PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR VARIOUS NEWS ITEMS, INCLUDING THE AWARD BY THE PM
JUNE 2017 - SUMMER OUTING TO GREENWICH
This visit Wednesday 21st June to the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich will include a unique opportunity to have close-up view of the meticulous cleaning and repair work that is taking place on the ceiling of the Painted Hall. This will be described by Will Palin, Conservation Director, and Stephen Paine of Paine & Stewart Conservation Ltd.
This painting, by Sir John Thornhill, is the largest painted hall in Great Britain. In addition, we will have a guided tour of the Chapel, which has one of the finest 18th-century interiors in the country, and also the Grounds, the Admiral's House and the Skittle Alley. At the end of the tour, there are other places to visit, such as the recently restored Queen’s House, the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark, St. Alfege’s Church and the Park.
Tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival. The visit to the Painted Hall will begin at 11.30am. There will be a break for you to buy a picnic lunch or lunch in the Old Brewery or elsewhere. In the afternoon, we have a tour of the Chapel, the Grounds, the Admiral’s House and the skittle alley. The guided tour will end at 3.45pm. Booking by 14th June. This visit is limited to 25 people: it is advisable to apply early to avoid disappointment.
Cost per person £30, including a donation to The Friends.
You may download a flier here (354KB PDF).
Images ORNC © thedpc.com, upper photograph by Andrew Thompson.
APRIL 2017 - EGYPT AND CZECH EGYPTOLOGISTS: THE IMPORTANT BUT LITTLE-KNOWN CONTRIBUTION MADE BY CZECH ARCHAEOLOGISTS
On 5th April 2017 Suzanna Bojtos of Birkbeck College gave a fascinating talk, illustrated by excellent slides, on the contribution made by several Czech scholars to the excavation, preservation and interpretation of ancient Egyptian temples, tombs and inscriptions.
The first important Czech Egyptologist was František Lexa (1876-1960), who deciphered the inscriptions in the ancient Egyptian demotic language on the Rosetta Stone (now in the British Museum) discovered in 1798. He became the first Professor of Egyptology at Charles University in 1927 and the first Director of the Czechoslovak Institute of Egyptology in 1956. Lexa’s pupils included Jaroslav Černý (1898-1970), who for many years took part in the excavations at Deir el-Medina, a unique site that was a village inhabited by artisans working on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and their families. He became Professor of Egyptology first at University College London and then at Oxford University.
Another of Lexa’s pupils was Zbyněk Žába (1917-1971), who participated in the removal and relocation of temples (notably the two at Abu Simbel) threatened with being lost forever through the construction of the Aswan High Dam. He later became Director of the Czechoslovak Institute of Egyptology in succession to Lexa. All three of these Czech Egyptologists produced important books in several languages on their work and discoveries. It appears that items from Egypt held in Prague, in the Naprstkovo Museum are not exhibited publicly at the moment.
The event was organised with the cooperation of the Embassy of Slovakia.
Photograph of Suzanne Bojtos copyright FoCH.
IMAGES: clockwise from top left: courtesy of lecture, ©Olaf Tausch, courtesy of lecturer.
March 2017 - Mr John Martin is organising a memorial at Ightfield in Shropshire, commemorating the friendship between the Ellison family and the two Czechslovak parachutists Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš. These men flew home from England in 1941 to take part in the assassination of Deputy Reichsprotektor Heydrich in the following year. The film 'Anthropoid' (2016) deals with the story following their arrival in occupied Bohemia and Moravia in 1941. John Martin was a special advsier to the film director Sean Ellis, and regularly leads tours to sites connected with the events of 1942.
Image: a postcard from Malvern sent by Jozef Gabčík to Lorna Ellison in 1941
John Martin has organised an engraved stone to commemorate the parachutists' time in Shropshire and this will be unveiled on Sunday 23rd July at the Church of St John the Baptist, Ightfield. If you can help in any way, please contact John Martin at the following address.
RBS account name 'The Mirror Caught'
Account number: 15717843
Sort code: 83 04 25
March 2017 - The Friends presented a lecture MARTINŮ IN HIS TIME – THE RECORDED LEGACY on 7th March in the Embassy of Slovakia, London, given by Patrick Lambert, a musicologist with a particular interest in the life and works of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959), generally considered to be the fourth most important Czech composer after Smetana, Dvořák and Janáček, though much of his life was spent abroad.
Photograph, Patrick Lambert, left, at the lecture with the composer and musicolgist Karel Janovický. Copyright FoCH
Martinů was born in Polička, a small town close to the border between Bohemia and Moravia, and spent the first eleven years of his life entirely in a tiny room at the top of the church tower there, as his father had taken on the duties of fire-watching, ringing the bells and tending the clock.
