PLEASE NOTE, our last copy is a bit scuffed and has a sale sticker on the front
Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick was the founding father of the systematic study of arms and armour. Although he died more than 150 years ago, his name is still revered by enthusiasts all over the world. His last days were spent in Herefordshire, where his magnificent collection of arms, armour and antiquities could be visited in his mock Gothic castle called Goodrich Court. The collection is now largely dispersed, but the British public can still see some of the choicest pieces at the Wallace Collection and at the British Museum.
Goodrich Court was not to the taste of William Wordsworth and other admirers of the Picturesque, particularly as it overpowered the ivy-clad towers of Goodrich Castle nearby. Those who made the tour of the building described in this book were rather more impressed. When the Meyrick family moved on, the Court enjoyed seventy years as a grand house until its idyll was brought to an end by the Second World War. After sheltering Felsted School during the war, it remained empty and forlorn until demolished in 1950. Its exotic gatehouse still remains alongside the A40 trunk road between Ross and Monmouth to intrigue the modern traveller.
Sir Samuel and the Meyrick collection played an important role in the early 19th century movement towards historical accuracy in the portrayal of correct costume in works of art and the theatre. Artists such as Bonington, Cooper, Corbould, Cottingham and Haydon sketched the armour: the architect William Burges bought items from the collection and was surely influenced by Sir Samuel’s views on medieval decoration. Meyrick’s lavishly illustrated works were an unparalleled source for later writers, and he published many historical articles. He is better known in Wales as the editor of the genealogical collections of the 16th century herald Lewys Dwnn.
Sir Samuel’s story, and that of Goodrich Court and its treasures is no dry antiquarian tale, but full-blooded and sometimes humorous. His life was a roller-coaster of public acclaim and private tragedy, played out against the military and political movements of the pre-Victorian age. Although respected for his scholarship by the royal family and the public at large, he was no stranger to scandal and controversy. At the moment of his greatest triumph he sowed the seeds of his own painful death.
Rosalind Lowe has lived in Goodrich for nine years, in a house once owned by Sir Samuel Meyrick. Her childhood was spent in the old county of Breconshire in Wales, before a professional life spent in the computer and oil industries. She now writes on the archaeology and history of Herefordshire.
Paperback | 304 pages | 246 x 174 mm | 2003
colour and b&w illustrations