G. Baldwin (Gerard Baldwin) Brown.

The care of ancient monuments; an account of the legislative and other measures adopted in European Countries for protecting ancient monuments and objects and scenes of natural beauty, and for preserving the aspect of historical cities online

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Online LibraryG. Baldwin (Gerard Baldwin) BrownThe care of ancient monuments; an account of the legislative and other measures adopted in European Countries for protecting ancient monuments and objects and scenes of natural beauty, and for preserving the aspect of historical cities → online text (page 1 of 23)
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TIIIC purpose and scope of tlie present work are explained
in the Introduction. It is an attempt to convey in a
succinct form information as to measures in force for the
safeguarding- of ancient buildings and other objects of historical
and artistic interest ; for the maintenance of a fitting aesthetic
standard in the architecture of towns ; and for the preserva-
tion of the natural beauties of rural districts. The method
pursued is to state in the various sections of the first part of
the book the problems connected with monument adminis-
tration, and then in the second part to convey some idea of
the treatment of such problems in the past in the different
countries of Europe, and of the solutions which at the present
time are being essa)'ed.

For well-nigh a century past some of these countries have
been taking stock of their national assets in this department,
and devising the best measures they could think of for their
protection ; while within the last few years in Germany,
France, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, Portugal,
and other lands, there has been a renewed activity in all the
agencies of preservation, of which we in this country would
do well to take account. In the year 1902 alone, no fewer
than four Monument Acts were passed in European legis-
latures, and at this moment in Austria, Bavaria, Prussia,
Spain, and some other countries, laws on the subject are
under consideration. In Germany, which is now taking the
lead, there has been held for the last five years an annual
congress exclusively devoted to monument questions, and to
these meetings the various German states have sent official
representatives. There is a special organ in the press of the
fatherland, reserved for the discussion of these topics, and, in


a word, our neighbours across the North Sea are exhibiting
in their whole treatment of the subject their national spirit of
thoroughness. France also has possessed, since 1887, her
own monument periodical, and an international congress for
the protection of works of art and of monuments was held
in Paris in connection with the exhibition of 1889. The
international congresses of architects have also busied them-
selves with the subject, and that held at Madrid in April
1904, called upon all countries to form fresh associations for
the defence of monuments of history and of art. In Austria,
the great Technical High School at Vienna is establishing a
special chair or lectureship in ' The Care of Monuments'.

The attention excited in our own country by this activity
of foreign governments and peoples has not been great. A
move of some importance was made in 1897, when, on the
initiative of the Society of Antiquaries, the British govern-
ment obtained through its representatives abroad reports on
the statutory provisions for the care of historical monuments
in force in the various European kingdoms. The information
thus obtained was embodied in a Parliamentary paper, and in
the same year the chairman of council of the National Trust,
Sir Robert Hunter, added to that society's current report
a memorandum on these same agencies. These papers were
not however complete, no notice, for example, being taken in
either case of the elaborate Prussian arrangements for the
care of monuments, which occupy nearly three hundred
pages in the standard work on monument preservation of
von Wussow. Since the above date no report on the subject
has appeared in English, though the last five years have
witnessed many interesting developments in foreign countries.
On the Continent the two chief works that deal with the
whole subject, the Preservation of I\Io?unnents oi won Wussow,
and the Car-e of Monuments of Freiherr von Helfert, were
published, the one in 1885 the other in 1897, and though
more recently valuable sketches of contemporary activity
on the subject have been given by Dr Clemen and others,
yet it is believed that nothing so complete as the present


work has yet appeared abroad. Hence there seemed to be
a place, and even a prospective demand, for a narrative
of what has been accomplished and is still in progress in
this department, in the European kingdoms whose monu-
ments travellers are wont to visit and admire.

The information thus presented has been partly derived
from printed works mentioned in the bibliographical para-
graphs, and parth' from official papers, reports, etc. ; but very
much has been owed also to the kindness of correspondents
in various parts of Europe, who have, with a courtesy and
patience for which the writer cannot be sufficiently grateful,
replied to queries addressed to them, and have in many cases
sent copies of official documents which otherwise he could
hardly have procured. The chapters dealing with the separate
countries, in the second part of the volume, are preceded in
each case by a note indicating the sources of information from
which the account has been drawn, and an opportunity is
there afforded of mentioning the names and recognizing the
friendliness of the many correspondents to whom the writer is
thus indebted. He desires in this place to convey generally
to all who have helped him an expression of his sincere

In some cases official documents, or portions of them, are
translated in the text in full. These parts of the text are not
distinguished by difference of type, but attention is called to
them by the use of the inverted comma at the left hand of
every line of such quotations. In other cases a resume of the
provisions of the document in question has been found
sufficient. Many of the clauses in such instruments are purely
administrative, or are merely intended to safeguard the appli-
cation in practice of the general principle, which is the only
point of interest to the enquirer ; the}' occur in much the
same forms in all documents of the class concerned. It would
unduly have increased the bulk of the volume to have given
these clauses in extenso.