The young Martinů went to Prague as a music student but soon gave up the violin in favour of composing. After initial success as a composer he went to France and never returned to live in Czechoslovakia, though he continued to have many contacts with Czech musicians and conductors.
Images above from left: Martinů in middle age (courtesy of publisher), inspecting a record in the USA (©BMC Polička), the tower in Polička where he was born (©Petr1888).
In 1940 he left France for America as he was on a Nazi blacklist and his compositions, especially five symphonies composed for American orchestras, had great success there. After the War he returned to France but did not go back to Czechoslovakia, initially because of a serious accident but later because of the Communist coup there. His music was not played in Czechoslovakia at the height of Stalinism but he continued to compose until his death in Switzerland in 1959.
Patrick Lambert illustrated his talk with a number of extracts from recordings of Martinů’s works made during his lifetime, mostly recordings made in France and America, as well as in Czechoslovakia.
The event was organised with the cooperation of the Embassy of Slovakia.
MARCH 2017 RELEASE - Lada Valešová, who is a supporter of The Friends, is releasing a CD on 3rd March: together with three song cycles, Valešová is performing the world première recording of a chamber piece for piano quintet and tenor, 'Fata Morgana' Op. 6 by Pavel Haas (1899–1944). The CD will be available for purchase both as a physical copy or a high resolution download from the Resonus Classics website from the 3rd March onwards: http://www.resonusclassics.com.
Works on the CD:
'Sedm písní v lidovém tónu', (Seven Songs in Folk Style), Op. 18,1940
'Fata Morgana', Op. 6, 1923
Rabíndranáth Thákur, Zahradník
Čínské písně, (Chinese Songs) Op. 4, 1921
Čtyři písně na slova čínské poezie (Four Songs on Chinese Poetry),1944
Nicky Spence, tenor/ James Platt, bass/ Anita Watson, soprano /Anna Starushkevych, mezzo-soprano/ Navarra Quartet/ Lada Valešová, piano & artistic director
Lada Valešová writes, "I first came across the music of Pavel Haas while researching the links between the Czech composers and their students. This line of enquiry led me from Leoš Janáček to Pavel Haas, one of his most significant and original students.The unique fusion of the local Moravian folklore influences, of jazz and film music of his time (his brother Hugo Haas was one of the most popular actors in the pre-war Czechoslovakia), with the echoes of the synagogue chants, which he heard as a child when visiting his uncle, a Jewish community cantor. The ambition behind this album is double: to share the exquisite song cycles by Pavel Haas, and to present, for the first time, the magic of his 'Fata Morgana' to a wider audience, but it is also to inspire others to get hold of the music, to study it, and make it a regular part of the repertoire on records and concert platforms. The legacy of Pavel Haas deserves that, and more."
January 2017 - Peter Kysel, our Treasurer, joined members, visitors and friends of the Rotary Club Prague International in the city. Peter is an experienced Investment Banker and Consultant and has been actively involved in the voluntary sector since 1986.
Christian Noll wrote about the event on the Rotary Club's website: 'Peter explained that his organisation uses their funds as seed corn to leverage further fund and to set projects off on a path to completion. "Very often a relatively small sum will will demonstrate to others that the project has backing and other grant money will begin to flow," said Peter. The organisation also helps in very practical ways by organising volunteers where willing and able individuals spend time physically working on a project. "No experience necessary," explained Peter, "we provide all the know how - you just have to be willing and have a pair of gloves and boots". ...help owners of historic buildings to consider how to preserve the building whilst always bearing in mind that an ultimate purpose and use is really important. "We restore and preserve so that the building has a use. Without this it would fall into disrepair again in 5 years," said Peter. The club thanked Peter for a very interesting and enlightening talk.'
Image: left, Sanan Phutrakul of the Rotary Club Prague, with our Treasurer Peter Kysel. Image copyright RCPI Club.
January 2017 – AN AWARD FOR ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS
UK Prime Minister Theresa May recognised the conservation work of a dedicated British citizen volunteering in the Czech Republic and has named her a 'Point of Light'. The citation reads:
'Barbara Peacock is an architectural historian and a founder of The Friends of Czech Heritage. Inspired by the beauty of the Czech Republic’s many stately homes she set about fundraising in order to repair, preserve and enhance historic buildings, gardens and parks in the country. Working with local partners, the charity has been involved with thirty conservation projects, organised eleven working parties of mostly British volunteers to work on heritage sites throughout the Czech Republic, and has contributed over 500 'man days' of volunteer work at the Château of Červený Dvůr. The internationally renowned architect and designer Eva Jiřičná and MP Greg Hands are patrons of the charity.'
