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Newsletter November 2013


The HEDFAS Quarterly Newsletter

                                                                                                          November 2013
Firstly, it is our very sad duty to report the sudden death of David Bell, the Chief Executive of NADFAS:
 Tribute to David Bell  Chief Executive NADFAS
David with Gri Harrison at the
Directory Meeting March 2011
 David Bell died suddenly in September. He had held the position of Chief Executive of NADFAS for many years. He will be sadly missed by those who worked with him at all levels in the organisation. He was so approachable and sympathetic in his dealings with individual volunteers, and societies as a whole. 

   He represented NADFAS at many national art related events both in London, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and other museums and galleries. He made sure that NADFAS got the recognition it richly deserves.
                                                  Diana Hadaway
David introducing the Directory Meeting
March 2011
                                                                       A Letter from the Chairman, Pauline Simmonds


                   Gill Stevens, South Mercia Area Chairman



2013 has been another exciting and busy year as you will see from the Reports.

It was our turn to host the Area Meeting in Henley in October and we were delighted to welcome Gill Stevens, the Area Chairman, and her guests from NADFAS House, as well as committee members from 22 other Societies in the South Mercia Region. 

I hope you all enjoyed our small exhibition at the November lecture in recognition of 40 years of NADFAS Volunteering. My warm thanks to all those volunteers who contributed.

It is difficult, looking back, to pick out special highlights as Jillie, our Programme Secretary again produced a great range of lectures. But ‘Lee Miller’ and the ‘National Opera’ proved to be the most popular topics - and of course we are all thrilled to have another NADFAS/RSA success (see article further down).

I hope you enjoy the Christmas break and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.
                                              Pauline Simmonds  - Chairman

Hot off the Press!
And now a scoop - just come off the ticker tape - I can reveal from a reliable source that the holidays for 2015 are already in the planning stage. The Peak District has been chosen for April 2015 and Baroque Sicily for September 2015.  As soon as more details and dates emerge we shall let you know.  Watch this space!

 A Very Interesting Visit to City Nooks, Crannies and Churches, and Samuel Pepys
on Thursday 12th and Tuesday 24th September







Andrew Davies, HEDFAS' favourite guide and lecturer, met us on our arrival in London, putting us all in the mood for a fascinating journey round the hidden parts of the City.

We started at All Hallows Church by the Tower, the oldest church in the City of London, with a Roman floor in the Crypt from the 2nd Century AD, with building right through the centuries.  It was miraculously saved from the Great Fire of London which Samuel Pepys watched from its tower.   It was bombed in 1940 with tower and walls remaining and rebuilt after 1948.   It is one of the few City churches standing proudly alone and not squeezed by modern edifices.

Some other churches of note were St Margaret Pattens, a traditional Wren church named after the wooden platforms ladies used to wear under their shoes to keep them out of the mud.  Since the 15th Century, it has been associated with the Worshipful company of Pattenmakers.   It also contained several very ornate sword rests which gentlemen had to use during services as well as a timer for sermons;  apparently this was to show the congregation was getting full value, not for brevity as it might be nowadays.

St Dunstans is just a shell of a church with its Scotch tower but with a secret garden and creepers climbing up the walls, is one of the most atmospheric.

St Olaves, a medieval church, was bombed in the war but rebuilt afterwards.  Britain was allied with Norway against the Danes in the Battle of London Bridge  so the church was dedicated to one of their saints.   Samuel Pepys is buried here along with his wife.
We had lunch at St Katherine’s dock which was crammed with craft of all sorts dressed overall for the Thames Festival, a very gay sight.  It is now a bustling place with many more little restaurants and interesting shops than when I stayed there 10 years ago.   Ivory House, one of the main warehouses for cargo from the Far East in the 19th century, was also used to store shells – Samuel and Marcus, sons of Mr Samuel, founded an oil business and called it Shell, after their father’s shell importing business.