There has been no attempt to institute comparisons among
the different countries with regard to the sums officially


expended on behalf of ancient monuments. The financial
and administrative systems of the countries differ so widely
that accurate comparisons would be very difficult, even to one
practically familiar with these systems, but there is another
reason why the sums thus disbursed have not been detailed.
A comparatively lavish expenditure on monuments is not
always wholly to the credit of a country, for much of the
money is possibly spent on works of so-called restoration,
many of which had better have been left unattempted.
Restoration for the sake of restoration is the worst possible
way of spending money voted for the care of ancient monu-
ments ; and it is to be feared that a good part of the resources
lavished on monuments in England, France, Italy, and some
other countries, has been wasted on needless and inartistic
renewals. A better way to use funds set aside for these
purposes in national or civic budgets, is to spend them first
on preventive works and necessary repairs, and next on the
purchase for the general good, either by arrangement or
compulsion, of public and domestic buildings of artistic or
historical value, or of scenes and sites of natural beauty. It
is not, in a word, the mere amount that a country spends on
its monuments that is of importance, but rather the judicious
distribution of the sums available.

In the survey of what is done abroad the design of the
book is to take account only of the countries of Europe, but
there has been added a chapter on monument legislation in
certain non-European lands of old renown, such as India and
Egypt, the abundant monuments of which are largely under
European care. The inclusion of the United States would
on many grounds have been advisable, but would have
logically involved a great and undue extension of the limits
of the work. A few paragraphs on the interesting subject of
American care for monuments and for scenes of natural
beauty are however subjoined as an Appendix.

University of Edinburgh.
July 1905.





Introduction 3

1. The Significance and History of the Care of Monuments. ii

2. The Meaning of the Term 'Monument' .... i6

3. The Limit of Age for Monuments 18

4. The different Kinds of Monuments 20

5. Why should Monuments be Preserved? .... 24

6. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes ? The Function of PubHc

Opinion .......... 31

7. Means for the Preservation of Monuments : A. Private

Societies and Publications 34

8. Means for the Preservation of Monuments : B. Official and

semi-official Agencies, Museums . . . . . 41

9. Means for the Preservation of Monuments : C. Legislation,

National and Local 44

10. Restoration and Anti-Restoration ..... 46

11. ' Classement ', Inventorization, and Official Publications . 57

12. Superintendence of Excavations and Disposal of 'Finds':

Treasure-trove ......... 61

13. Prohibition of Sale or Exportation ..... 66

14. Expropriation or Compulsory Purchase .... 67





I. France 73

II. Germany 97

III. Italy 126

IV. Great Britain and Ireland 148

V. The Austrian Empire 166

VI. Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland . . . 172

\'II. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden .... 184

VIII. Russia and Finland 200

IX. Spain and Portugal 208

X. Greece and Turkey 216

XI. The Danubian Provinces 225

XII. India, Egypt, Algeria, Tunis 230

Appendix, a note on the Care of Monuments in the United

States 243

Index 249


Only general works and collections of doc7iinenfs are mentioned below.
The special works dealing with each country, with the other sources of
ififor/nation from which the notice of each country has been compiled,
are indicated at the heads of the chapters in the second part of the book.

Von Wussow, Die ErJialtung der Dettktndler in den Kulturstaaten der
Gegetnuart, Berlin, 1885.

Freiherr von Helfert, De?ikmalpfiege, Wien u. Leipzig, 1897.

Anniiairc de Legislation Etrangere, Paris, Soci^t^ cle Lt^gislation
Compar^e, 1872 f.

LAmi des Monuments et dcs Arts, Revue Trimestrielle Illustree, Paris,
1887 f.

Die Dcnkmalpflege, Herausgegeben von der Schriftleitiing des Zentral-
blaltes der Bauverwaltung, Berlin, 1889 f.

Erster Tagfiir Dcnkmalpflege, Sender- Abdruck aus dem Kortrspottdenz-
blatt des Gesamtvereitis der deutschen Geschichts- tuid Altertums-
vereine, Berlin, 1900. Report of Monument Congress.

Zweiter, Drittcr, Vicrter, Fiinftcr, Tag fiir Dcnkmalpflege, Steno-
graphische Berichte, Karlsruhe- Berlin, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904.

Reports from Her Majesty's Representatives abroad as to the Statutory
Provisions existing in Foreign Countries for the Preser-vation of
Historical Buildings, Accounts and Papers, Miscellaneous, No. 2
(1897) [c — 8443], London, 1897.