Barbara is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. In a letter to Barbara, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
'Your unique work with ‘The Friends of Czech Heritage’ is harnessing British passion for heritage and volunteer power to repair, preserve and enhance the many beautiful historic buildings, gardens and parks across the Czech Republic.
Across the world British volunteers like you are helping to build a better world for everyone. The Point of Light award is a small thank you on behalf of the whole country, in recognition of your exceptional service.'
'The Czech Republic is a small country with an outstandingly rich architectural and artistic heritage that was seriously endangered after years of post-war neglect. The determination of the Czechs to restore their patrimony despite a severe shortage of funds inspired the creation of the British charity The Friends of Czech Heritage. I am thrilled to receive this award from the Prime Minister and to accept it on behalf of all those who have worked so hard to instigate many restoration projects, thereby bringing a wider recognition of the Czech cultural heritage.'
Please see the Friends in the Media for news coverage in the Czech Republic.
Image of Barbara Peacock © Jocelyn Rendall
January 2017 - SUMMER SCHOOL OF SLAVONIC STUDIES
The Czech Ministry of Education Youth and Sports offers scholarships for the Summer School of Slavonic Studies 2017, being held in various centres in the Czech Republic from July to Septemeber.
The Summer School is designed for foreign students, teachers, translators and interpreters and other experts active in the field of Czech/Slavonic studies. Due to their broad scope the studies are, however, open to anyone else who is interested in the Czech language, literature, history and culture. Here is a link to the web page with more information about the Summer School: http://www.msmt.cz/eu-and-international-affairs/summer-schools-of-slavonic-studies?lang=2
Poděbrady 03 July – 28 July 2017/
Plzeň/Pilsen 10 – 28 July 2017/
Brno 15 July – 12 August 2017/
Olomouc 22 July – 20 August 2017/
Prague 28 July - 25 August 2017/
České Budějovice 21 August 2017 - 08 September 2017.
Image:Brno, copyright Norbert Aepli.
December 2016 - The Friends announced a lecture by Patrick Lambert, based on his latest book, on Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 6.30pm in the Embassy of Slovakia, 25 Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8 4QY.
The writer, broadcaster and lecturer on music Patrick Lambert worked for BBC Radio 3 as a music producer for 25 years. He has a special interest in Czech music, particularly Janáček and Martinů. His conference papers on both composers have been published and in the early 1980s he devised a ground-breaking programme about Janáček's Intimate Letters String Quartet. He will be illustrating his talk with some of the rare and historic recordings discussed in his new book.
Price £15 including a glass of wine. You may book here.
To pay at the door please notify us:
You may download a flier here (505KB Word.doc).
THE FRIENDS' WORKING HOLIDAYS IN 2017
Saturday 3rd to Saturday 10th June 2017.
The Seventh Year of Restoration at Červený Dvůr, an estate that was once the summer residence of the Schwarzenberg family and is now a sanatorium. Participants will work on the restoration of an 18th-century gardener’s cottage on the estate and help to recreate the formal gardens of the château. Image by D. Chick.
Saturday 8th to Saturday 15th July 2017.
Upgrading works in the gardens and maintenance work to the Stiassni Villa, an example of Functionalism, situated in Brno, the attractive city in Moravia in the Czech Republic. Designed for the wealthy textile industrialist Alfred Stiassny by the architect Ernst Wiesner in 1927, this large villa sits in a garden on an extensive sloped plot of land. Image by Židlický.
Friday 8th to Friday 15th September 2017.
Restoration of the renowned landscape garden at Krásný Dvůr, which was founded in 1783–1793 by a Czech aristocrat influenced partly by his botanic inclinations and also by his journey around Western Europe, where he saw the new landscape style from England. Participants will work on some of the monuments on the site. Image by Milan Svoboda.
For details or to book a place, apply to Peter Jamieson at or at or at
NOVEMBER 2016 - LECTURE IN LONDON
Dr. Peter Cannon-Brookes, who knew Franta Bělský (who died in 2000) and Irena Sedlecká over a long period of time, gave a talk at the Slovak Embassy on the work of these two portrait sculptors of Czech origin, who came to England in 1948 and 1967 respectively and married each other in 1997. Both were trained in the Central European sculptural tradition in Czechoslovakia and executed a number of sculptural commissions there before they emigrated.
