Tweed Archive: Lord Mountbatten Edition

The Jermyn Street clothiers Hawes & Curtis on dressing the Admiral of the Fleet:

He was fastidious to a degree in his appearance. No one ever saw him unshaven, dishevelled or wearing the wrong clothes for the occasion…

In 1955 he wrote to Hawes & Curtis ordering eight suits from thirty yards of special tweed material and stressed that he wanted them to undertake not to sell the pattern to any other of their clients ‘so that it remains exclusive to Broadlands’. Three months later he wrote again saying he realised that this was not practical. His correspondence with H&C reveals the extent of his attention to the smallest detail in his eternal quest to be dressed always in the correct manner.

Pictured above: Lord Mountbatten with the young Prince Charles both looking timeless circa 1975.

Tweed Archive: Prince of Wales Edition

HRH Prince Charles, writing in The Telegraph, September 2016:

I want to encourage much greater understanding of wool not only as a global environmental resource—versatile, sustainable, renewable and natural—but also as a global fashion resource of the highest quality, with a natural elasticity that makes it easy to care for and a cell structure that allows it to adapt to its environment, making it cool to wear in summer and warm in winter.

Machen on Architecture

In 1987, The Prince of Wales famously excoriated the shortsighted city planners and developers who rebuilt London after the Second World War. “You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe” he said. “When it knocked down our buildings, it didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. We did that.”

Decades earlier the weird-fiction writer and sometime Londoner Arthur Machen expressed similar sentiments. In the Spring 2019 issue of Faunus, R.B. Russell quotes a letter by Machen to Montgomery Evans around the end of the War. Machen writes:

And that brings me to the confession that I don’t curse the Germans very fiercely for their London destruction so far as the new buildings are concerned. It is we who destroyed London & wrecked the Strand, pulled down the Adelphi, abolished Clifford’s Inn (pre-Great Fire), built flats where Clements Inn once stood with green lawns. You can remember the old Café Royal: it wasn’t Germans who ruined it. And as for the Wren churches in the City: it was with great difficulty that the Bishop of London was restrained from pulling many of them down & selling the sites 20 years ago.

The Village Survival Guide

This week the Prince’s Countryside Fund released a Village Survival Guide. The 104-page booklet addresses challenges and needs facing rural communities in Britain. It follows from the belief of Prince Charles that, “The role of the countryside, with all its diversity and idiosyncrasies, in our national life is too important to be left to chance.”

The guide offers ten suggestions, including the reorientation of village life around the time-honored poles of pub, parish church, and post office. These are elaborated upon with stories and advice. Read the whole report and order a printed copy here.

Endings and Beginnings at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London closed in June of 2017 after 450 years in business. For the past 250 years the foundry has occupied premises at 32–34 Whitechapel Road. Big Ben was cast there. So was the Liberty Bell. Parts of the Grade II* listed building date back to 1670 when a coaching inn called The Artichoke stood at the site.

Now developers Raycliff intend to build a 100-room hotel on the property, absorbing the protected portions into a larger modernist complex. This would be a shame.

But the UK Historic Building Preservation Trust, an independent charity founded by The Prince of Wales, wants to buy the factory back. The Trust would run the site as a high-tech business, producing bells as it always has. According to the proposal:

In order to thrive as a working, forward-looking foundry, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry will diversify and update its bell casting techniques and materials while working to integrate the latest technology in 3D recording and output methods, acoustic recording and multispectral photography…

The Foundry will celebrate and share its prestigious history and the story of bell-making through educational exhibits and the creation of a nationwide archive of bells and their sounds. Apprenticeships and training programmes, together with school outreach activities, will be at the core of the new WBF.

Support the Trust and its work here.

Prince Charles on the London Skyline

“All around me is what used to be one of the architectural wonders of the world: London.”

In this short excerpt from the 1988 BBC documentary HRH Prince Of Wales: A Vision Of Britain, Prince Charles discusses the transformation of the London skyline and the redevelopment of Birmingham in the post-war period.  The Prince is a passionate advocate for traditional architecture and city planning. His critique of modernism is blunt, eloquent, and entirely correct.

This video has been little seen since it originally aired on Newsnight. I am delighted to have unearthed it.