The Octagon – June 2020

Greetings Friends,

I hope that everyone is weathering the storm well as it seems that the worst is over (for now) and a small sense of normalcy is starting to happen.

At the end of May, we were thrilled to hear that The Friends of Fintry were successful in their application through Canada Summer Jobs and we hope to hire two students in July to help with cataloguing the collection and to perhaps do modified tours of the Manor House and Octagonal Barn, adhering to the Worksafe BC guidelines. This will be quite a challenge particularly in the Manor House, but we are working on a plan!

We are doubtful that our September Fair will happen as we will still be governed by the “up to 50 people” policy laid out by BC Health. Our AGM normally held at the Manor House in June has been postponed to August, date TBA.

In the meantime, we would like to remind you that all memberships expired at the end of April, 2020 and we would be delighted if you would renew for another year. We do depend on our membership for not only their financial contribution, but the number of signed up members helps us when applying for grants, etc. Signed up members also receive the Octagon every month which keeps one apprised of upcoming events and lots of other interesting tidbits, such as this one following……..

An article written by our Curator Dan Bruce regarding a portrait in the Manor House living room…….

When Albert, 4th Earl Grey gave a portrait of himself to James Dun-Waters, he was following a long-standing British tradition.   The exchange of “pictures” was a token of friendship or esteem in the pre-photograph age, a custom that perhaps finds modern expression in “Facebook”.    Henry VIII ordered a portrait of Anne of Cleves to be brought for his approval before agreeing to marry her.  (That episode went sideways, although not disastrously).

John Singer Sargent, an accomplished American artist gave great satisfaction to his sitters on both sides of the Atlantic during his working life, ca. 1880 – 1920.   “High Society” were anxious to have him immortalise them on canvas, and he was kept extremely busy with portraits, but also produced landscapes and scenes of the first World War.   Some of his hunting camp scenes would certainly have earned the approval of James Dun-Waters.   Sargent was asked to paint the Coronation Portrait of Edward VII, a request which with due modesty he declined.   He was offered a knighthood in 1907, but his American citizenship prevented his acceptance.

At Fintry, Sargent’s portrait sketch of Earl Grey hangs in the living room, and is one of several copies ordered by Grey to be given out as required.  The National Portrait Gallery in London has another copy, however, theirs is autographed with Grey’s signature only, but no date as ours has.

“Earl Grey” brings tea to mind but the famous tea with the bergamot essence was created under mysterious circumstances long before this earl was born.    Albert, 4th Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada met James Dun-Waters at Cambridge University. The must have become good friends, as Dun-Waters came to Canada as the Governor General’s guest.   This is the Earl Grey that sponsored the Grey Cup, a large and somewhat contentious silver vessel, seldom if ever filled with tea!

Next time you are in the Manor House, watch out for this Earl Grey portrait hanging to the right of the fireplace in the Living room.

Hoping that this finds you all safe and well,  

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park.

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