Beyond the Archive Door: Sir Cecil Beaton | Salisbury Cathedral

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Beyond the Archive Door: Sir Cecil Beaton

Posted By : Emily Naish Monday 24th November 2014

The archive contains a number of photographs, illustrations and postcards of the Cathedral, events and Cathedral personalities, the majority of these being uncatalogued and therefore mostly unknown.  


In the last few months I've been lucky to have the help of volunteers to start listing and recording these images. Of particular interest are a set of four photographs taken by Sir Cecil Beaton from the grounds of the Bishop's Palace, three with the Cathedral in the background and one with the Bishop's Palace. The photographs were probably taken in summer of 1941 as another photograph of a similar subject taken by Beaton was published in The Sketch in July 1941. Beaton lived at Ashcombe House in Wiltshire between 1930 and 1945, while in 1947 he moved to Reddish House in  the village of Broad Chalke, five miles outside Salisbury where he stayed until his death in 1980. The children in all four photographs as well as the photograph in The Sketch were the grandchildren of Bishop Lovett together with wartime evacuees, presumably billeted at the Palace.  


Bishop E Neville Lovett was the last bishop to live in the Palace.  The Palace was originally built in the thirteenth century; when the foundation stones for the new cathedral were being laid in 1220, the Bishop's Palace was actually nearing completion.  In January 1946 the Church Times reported that after the retirement of Bishop Lovett on 31 March 1946 the Palace would cease to be the home of the Bishop of Salisbury but instead be used by the Cathedral School. Immediately post 1946 Mompesson House was the Bishop's residence until 1951.


For further information about the history of the Bishop's Palace see The Bishop's Palace at Salisbury by Peter L Smith, published by Spire Books Ltd in 2013.


All four photographs can be seen in the accompanying gallery