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Lecture Report – “Recording Britain”

The Interior of Coventry Cathedral – as recorded by John Piper – after the bombing on 14 November 1940 

The art and design historian, Dr Graham Twemlow, gave a talk to the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group on 3rd March on Recording Britain: celebrating the Country’s natural beauty and architectural heritage.

The Recording Britain Project was undertaken at the outbreak of World War II, with the intention of capturing in the tradition of 18th century watercolour the character of Britain’s landscape when threatened by possible destruction.  It was funded by an American charity and coordinated by Sir Kenneth Clark, then director of the National Gallery. A total of 63 artists were engaged to produce works for exhibition in the Gallery while much of its collection had been evacuated for safekeeping.

Besides famous names, such as John Piper, the artists commissioned included lesser-known painters such as Stanley Anderson of Towersey, a copperplate engraver who specialised in the representation of crafts. More local names include Harold Hussey, whose work featured Hurley and who lived at Pheasants Hill Farm, Hambleden;  and Wilfred Fairclough, who produced images of Henley. Many of these pictures were reproduced in a book published after the War and all are now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

N.B. Harold Hussey was also a founder member of the HA&HG and a great collector of farming implements including a large harvest wagon, which had once belonged to his Chiltern farmer ancestor, Thomas Prince. (R.G. contribution)

Below we include three photographs, from the 1930s, of that old harvest wagon collected by Harold Hussey, with and without the harvested corn,  and people on it. One is showing it with a tractor instead of horses pulling it. Not part of the talk, but lovely farming history on the cusp of change.