work on a stream of cases, some contentious, e.g. Manchester Cenotaph and Gledstone Hall. Others are assisting with projects to save Heathcote and Le Bois des Moutiers.

Later, Martin thanked Barry Sillince, who had retired as a Trustee, for having launched and (for many years) chaired the Events Committee. Martin wished him a happy retirement with his wife Millicent, to whom thanks were also due for her years as editor of the Newsletter. Martin was delighted to announce that Jennifer Oppenheimer (owner, with her husband Jonathan, of Folly Farm) has joined the board of trustees, as Barry’s replacement.

In thanking all members for their support and enthusiasm, Martin pointed out that the Trust needs additional volunteers to help with its activities, including events, archives, communications and, increasingly, technology. Can you help? Finally, Martin wished everybody a Happy Christmas and glasses were raised to The Lutyens Trust and memory of Sir Edwin Lutyens.

After the splendid lunch, Andrew Barnett presented a slide show which featured the places visited during the year, both in the UK and Italy (for the Palladio tour based in Vicenza and the visit to the British School in Rome); Lutyens in the News: the Thiepval Exhibition; piano on sale; Martin’s work as chairman of one of the NT’s appeals for Castle Drogo and his fund raising and supportive lectures in the UK and California. The presentation closed with a taster of the visits planned for 2013.

Members and guests were invited to test their recognition skills of Lutyens’s work with a pictorial quiz comprising twelve images of his buildings. The winning table managed to get ten right answers and were awarded prizes.

The Bloomsbury Hotel is not only a superb Lutyens building but an excellent venue for the Trust’s Christmas lunch; its staff are to be congratulated for looking after us so well. Thanks are appropriate to Paul Waite for organising the location and the lunch. It is sad that he was unable to be with us. Many thanks are also due to Andrew Barnett and members of the Events and Photographic Archive Committees for the detailed arrangements and for entertaining us so well with the interesting slide presentation and the quiz. On the day, Gavin Chappell, Christine Barnett and Ann Ledden tirelessly sold raffle tickets for prizes very generously donated by members. They are all to be congratulated since the raffle raised a total of £390 for Trust funds.

This event really is a highlight in the Trust’s calendar. It is recommended that, as soon as the notice appears in the summer edition of the Newsletter, you put the date in your diary and book early for 2013. I look forward to seeing you there.