Photo above: Dr. Peter Cannon-Brookes
Dr. Cannon-Brookes showed slides of many examples of their work, notably portrait sculptures that they created in Britain of well-known people, including royalty, politicians, military leaders, artistic performers, literary figures and popular musicians. Some of their commissions were won in spite of the pre-eminence in Britain of other notable portrait sculptors such as Jacob Epstein and Oscar Nemon. There were also slides of non-portrait works, including a fountain by Bělsky formerly outside the Shell Building on the South Bank and his Triga (Three Horses) outside the Caltex Building in Knightsbridge.
Following the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia several works by Bělský were installed in the Czech Republic, including a bust of Sir Winston Churchill which stands outside the British Embassy in Prague.
Image: CLOCKWISE From top left, 'F.Mercury' by Sedlecka ©Bernd Brägelmann, the rest by Bělský, 'Kenneth Williams' ©PC-B, 'Churchill' ©Matěj Bat'ha, 'John Piper' ©PC-B
SEPTEMBER 2016 - LECTURE IN LONDON
'THE BATTLE OF WHITE MOUNTAIN (1620) AND THE POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS TRANSFORMATION OF BOHEMIA'
On 27th September 2016 Dr. Mark Whelan, a Teaching Fellow at Royal Holloway, part of the University of London, gave a very lively lecture at the Slovak Embassy about the context and consequences of the 1620 Battle of the White Mountain (a hill outside Prague) in which the forces of the Catholic Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand the Second routed those of the Calvinist King Frederick the Fifth, who had been elected as their king by the Bohemian nobility.
Ferdinand thus secured the throne of Bohemia for himself, and Dr. Whelan explained how this drew most of Central Europe into what became known as the Thirty Years' War, and what profound changes resulted from Ferdinand’s crushing victory. Bohemia and Moravia were re-catholicised, with Protestants being offered a choice of converting or emigrating. Twenty-seven leading nobles were publicly executed in Prague and large areas of land were confiscated and handed over to Ferdinand’s supporters of various nationalities. The administration of the Bohemia and Moravia was transferred from Prague to Vienna and the Czech lands did not recover their independence for three centuries.
IMAGE OF THE BATTLE BY PIETER SNAYERS
SEPTEMBER 2016 - OUTING TO THE ARCADIAN THAMES
In fine late-summer sunshine a group of some twenty Friends and supporters gathered at Ham House near Richmond for a leisurely walk along the banks of the 'Arcadian' Thames. Ham House with its formal gardens (see photograph, right) and vistas rolling out into the surrounding suburban countryside gave us a sense of the contrived rural idyll that inspired the builders of the house.
From Ham we crossed the Thames by ferry to Marble Hill house and then enjoyed a stroll by way of shaded lanes passing through the secluded gardens of Orleans House and York House. Close by was Eel Pie Island and various waterside pubs mingled with the recently opened Alexander Pope memorial garden and other public gardens, once the site of Pope's villa and grotto: a uniquely British conglomeration of unintended experiences.
Our final destination was Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill and the remarkable splendours of Walpole's Neo-Gothic creation, see photograph, left. With the sun lighting up the stained glass and glinting on the guilt ornamentation, the original power and novelty of Walpole's creation was forcefully apparent. Our thanks are due to Chris Sumner for his absorbing commentary as we passed along.
Images copyright Linda Wade.
SEPTEMBER 2016 - WORKING HOLIDAY AT KRÁSNÝ DVŮR
A group of UK and Czech volunteers spent a week working to restore features in the famous landscape park at Krásný Dvůr in western Bohemia, part of the Czech Republic. This is one of the first landscape gardens on the Continent in the English style, and was much admired by Goethe.
In glorious, hot September weather they uncovered steps and paths long-since impassable to allow public access to the important 18th-century feature of the Hermit's Gorge.
The working party was a joint venture between The Friends of Czech Heritage and Czech National Heritage Institute. Following the success of the week further volunteer working holidays are being planned for 2017.
As with our other working parties over the years, there was considerable press interest in the project.
Previously we had most UK and non-Czech participants, but now we are seeing more Czech residents taking part, and the hope is that the principle of volunteeting will spread more widely.
August 2016 - A grant to Skanzen Chanovice
Some building types get much more exposure when it comes to saving a nation’s heritage whilst others receive scant attention. Rural agricultural buildings especially belong to this group. They are often very rare because they are undervalued and many were destroyed in the days of rural collectivisation. The Skanzen, an open-air museum, seeks to remedy this by collecting and re-siting these humble buildings in much the same way as the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex. It can be argued that moving a historic building destroys its credibility but in this case the move has to be balanced against the likelihood of total loss. We have therefore offered a grant for repairing one of the barns.
