Monday, 24 September 2018

Henley Decorative and Fine Arts Society

AT Phyllis Court Club on Thursday, September 19, Hedfas members were given a fine lecture by Dr Stephen Kershaw

AT Phyllis Court Club on Thursday, September 19, Hedfas members were given a fine lecture by Dr Stephen Kershaw entitled “One Architect, Two Temples and Three Museums: The Adventures of Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863)”.

“I have an amazing story to tell you,” announced Dr Kershaw as he proceeded to relate the enthralling story of Cockerell, the English architect, archaeologist and writer, who set off in 1810 for what was meant to be a Grand Tour of Europe lasting three years.

In the event, he was to be away from home for seven years, touring Turkey, Greece, Sicily and, later, Italy.

Cockerell’s many adventures included drinking with Byron, excavating stunning artworks, bribing Turkish pashas and auctioning his finds.

He acquired the sculptures of the Temple of Aphaia on Aigine (now in the Munich Glyptothek). As an archaeologist, Cockerell is remembered for removing the reliefs from the temple of Apollo at Bassae, near Phigalia, which are now in the British Museum.

Dr Kershaw held our attention with a lively account of Cockerell’s career.

In 1833, he was the first recipient of the Royal Gold Medal. By then, he was architect to the Bank of England, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Sun Assurance office in Threadneedle Street, London, and Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy (1840).

By 1819, Cockerell had been appointed surveyor to the fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral, yet still found time to assist his father with the survey of India House.

Other key works included the Hanover Chapel in Regent Street, London, (1823); St David’s College, Lampeter, (1829); the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, (taken on from Basevi in 1837 but not completed until after Cockerell’s death in 1874); and St George’s Hall, Liverpool, (1847).

The latter of these schemes is considered the masterpiece of the Classic Revival.

Even in death, Cockerell was considered a great architect, being buried alongside Christopher Wren and his father-in-law John Rennie in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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