William Morris

Seconding Motion at SPAB, as reported in the Times


The thirteenth annual meeting of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was held last evening in the old hall of Barnard's Inn, Holborn. Mr. Walter Crane presided, and in opening the proceedings said that they had there that evening two very excellent photographs which might serve as illustrations of what modern restoration meant. They illustrated the restoration of the south transept of St. Albans Abbey - a very noble building, of which England was justly proud. It might be said, "Look here upon this picture, and on this," for they represented the state of the building before and after it had been "Grimthorped," as a friend of his expressively put it. The one photograph was at any rate a picture of a genuine relic of antiquity. It was full of variety and richness, and was perfectly authentic whatever its style might be. On the other hand the other photograph showed a restoration of the same piece. It appeared to him that the most ardent admirer of such a piece of work as that could not claim for it that it represented anything but the views of Lord Grimthorpe. It appeared to him (Mr. Crane) as nothing but a composition from a superior box of bricks. There was a very influential class of men in England - the clergy - who had a great deal of power in their hands in that matter of the protection of ancient buildings, and one of the necessities of these days was that clergymen who had venerable buildings under their control should have a knowledge of architecture and a love of art. Mr. Crane moved the adoption of the report, and subsequently said that he ought to mention that Lord Grimthorpe had obtained a faculty to treat the Lady Chapel of St. Albans in the same way as be had treated the south transept.

Mr. William Morris, in seconding the adoption of the report, said that they might think the design of the restoration of St. Albans Abbey bad been made by the greatest fool in England. On the contrary, the man who made that design, was one of the cleverest men in England. He was so clever that be had a large fortune, and be had bought the people who onght to have taken care of the building and put them in his pocket. Me was a man utterly unfit to have anything to do with an ancient building, simply because he did not care a straw what became of such a building so long as he conld impress his individuality upon it. The public buildings of England were in the hands of a few entirely irresponsible persons, and he appealed to those persons not to take any steps with reference to those buildings without the best advice and long consideration.

A lecture on "Craft Gilds" was then delivered by the Rev. W. Cunningham, D.D.


Seconding report to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (as reported by Times)


  1. 25th June 1890, at a meeting of the S.P.A.B. in Barnard's Inn, Holborn.


The Times, June 26 1890, p. 9.