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John Ramsey: Castle Howard

Audio Version Text Version In Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited two friends, Charles and Sebastian, lounge in the colonnade of Brideshead Castle, the stately home of Sebastian’s family. They have just come down from their first year at Oxford. It is a peerless summer’s day. Charles is sketching an ornamental fountain. Referring to the mainRead more

Lorraine Stoker: The Keats-Shelley House in Rome

Audio Version Read by Bill Bryant Text Version Rome is a very special place to me and this is a small, perfect jewel in its crown. The Keats-Shelley House on the Spanish Steps in Rome is a museum dedicated to the second-generation English romantic poets who lived in, and were inspired by Italy. The houseRead more

John Ramsey: A Sculpture in Canterbury Cathedral

Audio Version Text Version This sculpture in Canterbury Cathedral was a favourite of George Zarnecki, former librarian of the Conway and Deputy Director of the Courtauld Institute. In the latter part of the 20th century, he was a leading authority on sculpture of the Norman or Romanesque period. For his book English Romanesque Sculpture 1066Read more

Alexander Bird: on the Shelley Memorial by Edward Onslow Ford

In 1893, the Shelley Memorial dedicated to the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was formally inaugurated in University College, Oxford. 83 years before, the then student was expelled for “contumaciously refusing to answer questions proposed to [him], and for also repeatedly declining to disavow a publication entitled The Necessity of Atheism”. At the time, thisRead more

John Ramsey: Agnes Conway 1885–1950

Audio Version Read by Amanda Roberts Text Version At 2pm on an April day in 1914, and after an eight-hour climb, Agnes Conway reached the remote village of Lada at the top of Greece’s Langada Pass, 2000 ft above sea level. She and her companion Evelyn Radford had started at 6am and had not stoppedRead more

Ben Britton: “The New Towns are no longer new” – Basildon in the Conway Archive

Audio Version Text Version   In 1956, before Brooke House was built, or any part of Basildon for that matter, there was a sign in its place that read: “This is the site of Basildon Town Centre”. Over the next few years, the first buildings of what was already Basildon were put up, fulfilling theRead more

John Ramsey: The Oxen of Laon Cathedral

Audio Version Text Version Laon, a town in North-East France, has an immense and beautiful cathedral on top of a 200-metre hill, the location of the medieval walled town. It is one of the most important examples of early Gothic architecture. Sixteen life-size statues of oxen look down from the top of the two westernRead more

Muny Morgan: Photographic Memories of Ravello, Italy

Having volunteered on the digitisation project at the Courtauld for two years in April (can’t believe it!) I always had my eye on the Italian section of the Conway collection. We process the boxes the order they appear on the shelf, which is alphabetical, so I knew it would take us a while to getRead more

Irma Delmonte: AF Kersting and The Picturesque

Audio Version Read by John Ramsey Text Version Looking at the world as if it were a picture is a relatively recent phenomenon, yet nowadays, with the advent of smartphones and social media, the practice of producing pictures is embedded in our daily routine, and the term “picturesque” is more relevant than ever. The RievaulxRead more

Ferhat Ulusu: Unexpected Music in the Conway Library

Audio Version Read by Christopher Williams Text Version   Did I really sign up for this? This is what I asked myself as soon as I walked into the building. A pretty lady, nicely presented with a red lipstick smiled at me and swiftly asked for my name. As a volunteer, I was preparing myselfRead more