July 2016 - A grant to St James's Church, Bedřichův Světec
In the rural unsung areas of the Czech Republic small groups are trying to reclaim their local heritage. Like the Zámek at Čečovice and St Nicholas's Church at Petrovice, which we reported on in our last Newsletter, the local action group is restoring the church for community use. Although much of the work has been done by volunteers, the rebuilding of a critical section of the churchyard wall has to be carried out professionally. We have made an offer of a grant to enable this work to be completed.
July 2016 - A grant to the Probošt House, Vyšehrad, Prague
Close to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul and the National Cemetery, the Probošt House, now occupied by a kindergarten, has within it some fine early-18th-century frescoes. These are ‘listed’ and have been conserved. The windows, replaced in the 1980s, were sub-standard and are now in very poor condition. The frescoes are in danger of degrading. Our offer of a grant toward the cost of replacement has resulted in further funding from elsewhere. Two of the trustees are making individual donations to these two projects in Prague.
July 2016 - A grant towards the adaptation of the Hussite Church in Prague Smíchov
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church as an institution was founded on 25th July 1920 and gave Prague several significant and interesting buildings, mostly in the Modernist architectural style. Amongst these is the property of the Jan Hus Congregation in Smíchov, whose outstanding tower alters the perspective of the busy street called ,U Santošky'.
The building dates from 1935, having been designed by the architects E. Sobotka and S. Vachta in 1933. Construction was carried out in ten months by the firm of Václav Nekvasil from Karlín. The predominant material used for the building was concrete.
Although not ‘listed’ it is a fine example of its type with a spectacular worship space with contemporary furniture and stained glass, and stands in a commanding position overlooking the neighbourhood. Sadly, the congregation has declined and the worship space is no longer used. In order to make it sustainable a scheme has been developed to turn a part of the worship space into an exhibition to celebrate the association of the Czechs and Italians who were together caught up in the First World War, an association still very much alive today.
We have offered a grant towards the conservation of the worship space, which has allowed the church community to obtain further funding from other sources.
June 2016 - WORKING HOLIDAY
The Friends' working holiday at Žďár nad Sázavou included maintenance of the Lower Cemetery (which was in fact never used for burials) and ran 11th-18th June. The site was built by the famous Baroque architect J. B. Santini-Aichel, and the work means that it can now be opened to the public. Tasks involved simple building work, some clearance and preservation work and simple terrain work. During the week there was the chance to visit some of the region’s houses and castles. The UNESCO pilgrimage church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora forms part of the complex. Peter Jamieson, Chairman of the Friends was interviewed for two television news reports that also mentioned our other support at the complex since 2008.
Image courtesy of Czech Television, showing reporter Dušan Vrbecký, live on the Studio 6 programme (at 32 minutes, 25 seconds), click here.
Image courtesy of Czech television, showing reporter Dušan Vrbecký, live on the Studio 6 programme.
The Czech daily newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes MDF covered our working holiday at Žďár nad Sázavou in Moravia, likewise the local newpaper Žďárský deník. A lot of goodwill was generated as our volunteers, both from the Czech Republic and the UK, worked on this famous site. Click here for Televize Vysočina's report.
May 2016 - The Trio Soane gave a very enjoyable recital at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic on Thursday 19th May. Their programme skilfully blended Viennese classicism (Beethoven - Piano Trio no. 2) with works from the Czech repertoire, Dvořák's Mazurek and Josef Suk's Song of Love for violin and piano, and Martinů's Variations on a Theme of Rossini for cello and piano. Adéla Ševčíková (violin) and Corinna Boylan (cello) showed off their skills both as soloists and as ensemble members, and they were brilliantly accompanied by Marzia Hudajarova on the piano. Let us hope that their continuing studies at the Royal Academy of Music will bring them further awards and recognition.
The concert was sponsored by Mr Ivan Koenig, to whom The Friends are very grateful.
Event organised with the cooperation of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic
Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Trio in E flat major No. 2, Opus 70
Antonín Dvořák - Mazurek in E minor, Opus 49
Josef Suk - Song of Love in D flat major, Opus 7
Bohuslav Martinů - Variations on a Theme of Rossini in D major, H. 290
Violin - Adéla Ševčíková
Born in the Czech Republic, she studied at the Janáček Academy in Brno with Miloš Vacek, the leader of the Janáček Quartet. She is currently supported by a grant from Velehrad London.
Cello - Corrina Boylan
A graduate of Columbia University and principal cellist of its orchestra for four years, she works both as an academic and musician.