Lest it be thought we only looked at the old, after lunch we were noticing that the Shard could be seen from many places in the City and also saw curious new buildings like the Walkie Talkie, known as the Scorcher, as that was the building whose reflection of the sun’s rays damaged a Jaguar car recently, so is now having to be modified. 

It was noted that Richard Rodgers and Norman Foster almost seemed to have a monopoly for designing the many new buildings.   We were also asked to look all around us to see a jumble of buildings spanning many centuries, unlike many other capital cities.

Andrew gave us a wonderful tour in his own inimitable enthusiastic style. Our thanks to Shirley and Anne for organising such an interesting walking trip around our own capital city.
                                    Hilary Beck Burridge






Our Annual Young Arts Presentation on Thursday 19th September


        Elena with Dory Thompson




                Coastal Landscape
                  by Luke Simmonds

This year again our September lecture was a very special day, not just for HEDFAS, but for three exceptionally gifted Henley College Students. In conjunction with HEDFAS Young Arts, the work of these three Sixth Form students from Henley College has been selected to be put forward for a national competition. In recognition of this, Dory Thompson, vice Chairman of the South Mercia Area of NADFAS, (of which HEDFAS is a member), presented Elena Real-Davis and Shashi Sing with a prize of £50 and a certificate of excellence, before the morning lecture. Luke Simmonds was unable to be present so his prize was sent to him.

NADFAS, together with the Royal Society of British Artists, is organising their fourth annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in March 2014. Sixth Form Colleges around the country have been encouraged to put forward work to be considered for inclusion in this exhibition. Some twenty pieces will be selected.

James Horton, President of the RBA, with the help of a selection panel, will choose works to be hung alongside professional artists. They will make their decision known in November.

All successful students will have the title RBA Scholar during the exhibition itself. Naturally all NADFAS/HEDFAS members are encouraged to attend.

Elena Real-Davis painted Sea Food - Still Life, Luke Simmonds painted Coastal Landscape and Shashi Sing painted Fruit - Still Life.

Sea Food - Still Life
                     by Elena Real-Davis

Early in November NADFAS informed us that Sea Food - Still Life, painted by Elena Real-Davis, had been selected for the exhibition. Very many congratulations to Elena. This is the third year running that a picture from HEDFAS has been selected.  We are unbelievably delighted and proud of our young artists!


          Shashi with Dory Thompson

          Detail of Sea Food - Still Life

                   Fruit - Still Life
                       Shashi Sing
        Come and share our delightful holiday in Dresden, Meissen, Leipzig and Colditz from
Sunday 29th September to Thursday 3rd October

                                                                     Chapter 1 

Sunday 29th September
Arriving at Berlin airport we were met by our local guide, Susanne, and taken by coach to Dresden, to our hotel A.M. Terrassnufer, ideally situated with views over the river Elbe and close to the old town.  The accommodation, restaurant and hotel food were all up to the highest HEDFAS standards.  What a great start to our first day!

Monday 30th September
We started with an orientation coach tour of Dresden and its surroundings, followed by a shorter foot tour of the main centre.  It was difficult to believe that this was a city that had survived so many disasters over the years, including almost total destruction by the World War II bombing of 1945 and the more recent severe flooding of 2002. 

This most beautiful and well laid out city has been restored completely to its original state and in 2004 it was declared a World Heritage Site.  Sadly it lost this title in 2009 because of the controversial building of a new modern style highway bridge.

Of particular note was the statue of Augustus the Strong on horseback, looking towards Poland.  In 1552 Saxony became the leading Protestant state in Germany with Dresden as its Protestant metropolis.  In 1694 Augustus the Strong became ruler of Saxony until his death in 1737.  In 1697, after converting to Catholicism and aided by his enormous wealth, he succeeded to the crown of Poland.  This made Dresden a Royal Court of European importance.

