Two Henrys : The Fourth Part Two and Moore

From Renishaw Hall on the eighteenth of June we made our way to Stratford upon Avon where we checked in at our hotel in time to wash and brush up before heading on foot (only a few minutes distant) to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre by the River Avon. It was a lovely warm evening and there were lots of people about enjoying relaxing by the River and the Canal.


We were booked for supper at The Rooftop Restaurant followed by a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part Two by the Royal Shakespeare Company. This was no dull, boring history play rather it seemed to me dominated by comedy. Anthony Sher played Falstaff and the whole performance was being filmed and relayed simultaneously to a greater audience in cinemas throughout the country. This meant that the director, Greg Doran, came on stage at the beginning to introduce the play.

Swans of Avon

The Swans of Avon and Clopton Bridge from The Rooftop Restaurant

HT Church

River Avon and Spire of Holy Trinity church from The Rooftop Restaurant

Shakespeare Hotel

The Shakespeare Hotel – one time I stayed here

Grammar School

The Grammar School, Stratford upon Avon


The Birthplace

The next morning after a leisurely breakfast and opportunity to take a walk in Stratford we headed off to nearby Compton Verney where we had a full programme of tours, a sandwich lunch and time also to walk in the park, visit the chapel and spend time (and money) in the attractive gift shop.

Approaching CV

CV and 3 piece

CV House

“10.30am Depart for Compton Verney. Set in a park designed by the ubiquitous ‘Capability’ Brown, this long-derelict house of the Willoughby de Broke family is now resurgent under the inspiration of the [Peter] Moore’s Foundation. The collections are numerous and varied. The morning will be given over to the current display of sculptures by Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin, while the afternoon will feature a guided tour of salient points of the main collection which encompasses British Portraits, Chinese Ceramics and Bronzes, British Folk Art and for Textile-buffs The Marx-Lambert Collection. You will be free to visit those parts of the collection which are your particular interest.” [Our Programme]

Moore Rodin

Moore – Rodin

Calais Burghers

Rodin’s Burghers of Calais

Moore Rodin
15 February 2014 to 31 August 2014
10th Anniversary Year – Moore Rodin at Compton Verney

This ground-breaking international exhibition compares the work of two giants of modern sculpture: Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin. This is the first exhibition to be devoted exclusively to these artists, with major works being displayed in our ‘Capability’ Brown landscape as well as in our exhibition spaces.

Fallen Caryatid

Fallen Caryatid by Rodin

Bunched figure

Reclining Figure : Bunched by Henry Moore

In the grounds
Enjoy eleven large scale works which complement, challenge and create new perspectives to vistas ‘Capability’ Brown formed in the 1760s. Amongst these amazing pieces is one of Rodin’s most famous works, Monument to the Burghers of Calais (usually on display outside the Houses of Parliament), Moore’s magnificent monumental Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae and The Arch.

Walking man on column

Rodin’s Walking Man on Column

Upright Motive No. 9

Henry Moore Upright Motive No. 9 with Chapel

Inside the galleries

Gain an amazing insight into the works of these two artists. Explore the parallels between their treatment of the figure through a beautiful collection of drawings and models made for larger works. See a special display curated by Moore’s daughter Mary which reveals both artists as keen collectors of antiquities and found objects which profoundly influenced their work. The final treat is a display of rarely seen archival documents and photographs taken by Henry Moore revealing that … ‘as time has gone on, my admiration for Rodin has grown and grown’.

After our sandwich lunch I wandered round the grounds and visited the Capability Brown Chapel.  This was built in 1776 as part of the relandscaping of the site and is one of the few surviving Georgian chapels in Britain, and one of the very few remaining architectural works by ‘Capability’ Brown. It is currently undergoing a restoration project and more funds are needed to support this work as it’s hoped to use the building in future for music and learning.

CB's chapel

The Chapel Interior

And in the afternoon we had a tour of the permanent collection – British Portraits

Beautiful display

Beautiful Displays

and British Folk Art. Currently there is an exhibition of British Folk Art at Tate Britain and this will then come to Compton Verney  from 27 September 2014 to 14 December 2014.

British Folk Art

British Folk Art

Weather vane

Weather Vane



And finally, the Marx-Lambert Collection.

Marx Lambert collection

Enid Marx (1902-1998) was one of the brightest design stars to emerge from the Design School of London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) during the interwar years. She was an author and illustrator of children’s books, a book designer, a printmaker, a textile designer and a painter.
The Marx-Lambert collection at Compton Verney features both work produced by Marx and a large number of pieces of folk or popular art which were collected by Marx and her friend Margaret Lambert (1906-95). These then inspired Marx’s own work -sometimes directly, as seen in the pair of ceramic wall-mounted cornucopia cases which inspired her ‘Cornucopia’ textile design.”

Canal art and wallpaper

Canal Art and Wallpaper

A wonderful trip full of interest and variety marred only by a 3 hour delay on the M1 due to a lorry on fire.






English Eccentricity Lives On at Renishaw Hall

On Thursday I returned from a two-day Art Fund Expedition to Compton Verney and Stratford. I never need asking twice to go to Stratford to see world class Shakespeare being performed live before my very eyes. I have made several visits over the years. So, when a flyer arrived advertising the expedition to Stratford and to include a tour of Renishaw Hall (generally very limited access) and visit to Compton Verney House in Warwickshire I was ready to sign up and go.


Our band of 25 set of from Leeds at 9.30 on Wednesday arriving at Renishaw about 10.45. Our visit began with tea (or coffee) in the Gallery Cafe followed by a personal tour of the house.