Piano - Marzia Hudajarova
Brought up in Azerbaijan and the Netherlands, she has recently moved to London to develop her career as a soloist and chamber music perfomer.
May 2015 - The Friends were invited to attend the Leamington Music Festival Weekend this year because of the major Czech emphasis of the musical programme and the longstanding association of Leamington Spa with the Czech and Slovak nations.
In between the superlative music making by various internationally-renowned Czech quartets, who provided a feast of Czech music for us, we were able to talk to members of the audience and engage their interest in our work. There was also time to stroll around the Jephson Park nearby and to contemplate the memorial to the Czech and Slovak airmen who assassinated Heydrich, the Nazi Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia.
Photograph: left to right Ian Kennaway, joint founder of The Friends, Peter Jamieson, Chairman of The Friends, Ivan Koenig and Daniel Lowbeer of the Lowbeer Trust, Richard Philips, Director of the Leamington Spa Festival. Photography courtesy of Ian Kennaway.
April 2016 - The Chairman and Treasurer of The Friends of Czech Heritage had a meeting with H.E. Mr L'ubomir Rehák at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in London. The Friends have held many events at the Embassy over the years, and discussion revolved around the development of contacts and cooperation with organisations involved with Slovak heritage. It was very positive and there are various initiatives that we hope to explore, in particular the promotion of joint volunteer working parties. From left to right, Peter Jamieson (Chairman of The Friends), Ambassador Rehák, and Mr Peter Kysel (Treasurer of The Friends). Photo courtesy of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic.
April/May 2016 - The Leamington Music Festival Weekend
The 2016 Leamington Music Festival Weekend, which runs 29th April to 3rd May, celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Martinů String Quartet and the thirtieth anniversary of the Guarneri Piano Trio, another leading Czech ensemble.
The principal venue for the Leamington Music Festival Weekend is the Assembly Hall of the Royal Pump Rooms, which dates back to 1814, and in which, during World War Two, the Czech Free Army Choir used to rehearse under Vilém Tausky. The Czech Free Army was based in Leamington and the surrounding area from 1940 to 1942 and the nearby Jephson Gardens contains the monument commemorating the Czech and Slovak soldiers parachuted into Czechoslovakia to assassinate Heydrich, the Nazi Protektor of Bohemia and Moravia.
The 2016 Festival Weekend has a programme predominantly of Czech music, with the Martinů Piano Trio joining the Martinů String Quartet and the Guarneri Piano Trio to give over half the concerts. The London Haydn Quartet, Ensemble 360, the organist Nicholas Morris, baritone Simon Wallfisch, pianist Simon Callaghan and cellist Gemma Rosefield also contribute in other concerts.
You may download the press release here (438KB PDF).
March 2016 - Lecture: 'Reuniting Fourteenth-century Prague: Charles IV and his Gothic Bridge'
Dr. Jana Gajdošová of the History of Art Department at the University of Cambridge gave a comprehensive lecture, copiously illustrated by photographs and plans, on the building of what is now called the Charles Bridge after the King of Bohemia (and Holy Roman Emperor) Charles IV, who commissioned the building of the bridge in 1357 to replace the earlier Judith Bridge, which had collapsed in 1342 as a result of exceptionally severe flooding of the River Vltava.
Dr. Gajdošová particularly emphasised that Charles IV was concerned not only to restore communication across the Vltava but also to reunite both physically and symbolically the long-established Old Town and the New Town; he founded the latter in 1348 – the same year as he founded Charles University. The New Town and Charles Univesity are both situated on the right bank of the river, while the Lesser Quarter (Malá Strana) and the Castle district (Hradčany) are on the left bank. Charles IV had himself initiated the construction in Hradčany of both a royal palace and the St Vitus Cathedral in the Gothic style that he had come to admire so much during his upbringing in Paris. His overall aim was to make Prague into a capital city worthy to stand alongside the other great European capitals.
Wine for this event was sponsored by Ace Cultural Tours - www.aceculturaltours.co.uk
You may download a flyer about a tour to the Czech Republic here (537KB PDF)
February 2106 - Phase 1 Conservation of the Baroque choir stalls at the Abbey Church of Žďár nad Sázavou, a UNESCO-listed site , completed with the help of The Friends of Czech Heritage
The Friends have supported a number of conservation projects at this important abbey church, which was the work of Jan Blažej Santini Aichel. These have included the confessionals and the altar. The latest project has been the conservation of the Baroque choir stalls, which began in in 2014. The first phase, for which The Friends gave a grant, was completed in the autumn of 2015 and we were pleased to receive photographs of the work in early 2016. The second phase will be complete in the spring of 2016. We received a bequest from the estate of Alastair Gibson, a former member, and we used part of the monies towards the work.