Meinorandum as to the Steps taken in various Countries for the Preser-
vation of Historic Monumefits and Places of Beauty, Appendix by
Sir Robert Hunter to the Report for 1896-7 of the National Trust
for Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty, London, 1897.

Congres International pour la Protection des Qluvres d'Art et des
Monuments, tenu a Paris du 24 au 29 Juin 1889. Proces-verbattx
Sommaires, Paris, Impr. Nat., 1889.



B. 6.




The subject of this book is the Care of Ancient Monuments,
and the term 'monument' embraces all old buildings and other
memorials of bygone days. These are heirlooms from the
past and appeal to the piety and patriotism of the present.
Their number can never be increased, but on the contrary as
time goes on they must necessarily become fewer. As the
decay or destruction of any one of them involves an increase
of value in those that endure, so the care of them will become
every year a matter of more and more urgent duty.

In our own country coming developments in public life
may give to the historic monument a worth we can hardly
now realize. Whatever may be the future in other respects
of Great Britain in relation to the Empire at large, it must
alwa)'s remain the soil in which are rooted all the traditional
memories of the race. In the tangible evidences of a storied
past, this island possesses what is necessarily wanting to our
colonies and to the offshoots from those colonies. Britain is
the land of the castle and the country seat and the gabled
cottage, of the town hall and burgher's tenement, of the
market cross, of the cathedral and the country church, institu-
tions which have behind them a continuous history of a
thousand years, and around which the nation has grown
strong enough to flourish itself and to send forth branches
that are spread over the earth. The interest which these


memorials excite in the minds of our kinsfolk from across the
seas is very great, and will probably increase as the generations
advance. The feelings thus kindled help to keep alive through-
out the Empire the sense of the unity of the stock, while anyone
who has taken American acquaintances round one of our
older cities, such as York or Edinburgh, knows how the
consciousness of a still ampler solidarity is evoked by the
antique historic scenes. These streets and houses, as well as
the more conspicuous monuments of which they are the
setting, are imperial assets, and on economic, almost on politi-
cal, grounds, the duty of safeguarding them might well be
recognized even by the least artistic and least antiquarian of
the population.

Yet it is a fact that in this country the care of these
ancestral possessions is not made a matter of imperial, or even
of national, concern. Though we can boast an Ancient
Monuments Act, it covers very little and affords even to
that little only a limited protection, while we are almost
wholly destitute of the elaborate official and semi-official
machinery of Conservators, of Commissions, and of Inven-
tories, available in almost every European country. Our
owners of monuments, whether corporate bodies or private
individuals, are as a rule unhampered by any law or central
authority in the exercise of their powers over their property.
There are in our own country monuments of national and
even of world-wide importance, that are legally speaking at
the absolute disposal of a single individual. The case of
Stonehenge, which has recently been before the public,
may be freely referred to, because the present owner of
the monument is the last person in the world to fail in care
for it. It is not for a moment pretended that such private
owners are in general indifferent to the treasures under their
charge. On the contrary, it is gladly recognized that both
individuals and public bodies are often as jealous for the safe
keeping and proper treatment of their artistic possessions as
any outsiders could possibly be ; but provision unfortunately
has to be made for cases in which owners may neglect, injure,
or actually destroy, monuments of great aesthetic or historical


value of which they have the disposal. In such cases control
is only attempted by private societies and individuals, who
appeal to the community and give a public turn to what the
parties implicated would fain keep a private transaction.
Unless there be ceaseless vigilance on the part of these
unofficial watch-dogs, acts of waste and vandalism may at
any moment be committed.

In a country like our own, redolent of ancient memories,
but at the same time astir with restless movement, the interests
at stake in this matter are too great for the British system of
'laissez-faire' to be satisfactory. The considerations (i) that
these monuments whetj once destroyed can never by any
possibility be replaced, (2) that in the minds of many they
are of extreme value, and (3) that their character and history
give them in many cases a place in the common and even in
the national life, should be quite sufficient to lead anyone
interested in public economy to doubt whether we are right
to leave the care of them in irresponsible hands. The question
at issue is the question whether national possessions should
remain in the absolute control of private individuals or
corporations, and on this continental opinion is pretty well
unanimous in the negative. Our insular way of thinking
however, and our methods of action and inaction, differ from
those in vogue on the Continent, and to the British mind the
matter presents itself in another light.