Thought for the day

Thought for the Day in the Courtyard Cafe

After a brief introduction outside we ventured inside to see the fabulous interior. Definitely the former home of eccentrics and eclectic collectors. It is a Sitwell descendant’s home. Here’s a potted introduction to the famous Sitwell siblings from the Renishaw Hall website :

Edith oversees luncheon

Edith Sitwell overlooked our luncheon. The throne is still to be seen in the ballroom.

The Sitwells

The current owner of Renishaw is Alexandra Sitwell, daughter of the late Sir Reresby and Lady Sitwell. Her extraordinary family have lived at Renishaw for nearly 400 years.

The Sitwells have always been avid collectors and patrons of the arts and the history of the family is filled with writers, innovators and eccentrics.

Perhaps the most famed of the Sitwells were the prolific writers Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell:

Dame Edith Sitwell (1887 – 1964) was a grandly eccentric poet and novelist, described by one observer as “an altar on the move.” Perhaps better known for her poetry, two of her most important works were the books English Eccentrics and Fanfare for Elizabeth

Sir Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969) wrote prose, poetry and also many short stories and novels, including Before the Bombardment (1926). He is probably best known for his five volume autobiography Left Hand Right Hand

Sir Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988) was well known for his work on art, architecture, ballet and travel and arguably his greatest book was Southern Baroque Art which secured him a reputation as author and art historian.”

But they were by no means the only family members to have influenced the Hall over the centuries.

Main Entrance

The Main Entrance of the original house still used as such today

The house was built in 1625 by George Sitwell (1601–67). The Sitwell fortune was made between the 17th and 20th centuries from iron nails, coal, land and through marriage.

Between 1793 and 1808 Joseph Badger of Sheffield made additions and alterations to the original and in 1908 Sir Edwin Lutyens made some changes; about some of which our guide was rather scathing. Lutyens was a good friend of Sir George Sitwell and forty of his notebooks were found in the attics. But he apparently did very little – Christine pointed out the black pillars, the garden doors and the ceiling of the Old Billiard Room plus the recycling of piano keys as surrounds for tapestries in the ballroom.

Sir George Sitwell (1860-1943) who had succeeded to the baronetcy in 1862  was responsible for laying out the stunning Italianate gardens in the late 19th Century. For many years he lived in Scarborough where he was the town’s MP. A Blue Plaque at Woodend his home in Scarborough now  commemorates his children Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell. He bought a castle in Tuscany and assembled the largest private collection of John Piper’s paintings.


Woodend, Scarborough

Blue Plaque Scarboro

Blue Plaque at Woodend commemorating the famous Sitwell siblings

Woodend garden

The Woodend Garden in March 2009

Besides the Pipers there was a host of other paintings including a Sir John Singer Sargent of Sir George Sitwell Lady Ida Sitwell and Family. 


Here is Ida in a gown by … Madam Clapham of Hull

The library was somewhere I could have stayed for the rest of the day – comfy sofas and chairs and with a beautiful view of the gardens; plus walls of books including lots of first half of the 20th century volumes. There are 30,000 books in the house altogether. What’s wrong with that? I say.

Several years ago whilst staying in Northamptonshire I visited the church and graveyard at Weedon Lois where Edith and her brother Sacheverell are buried. Interestingly, her gravestone is the work of Henry Moore. Weston Hall nearby was another family home of the Sitwells.

Weedon Lois

The ‘new’ churchyard at Weedon Lois in June 2009

Headstone by Henry Moore

Edith Sitwell Headstone by Henry Moore

Sitwell wording


Sitwell wording

I have always suspected that the editor of the Waitrose Kitchen free magazine William Sitwell is a member of that illustrious and eccentric family … and indeed he is cousin of the present owner of Renishaw, Alexandra Sitwell.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of Dame Edith Sitwell and I see from the website of the Sitwell Society that some interesting events are planned to coincide with this including :

1st November 2014, Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) Remembered by Chris Beevers, archivist at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire, the present day home of Lady Alexandra Sitwell (Edith Sitwell’s great-niece).
‘Edith Sitwell Remembered (1887-1964)’ commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of her death by looking back over the public and private lives of this extraordinary woman. She was not only a key 20th century literary figure but also a much loved sister, aunt and great aunt to the Sitwell family. Using material from Alexandra Sitwell’s family archive, along with published biographical information, Chris Beevers will present the life of Edith, illustrating key milestones in her personal and professional life. A complex individual, the talk attempts to reveal the ‘real’ Edith, and what lay behind her public ‘facade’ as an avant garde poet, performer and fashion figure, often labelled ‘eccentric’, as well as highlighting the literary significance of her work. It will also represent another Edith, a kind, generous and loyal friend who did much to help others in private, as well as supporting new, undiscovered talent.
Friends of the Library event. 1st November, 2014, 11.15am-midday (tea & coffee served from 10.30am) Cost: Free to members of Friends of the Library, £1 to non-members. Contact: Karen McCabe, 01723 367009 or Colin Langford, 01723 375602

After the House Tour we returned to the Courtyard where we had our soup and sandwich lunch in a separate dining room. We then had a further hour or so to inspect the gardens and courtyard shop before continuing down to Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Renishaw Shop

Inside the Renishaw Shop

Gothic Aviary

Gothic Aviary in Renishaw Garden

Renishaw and garden

Renishaw Hall and Garden

Rear of Renishaw

Rear of Renishaw Hall

Flower beds and hall

Flowerbeds and hall