Father Vojtěch Záleský writes from Žďár: "We appreciate the Friends' continuous support and help. It is not unusual to find a helping hand but it is very unusual to find it from such a distance that lies between Žďár and London. It is our common cultural and architectural heritage and our common faith and shared interests that connect us. I would like to thank you personally for your decision to help and for building a friendship across borders. Please extend our thanks and prayers to all the members of The Friends of Czech Heritage."
January 2016 - Our Chairman Peter Jamieson has a four-page article about the work of The Friends of Czech Heritage at Uherčice in Moravia in the current number of the SPAB Magazine. In it his tells the history of the château, its fate since World War Two, and writes about the projects that The Friends have supported there, in particular the ceiling and windows in the Banqueting Hall.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris , Philip Webb and others, in 1877, to oppose what they saw as destructive 'restoration' of ancient buildings then occurring in VictorianEngland; "ancient" being used in the wider sense of "very old" rather than the more usual modern one of "pre-medieval". SPAB still operates according to Morris's original manifesto. It campaigns, advises, runs training programmes and courses, conducts research and publishes information.
Photographs of the magazine courtesy of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings:
December 2015 - Interview on Radio Prague: our Chairman Peter Jamieson was interviewed about our work by Ian Willoughby on Radio Prague: you can read or listen here .
December 2015 - Ch âteau of Jaroměřice, Conservation of the Chinese Cabinet
The 18th century Chinese Cabinet at Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou is a fine example of chinoiserie. But the paper decorations had become detached and conservation was urgently required. The Friends gave a grant and the work has now been successfully carried out.
The Baroque château is one of the largest structures dating from the first half of the 18th century in Europe. This originally medieval fortress standing on a cliff was protected from the south by the swamps of the River Rokytná. The château received its Renaissance appearance at the end of the 15th century, which is also when the foundations were laid for the gardens. Jan Adam, the last of the House of Questenberk, gave the château its current Baroque appearance. He was devoted to music: the first Czech opera 'How the City of Jaroměřice was Founded' by Antonín Míča was first performed here in 1730.
Photo courtesy of the NPÚ (the Czech National Heritage Institute) copyright sprOBJ
The Friends announced a lecture for 10th March 2016 - 'Reuniting 14th-century Prague: Charles IV and his Gothic Bridge'
A lecture by the architectural historian Dr Jana Gajdošová, affiliated lecturer in the History of Art Departmentat the University of Cambridge
The lecture will examine the rebuilding of Prague during the reign of Emperor Charles IV. It will focus especially on the role of the new Gothic bridge in the administrative, ceremonial and symbolic life of the city.
Dr. Jana Gajdošová is an affiliated lecturer in the History of Art Department at the University of Cambridge. She completed her MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2010 and her PhD at Birkbeck College in 2014. She is currently finishing a book on the Charles Bridge in Prague, and also leads architectural/ art tours in London and East Anglia. Her research interests include late medieval art and architecture, especially in Central Europe, Germany, England and Italy.
Tickets available online, see homepage right-hand panel, or email events @czechfriends.net.
Images: background, copyright Estec; medal from Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart, photo courtesy of Pvanderlowe
December 2015 - Work is currently progressing on the bay window roofs and attic floor of the Gardener's Cottage, the Mauricovna, at Červený Dvůr in South Bohemia. The Friends have held working holidays here each year since 2011.
The cottage is an important feature in the landscape garden. It was a ruin, but with the help of UK volunteers it is being restored and will be used as a therapy unit by the hospital situated in the château nearby. Over the winter professional builders are fitting structural timbers.
Next year we have three holidays there in the weeks 4th/11th June - 11th/18th June - 18th/25th June. For more information please email Peter Jamieson at: with your preferred date and your contact details. For more about all the planned holidays, also in other locations, click here .
Photos copyright Jiří Dvořáček
November 2015 - The Friends held a lecture 'Memories of Jan Kaplický' given by Ivan Margolius, architect and friend, in the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, London.
Mr Ivan Margolius presented an intimate view of the life and achievements of his close friend and professional colleague the Czech architect Jan Kaplický. Their friendship grew from shared personal experiences, having both been born in the Czech Republic and spending the most productive years of their lives in exile in Britain.
Photo: left, Ivan Margolius, our speaker, with the artist Jan Mladovský, both friends of Jan Kaplický. Photo J. Sommerlad.
Jan Kaplický was a thoroughly modern architect, who had developed originally style of organically flowing architectural shapes, vividly represented in his designs of the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and the Media Centre in the Lords Cricket Ground in London. He had to battle for his ideas with conventional taste, often against political opponents such as President Mitterrand in Paris and President Klaus in Prague.