It may be of use here briefly to indicate what are, broadly
speaking, the opposing principles that underlie all discussions
as to the care of ancient monuments. On the one side then,
there may be asserted as indefeasible the right of the com-
munity over monuments in which is written the common
history, and which in centuries past have been the centres of
the common life. On the other side there may be asserted, as
equally indefeasible, the right of private or corporate owners
to do as they will with their own. We may find a classic
expression of the former principle in some phrases used in
1872 by an Italian Minister of Public Instruction when intro-
ducing before the Senate a draft Act for the protection of
ancient monuments. ' The State has a supreme interest in


using all vigilance and care for the proper custody of the
precious monuments of art and of antiquity : its intervention
is accordingly justified in all that concerns this great patrimony
of the nation. From this exalted interest is derived the
principle that the State alone can give permission for restora-
tions, removals, or works of repair ; that the State in the same
way has not only the duty of preserving the monuments so
that they shall be of service to the progress in education of
the studious, but also the duty of repressing and punishing
all attempts at vandalism ; and, as regards excavations, of
exacting in every case previous notice so that these may
never be undertaken without its leave. The same principle
gives to the State the right to interdict, save by its previous
permission, the exportation from the kingdom and the sale
of artistic works by authors no longer living, of collections of
coins, and of rare manuscripts and documents; and finally
the right of precedence in the acquisition of objects found in
excavations, and other articles of value whenever their pro-
prietor desires to sell them or send them out of the country.'

The draft Act thus introduced had for its intention
' absolutely to prevent the monuments of antique civilization
and the masterpieces of Italian art, in whosesoever possession
they might be, being in any way injured or destroyed', and
amongst its provisions it contained one according to which
any remains of ancient public buildings, such as temples or
city walls, that might come to light in excavations on private
grounds, passed at once ipso facto into the possession of the
state, the proprietor of the soil receiving an indemnity. By
another provision it was rigidly forbidden, under penalty, to
destroy or alter objects of art and antiquity, even when these
were in private proprietorship^ A member of the Committee
of the Italian Senate that reported on this draft Act used the
argument that there was an essential difference between the
inexhaustible productions of nature and of human industry,
which can be renewed at any moment, and the rare creations
of the higher intelligence that when once lost can never be
repeated or restored ; and that in the case of objects of this

^ Mariotti, La Legislazione delle Belle Arti, Roma, 1852, pp. 317, 334, 331.

INTROD.] BRITISH 'laissez-faire' 7

unique character, absolute possession, the 'jus utendi et abu-
tendi ' should not be conceded to irresponsible persons or

With such uncompromisint^ assertions of the public interest
in all national treasures of art and antiquity, assertions which
as we shall sec can be paralleled from French writers, we
may contrast the expressions of the opposite view that were
heard in the British Parliament from opponents of our
extremely mild and unpretentious Monument Act of 1882.
As originally drawn, this Act contained a clause under which
a private owner, who possessed an ancient monument and
wished to destroy it, was bound to offer it first for purchase
at a valuation by the Treasury. This limitation on the freedom
of an owner to destroy what might be a unique work of genius
and a priceless national possession the British Parliament
refused to accept, and the Act as carried contains no com-
pulsory provisions at all. Yet this innocuous measure, with
all its teeth drawn, was protested against to the last in the
House of Commons (postea, p. 153 f.) as an 'invasion of the
rights of property... in order to gratify the antiquarian tastes
of the few at the public expense ' !

It should be pointed out that this cry of the ' invasion of
the rights of property ' has been raised over and over again
in opposition to measures brought forward in the public
interest, and that such measures, limiting private rights, are
in beneficent operation all about us. Private rights in
property are being invaded every day in connection with
public works, and the principle that the community is justified
on proper grounds in interfering with these rights is in every
civilized society fully established. The practical question
concerns the propriety of these grounds, and this is a matter
in each case for consideration and argument. The Italian
speakers and writers just quoted claim a very extensive right
of interference for reasons of an aesthetic and historical kind ;
whereas the opponents of the British Ancient Monuments
Act would deny that these reasons have any validity at all.

* ibid., p. 318,


It seems pretty obvious that what we should in our own
circumstances aim at is something between the absolute
control of the state over ancient monuments even in private
hands, and the system of almost complete 'laissez-faire', which
at present prevails among ourselves. How much it would be
practicable in the present state of public opinion to demand
is a matter for consideration, and the main purpose of what
follows is to help those interested to form an opinion on the
various issues involved.

It will conduce to clearness if a little space be occupied
here with a note on the general scheme of monument legis-
lation and administration, as we find it at work on the
Continent. In all foreign countries official attention is given
to the subject, and one of the Ministers^ is in charge of the
interests of monument preservation and of amenity in general.
He has as his council a Commission of experts, and there is
generally a staff of official Conservators, Inspectors, and
Architects who carry on the active part of the work. In
some countries this consists primarily in the supervision,
upkeep, and, if need be, repair or restoration, of public
buildings under state care ; in other countries in the control
of excavations and the proper safeguarding and disposal of

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Online LibraryG. Baldwin (Gerard Baldwin) BrownThe care of ancient monuments; an account of the legislative and other measures adopted in European Countries for protecting ancient monuments and objects and scenes of natural beauty, and for preserving the aspect of historical cities → online text (page 1 of 23)