Letter: The soul of a building doesn't depend on age

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: There was a certain irony in the juxtaposition of Tom Wilkie's article on the bombing of German cities during the Second World War ('Massacre by miscalculation', 9 August) and Anna Pavord's lament about the restoration of the National Trust property, Uppark ('A faked body, a lost soul'). The results of the restorations carried out by the Germans because of that bombing suggest that her views are mistaken.

Let me offer, as an example, Wurzburg, which was devastated in the final weeks of the war in what was surely one of the most senseless of such bombing raids. So great was the destruction, with over 80 per cent of the buildings destroyed, and loss of life that it was known afterwards as Graben am Main: 'the grave on the Main'. Given the scale of the destruction, it is not surprising that Balthasar Neumann's masterpiece, the Residenz, was a casualty, although miraculously Tiepolo's great painted ceiling survived.

The Residenz has been restored to its original glory and I invite Ms Pavord to visit it for herself. If she finds no soul there, then she will find no soul in any building. If she does, then perhaps she will come to realise that the soul is not put into a building by age, although this may add an enhancing patina. Rather it comes from the genius and integrity of the architects and artists who design it and the craftsmen who realise their plans.

Yours faithfully,

M. G. HOPE

Cheltenham

9 August

Comments