CMS NEWS

This page is reserved for news of the Church Monuments Society: news about people, places, new books, AGM minutes, annual accounts, diary of events etc. Anything that is not an event as such. Please let me know if there is anything relevant you may wish me to add. Details of events of the CMS and related societies, publications of the Society, more detailed book news, resources, the essay prize, monument of the month, symbolism, a glossary, geology, links and the latest updates may be found by clicking on the links to your left.
 
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New Publicity Officer Wanted

John Bromilow, who has been the Society's Publicity Officer for nearly thirty years, will be retiring in September. When he leaves his role will be split, and the Society would like to hear from any member who would be interested in taking over John's responsibilities as Webmaster for the Society. Please contact Jean Wilson (jlw29@cam.ac.uk) if you see yourself in this role.


Sally Badham MBE
  Members and visitors to this site will be pleased to hear that Sally Badham, active member of the CMS and a former president, has been awarded the MBE in the recent Birthday Honours. The citation included 'for services to the conservation of church monuments.
Martin Stutchfield of the Monumental Brass Society had also been awarded the MBE in the same list.
I'm sure all will join me in congratulating them both.

John Frederick Physick
To most members of the Church Monuments Society, John Physick will be remembered as the editor of the second (integrated) edition of Margaret Whinney’s Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830 [1]  and the author of Designs for English Sculpture 1680-1860 [2] and The Wellington Monument. [3] However, English sculpture and funerary monuments formed but a part, albeit an important one, of his career in the Civil Service.  

John Frederick Physick was born on 31st December 1923, the son of Nino William Physick and Gladys (née Elliott); he was a direct descendant of the Physick family of sculptors  [4] and great-nephew of the Victorian painter, John Waterhouse. The Physick family hailed from the villages of Cornwall north of Bodmin Moor and along the Tamar Valley to Tavistock, although by 1769 Edward Physick I had moved to Westminster, serving as an assistant to the sculptor Sir Henry Cheere.

Educated at Battersea Grammar School, John served as a Petty Officer Airman in the Royal Navy between 1941 and 1946 [5] before joining the staff of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1948 as a Museum Assistant in the Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design. Promoted to Research Assistant in 1949 he was put in charge of organising the Museum’s extensive archive of the lettercutter and typographer Eric Gill, producing a catalogue of Gill’s engravings in 1963. [6]

It was in 1967 that John’s career took a new direction when he became Assistant Keeper in the Department of Public Relations and Education. Part of his new duties included overseeing the production of the catalogues associated with the Museum’s major exhibitions such as Victorian Church Art (1971) and Marble Halls (1973). In 1973, with the appointment of Roy Strong as Director, John was promoted to Assistant to the Director and Secretary of the Advisory Council, posts which he held until his retirement in 1983. His appointment in 1975 as Keeper of the Department of Museum Services came at a time when the Museum was in the throes of a much-needed overhaul; John’s knowledge of the building and the history of its construction made him the ideal person to oversee the reorganisations. Indeed, the result of this knowledge was the production, in 1982, of the standard work of reference on the V&A Museum, [7]for which he gained a doctorate from the Royal College of Art.

The period 1975 to 1983 was a difficult one for the V&A with its rumours of staff restructure, and the probable release of its administration of Apsley House, Ham House and Osterley Park led to much speculation as to the Museum’s future role as the guardian of fine and applied art. John would have been the first to admit that change was needed and it was due to his skill and ingenuity that these were brought to fruition in a careful and considerate way. It is to his credit that when he retired it was a departure which was considered by the staff as the closure of the career of a great administrator. His award of a CBE in 1984 for services to the arts was welcomed by all.

Yet, for John, when one door closed a dozen opened. Having been a founder-member of the Church Monuments Society he was now free to serve as its President from 1984 to 1986, during which time he introduced Church Monuments, the annual journal of the Society. [8] Five years later, in 1991, he was appointed to the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association Advisory Committee, became its Vice-President in 1999, a post he retained for the rest of his life. He also served as a Member of Council of the Society of Antiquaries of London between 1991 and 1993 and was on the Committee of Management of the Gunnis Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1999-2007. John’s love of church monuments of the period covering the Restoration to the end of the reign of Queen Victoria put him into a position on a par with that of Rupert Gunnis with that of Margaret Whinney and Edmund Esdaile, both of whom  he knew well. John’s work for the conservation organisation within the Church of England began in 1964 when he was appointed to the Rochester Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches, a post he held until 1991, serving as its Chairman during his last five years. Subsequently, he became a member of the Rochester Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee in 1987, a post he held until 2011. Probably his most rewarding appointment was that as a member of the Council for the Care of Churches in 1978, serving as Chairman of its Monuments Sub-Committee between 1984 and 2001, sitting on many of its sub-committees. His appointment to the Westminster Abbey Architectural Advisory Panel in 1985 [9] gave him particular pleasure, as did his subsequent appointments to the Fabric Advisory Committees at Canterbury (1999-2004) and Guildford (1999-2004) cathedrals. All of this devoted and dedicated work for the Church of England was recognised by an award of a DLitt (Cantuar) in 1996 In 1990 he became one of the Founder Trustees of the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery a most appropriate appointment for it is at Kensal Green that the majority of the Physick family of sculptors, and John Waterhouse, are buried.