Likewise, we were impressed by the 25,000 Meissen tiles depicting the procession of the Wettins.  This covers a considerable length of the outside wall of the Residenzschloss (Dresden Castle) which somehow survived the 1945 bombing.  Most of the city treasures had been removed and safely hidden prior to the bombing and Russian occupation.

Later we viewed the historic Green Vault and the new Green Vault which houses numerous art and valuables including the crown jewels of Augustus the Strong.  Dresden well deserves its nickname “Florence on the Elbe” or “The Jewel Box”.



 Chapter 2


Tuesday 1st October
Today we travelled to Meissen.  En route we had an excellent lecture by Sue Jenkins on how Meissen porcelain came into being.  A tour of the factory included a short film and demonstrations by expert artisans of each stage in the making of these wonderful Meissen pieces.  We now know why everything is so priceless and why our purchases from the splendid shop were, of necessity, somewhat limited!

We continued into the medieval town with its cobbled streets, surmounted by a castle overlooking the Elbe.  I well remember a pleasant lunch sitting in the old square in the sun, opposite the clock tower, listening to the chimes of its Meissen bells.

Finally we travelled to the nearby Moritzburg Castle situated on an island with fine views.  This was used as a hunting lodge and retreat by Augustus the Strong.  It contains a large collection of hunting trophies and general works of art as well as a room with portraits of a few of his favourite mistresses.


Chapter 3





 Wednesday 2nd October
Sue Jenkins took us on a morning tour of the old town explaining everything of note.  Her knowledge and expertise on Dresden was truly exceptional.  The Hofkirche (Roman Catholic Cathedral) contains many items of note including the organ, specially constructed by the renowned Gottfried Silbermann.  Regrettably he died shortly after completing his masterpiece from lead poisoning as a result of the process involved in its construction.  The white cluster of Meissen cherubs up the side of the pulpit was exceptional.  The church contains the burial vaults of the Wettins and the heart of Augustus the Strong, which is reputed to start beating again every time a pretty girl passes by!

We went on to the French styled garden and courtyard of the Zwinger palace, built to glorify Augustus the Strong.  This contains magnificent galleries of Old Masters, mathematical and scientific instruments, and a fabulous porcelain collection.  We also enjoyed Kandler’s porcelain carillon of 40 Meissen bells which played every fifteen minutes.

After lunch many of us took a return boat trip up the Elbe to Pillnitz, with magnificent views as well as sunshine all the way.  Of particular note was a splendid castle-like estate built pre-war for a famous Scottish toothpaste magnate.  At Pillnitz a splinter and adventurous group deserted the boat and decided to try to race the remainder back to the hotel.  This involved catching a tram and a short ferry trip.  Those left in the boat were greatly disappointed to find the tram contingent already sitting smugly around the bar having just got back moments earlier!



Chapter 4




Thursday 3rd October
We departed from our hotel for Colditz Castle, probably the main highlight of our tour.  On the way Peter Vercoe told us of his uncle Viktor who had been born in Russia and fought with the White Russian army. After an adventurous life he was commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers, being an expert multi-linguist. Eventually he was imprisoned in Colditz Castle.

The tour of the Castle was extremely interesting and was made all the more worthwhile by our charming guide, Isa Köhler, who had an incredible repertoire of stories which she related with relish and a great sense of humour.

We then went on to Leipzig, a famous university city which, through student and general protests, was greatly instrumental in bringing about the reunification of East and West Germany.  Lack of time only permitted a short coach and foot tour, but we did manage to go over St Thomas Church and its surroundings.  Sebastian Bach had been cantor for the church, which contains a splendid organ specially constructed for him.

We then made a hasty journey to the airport where our most successful and enjoyable tour came to an end.  Sue Jenkins escorted part of the group back to England while Alvi Shaw continued with the remainder to Berlin.
                   Christopher and Marlene Richards

A huge thank you to Alvi Shaw and Richard Lloyd for their delightful photographs of the holiday.  Editor.






