Appendix 9 - Correspondence between the Director and Trustees concerning culpability

Forsdyke from Harlech.

5 Mansfield Street, W.1.


Dear Forsdyke

I am afraid I shall be out of London all this week. I have to go to Shropshire & North Wales till Thursday & spend all day at Cardiff on Friday 28th for the Annual Meeting of the National Museum of Wales of which I am President. Next Saturday to Monday I shall be with my in laws at Hatfield. So I can't attend a meeting of the sub committee on the damage to the Parthenon Sculptures.

I have written my views pretty fully to MacMillan & whatever the other members of the sub committee think I am clear that Price & Holcombe ought to be got rid of & possibly Hinks too. Price's evidence was deplorable & I don't see how he can be entrusted with responsibility any more. Holcombe obviously lied to us, & deliberately did what he did the moment the Keeper's back was turned entirely to please Duveen. The Trustees & you & the whole Museum have been let down badly, and effective disciplinary action must follow. Frankly I don't like MacMillans desire to hush it all up and minimize a very bad job.

What I mainly want to make clear is that when it comes to the Standing Committee you can rely absolutely on my personal support.

I hope the Sub-Committee will be able to report to the Standing Committee by next Saturday week.

Yrs Sincerely


My address till Thursday will be Brogyntyn, Oswestry.


Letter from Macmillan to Director


44, Millbank, Westminster, S.W.1.

19th October, 1938

My dear Director,

Sir William Bragg has suggested that it might be helpful to our investigation if we had a practical demonstration of the cleaning process by way of experiment. I agree & now write to ask if it would be possible for you to have available tomorrow afternoon a fragment of old marble (preferably Pentelic, like the Elgins) together with the cleaning materials used. We should like to have a demonstration, separately & independently, by the mason & Mr. Plenderleith & for this purpose you might kindly arrange for their attendance.

Yours sincerely,


Letter from Lord Harlech to Forsdyke. 28.Oct1938.

5 Mansfield Street, W.1.

28 Oct 1938

Dear Forsdyke

Knowing MacMillan's views I am agreeably surprised at his draft report. He has adopted a good many of my suggestions. It is of course not easy for us to say what exactly should be the disciplinary consequences without hearing further from you your considered advice.

If the Standing Committee is on Nov 5th I am afraid I cannot possibly be there as I have to attend the quarterly meetings of the Shropshire County Council in Shrewsbury that day to be sworn in etc. as an Alderman in place of my father.

I'll attend the subcommittee on Tuesday but I have to be at Broadcasting House at 7 p.m. to broadcast to the Dominions on the short wave at that hour.

Yours sincerely,




Letter from Forsdyke to Lord Chancellor dated 25th November 1938


The Rt. Honble The Lord Chancellor, The House of Lords, Westminster, S.W.1.

25th November, 1938

Dear Lord Chancellor,

The Board of Enquiry, which has been investigating the facts of the damage done to the Parthenon Sculpture, will present its Final Report to the Standing Committee of the Trustees on Saturday, December 10th, and the questions of disciplinary action which are involved will be submitted to the General Board on the same day.

The dismissals of two senior officers of the Museum will have to be considered, and since the whole matter is exceptionally important, and staff appointments are particularly the concern of the Principal Trustees, I think that you may wish to be present, and hope that you may be able to do so.

I shall send you a draft of the Final Report as soon as it is ready.

Yours sincerely,

E. J. Forsdyke (sgd)

Director and Principal Librarian

Letter to the Director from the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres

9th November 1938

7 Audley Square, W.1.

Dear Sir

I am shocked by the report about the Parthenon sculpture. If all is well, I shall attend on Saturday. I keep asking myself why the cleansing process upon the metopes had not been detected.

Yours sincerely,

Crawford & Balcarres

The Director

British Museum



Lambeth Palace, S.E.1.

10th November 1938.


Dear Forsdyke,

I thank you for sending me a copy of the Interim Report of the Board of Enquiry into the damage done to the Sculpture of the Elgin Marbles. I have read it with care and with very great distress. I cannot imagine how able and responsible people like Messrs Pryce and Hinks can have shown such culpable carelessness. But we shall read or hear what they have to say when the Standing Committee meets on Saturday. I am very sorry that this painful episode should have occurred.

Yours very sincerely,

Cosmo Cantuar


Letter from W. H. Bragg to Forsdyke, January 11 1939.

The Royal Society

Burlington House

London W1

January 11. 1939

Dear Forsdyke,

I shall not be able to attend the meeting of the Standing Committee on Saturday as I shall be out of town. I take my Christmas holidays rather late because I must be at the Royal Institution when the children's lectures are given.

I have no suggestion to make respecting the third report of the Parthenon Committee. I would however like to say that if the Standing Committee could see their way to reducing Hinks' ten years to five, I should be pleased. I think that the firm steps that have been taken will lead to radical improvement; and the damage to the sculptures has fortunately been approximately repaired, in appearance at least. It might be possible now to relax the first severity without impairing the effect of the disciplinary action.

I shall be at the Royal Society tomorrow (Thursday). If it suited you to send papers there for my signature I would return them at once.

Yours sincerely,

W. H. Bragg