The list of his publications is prodigious and his encouragement of students of all ages was the hallmark of his courtesy and kindness. He became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1975, was a Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellow 1984-86 and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1977. In 1954 he married Eileen Mary Walsh, a fellow colleague at the V&A, and had two sons and one daughter, who all survive him.

John Frederick Physick CBE DrRCA DLitt FSA, museum administrator and sculpture historian, born Battersea, London 31 December 1923, died Meopham, Kent 14 October 2013, aged 89 years.

[1] M. Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830, 2nd edn rev. J Physick (London, 1988).

[2] J. Physick, Designs for English sculpture 1680-1860 (London, 1969).

[3] J. Physick, The Wellington monuments (London, 1970).

[4] These were Edward (active c.1769), Edward William (c.1774-1862), Edward Gustavus (1802-1875), Charles (b.1810), Robert (1815-1865/6), and Edward James (1829-1906).

[5] John never lost his interest in the armed services, serving in the 1832 Air Squadron RNVR between 1947-56, the London Scottish Regiment TA 1956-69, and as a Trustee of the London Scottish Regiment 1977-87.

[6] The engraved work of Eric Gill (London, 1963).

[7] J. Physick, The Victoria and Albert Museum – the history of its building (Oxford, 1982).

[8] He served again as President 1996-2001, becoming Vice-President in 2001, a post he held until his death.

[9] A post he retained until 1998.

 Julian Litten

 


Recent AGM Minutes & Annual Accounts
These may be found here (minutes) and here (accounts). Paper copies may be obtained by contacting the Publicity Officer
Twitter Account
The Society now a Twitter account which can be accessed at www.twitter.com. The CMS account is @ChurchMouments. Please feel free to follow us.
Historic Churches Magazine
The 20th edition of Historic Churches magazine has now been published and an on-line version is available here. In addition over 100 articles published in back issues of Historic Churches are also available on line here.
All articles are strictly non-advertorial and are written by leading conservators, academics, clergy and others who care for the UK's ecclesiastical heritage. The articles cover all aspect of church care including, of course, church monuments.
Cameron Newham
Cameron Newham is a Council Member of the Church Monuments Society and an outstanding photographer; click here for an article about him which recently appeared in the Yorkshire Post.

Guide Book Competition: Winning Entry
From the shortlist of six, Sir Simon Jenkins has chosen the winner: St Mary's Priory, Abergavenny, Gwent. There are many fine monuments in the church which have been restored in recent years. Congratulations to the church and the writers, editor, photographer or the guide. Further details about the presentation ceremony at the church will be posted shortly.


Bats in Churches

Bats can present a nuisance and a special difficulty in churches. Click here for some information from the Ecclesiological Society on this subject and how one North Yorkshire church has attempted - with permission, bats being a protected species - to solve the problem.



Metal Theft from Churches
Although the following Govenment e-petition is not specifically about theft from churches but rather about metal theft in general - such as, alarmingly, railway signalling cables - it is certainly relevant to churches with monumental brasses and other metal monuments and artifacts. As these can never be replaced, members and others might like to consider this petition, which is on the following site:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/406

Conservation Bulletin

Members may be interested in the latest edition (issue 66: Summer 2011) of this magazine from English Heritage, which is titled The Heritage of Death. The whole edition is conserned with the subject of monuments, memorials and related subjectd with articles which among many others include: Burial grounds: a strategy for enhanced protection, Listing Bunhill Fields, Caring for graveyards and cemetery monuments,English parish churchyards  and Restoring the Burton mausoleum. As is always the case this edition is very well illustrated, mainly in colour.

Further details: www.english-heritageshop.org.uk

Claud Blair Memorial Fund
This fund set up in memory of Dr Claude Blaire CVO OBE MA LittD FSA, our senior Vice President who died recently, for the conservation of an armoured effigy, has now closed and the proceeds sent to Puddletown church. With grateful thanks to all
 
New Shire Books on Monuments
March 2011. Shire have republished Professor Brian Kemp's book on church monuments. As we might expect from both the author and the publisher, this is an excellent book, being both informative and well illustrated.
Shire have now also published Sally Badham's book on medieval church and churchyard monuments as well as Sally Badham's & Martin Stutchfield's book on monumental brasses. The illustrations in these latter two books are in colour. These three splendid volumes present an excellent introduction to the subject of church monuments at a very favourable price. Click here for more information.
Dictionary of Sculptors
The huge ‘Dictionary of sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851’ published a couple of years ago, is going to be on line and we will keep you informed.  Many of the entries refer to memorial sculptures in churches. Information from the Ecclesiological Society