  Our Celebration of 40 years of NADFAS Volunteering by Church Recorders on 15th October





On the 15th October 2013 an Area Day was held in the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Henley-on-Thames, to celebrate 40 years of Church Recording.   It was a very happy occasion with 60 members of the South Mercia Area present.   We were delighted that Alison Wakes-Miller, National Chairman of Church Recorders, was able to join us together with the South Mercia Area Chairman and Vice Chairman.

The group were welcomed by the Rector of St. Mary’s who on behalf of his fellow clergy thanked all church recorders for the valuable work they carried out. Liz Chalmers our Area Chairman began the proceedings by reminding us that this was a party and in true NADFAS style we were to enjoy ourselves.The wonderful late 14th Century Chantry House was the venue for the morning session, when after coffee, the Buckingham Group gave an interesting and professional presentation of St. Mary's Chetwood, the church they had most recently recorded  This included much of the history of this small and very lovely church sadly under threat from the proposed HS2 rail link.

After an excellent finger buffet in the Chantry House the whole group adjourned into our St. Mary’s, the record of which is nearing completion after a rewarding and enjoyable five years.   It was a most satisfactory day where members from different
societies were able to discuss interesting facts and sometimes baffling problems which come to light during a church record.All agreed that it had been a very good day in celebration of the important task that is church recording and conservation.
                                     Geraldine Crippen







 Heritage Volunteers Celebration at Stonor Park on 28th October





In March 2010, 18 volunteers from the Henley branch started their training on book conservation in order to begin work on the restoration of the library of Lord and Lady Camoys at Stonor Park, Henley. We have worked in three teams, with one team attending once every three weeks. The volunteers have worked their way through dusting, cleaning and repairing nearly 3,000 books.

The library consists of mainly religious books, some very early from the 15th century up to current editions. The smallest book was 10cm x 7.7cm (The Way of Poetry by John Drinkwater) and the largest was 55cm x 39cm (Altas Historique by De Lesage 1831). The library was completed on October 7th and we are all very proud of our finished work. Lady Camoys invited everyone to celebrate at a reception at Stonor on October 28th. 

Our next project is already planned and our team will embark on the library at Lincoln College, Oxford. We have attended a training day on November 11th, and are ready to start work on a diverse library of around 10,000 books. The future looks challenging but exciting!
                                       Ann Lincoln

                 We had a particularly enjoyable Study Day on Thursday  7th November:    
                                Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession 1890 - 1919


             The Three Ages of Woman
                   by Gustav Klimt

We were delighted to welcome Dr Anne Anderson back to Henley to lead the day. 

Dr Anne Anderson

Anne has been a NADFAS lecturer since 1994 and holds various research fellowships in Britain and the USA.  As a specialist on Art Nouveau she took us on a fascinating journey to Vienna on the eve of the 20th century.

Gustav Klimt

The artist Gustav Klimt developed a highly personal style of painting most famously in The Kiss 1907 and the Beethoven Frieze 1920.  His art reflected the contemporary preoccupations of death, sexuality and the psycho-analytical probing of Sigmund Freud.  The Secession revolutionised art and design contributing to the evolution of modernism.

Her passion for the subject and dynamic delivery was a complete joy!

It was a really successful day and hugely enjoyed by everyone.
                                      Una Murray Wood


The Kiss
by Gustav Klimt


And finally ........

 It has been said before that HEDFAS members come in all shapes and sizes .........

  "Should we play in the water or go to the HEDFAS lecture?"

What a dilemma for two of our younger HEDFAS members.

                 Another little bon mot from HEDFAS! 

We hope you have had a most happy year with HEDFAS and have thoroughly enjoyed all our activities .... including, perhaps, our new newsletters.  As always, please let us know your thoughts, ideas and criticisms:

We very much look forward to welcoming you to our first lecture on 16th January 2014 heralding another year of interest and pleasure together.

             Have a very joyful Christmas and happy New Year.