His life was prematurely terminated in a street of his beloved Prague, where he died of the day his daughter was born on 14 January 2009. Jan Kaplický was highly respected by fellow architects, who had also contributed to the presentation by their personal reminiscences for our lecture on him. The occasion became a moving eulogy from the major living architects including Rogers, Jiřičná and Foster, and left a lasting impression on us about Jan’s great talent and lasting legacy of his work. He created a modern heritage for Czech architecture and hoped that his original designs be realised also in his home city of Prague.
Wines were sponsored by www.wine-gems.co.uk and the audience greatly appreciated special Moravian wines from the 'Château Winery Bzenec', including their Alfons Mucha collection, and 'Kolby' vineyard's Cuvée Exclusive 2012.
Photo of Jan Kaplický copyright Alžběta Jungrová
November 2015 - Celebrations at the Church of St. Nicholas in Petrovice, Úst í nad Labem, North Bohemia
On Saturday 14.11.2015 Petrovice celebrated an event that the community had been waiting for, for decades. Twenty-seven years ago, after an inadequate repair, the roof of the building collapsed and the church was facing oblivion. The authorities considered razing it to the ground. However, the many changes that came about within a year of 1988 made a real difference. The Roman Catholic Church gave the property to the village and from then on local enthusiasts and their association for preservation of old traditions took over.
The church continued to be used, even without the roof, to stage local events, and a campaign to raise funds for restoration, including a national collection, was launched. The Friends of Czech Heritage was impressed by the efforts of the local community and contributed a grant to the conservation of three memorial stained glass windows that remained in the presbytery. Originally installed in 1908, they were designed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the accession of the Emperor Franz Joseph. The local community responded positively to the Friends’ involvement in the project, which gained new supporters, volunteers and a grant from the district government and the Ministry of Culture.
In 2015 the vision of a renovated church started to materialise. The regional programme for North-West Bohemia included the revitalisation of the village of Petrovice within its remit, and a new roof for the Church of St Nicholas became an integral part of the programme.
The unique construction of a new glass roof means that the residents of Petrovice continue meeting under the stars, but this time under cover, in a place of good will that serves the community.
The Friends are impressed and delighted with the success of the Petrovice enthusiasts and wish them all the success for the future.
Photos copyright Jiřina Bischoffiová
November 2015 - An award for one of our founders
On 4th November 2015 Barbara Peacock received a presentation from Katarína Hobbs, the Director of Czech Tourism U.K. and Ireland. This took place during the World Travel Market in Excel London.
The life achievement award is given to a person who has dedicated much of his/her time and energy to the Czech Republic. A previous recipient of the award is Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, who arrived in the U.K. on one of Sir Nicholas Winton's trains in 1939. The award was given in recognition of Barbara Peacock's work in bringing many people to see the art treasures of the Czech Republic, and for founding The Friends with Ian Kennaway in 2007.
Photo from left to right: Ms Alena Kudílková from the Fashion Arena Prague, Katarína Hobbs of Czech Tourism, Barbara Peacock, one of the founders of The Friends. Photo copyright I. Kennaway.
October 2015 - The Development of Zlín, Home of the Bat'a Shoe Corporation
On 22nd October 2015 Eva Jiřičná, a renowned architect, who was born in Zlín but has lived and worked in England since 1968, gave a fascinating talk on the development of Zlín into a major centre for industrialised shoe manufacture. This occurred largely through the efforts of Tomáš Bat’a, the son of a Zlín shoemaker, who left school at a very young age but was determined to learn about and apply to the shoe industry modern methods of mass production already being used for other purposes. Through his vision Zlín was transformed not just by the construction of a large and efficient factory but also by the provision of well-designed housing and all other necessary facilities for workers who came to Zlín from the countryside.
Photo above, from left to right, Ian Kennaway (a founder ofThe Friends), Eva Jiřičná, and Caroline Cannon-Brookes (who has given several lectures on architecture for The Friends). Photo copyright Jolly Thompson.
The town has recently been enhanced by new buildings to accommodate the university that has been established there, some of which have been designed by Eva Jiřičná herself, see photo by Richard Davies, left. Her talk was enlivened by a number of personal recollections of her experiences as a small child under the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
The event was held at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, London, and we are grateful to the Ambassador and his staff for their help and cooperation. Wines were sponsored by Vinovitaj Limited.
24 - 26 September 2015 - NPÚ CONFERENCE IN TELČ
Our Chairman Peter Jamieson and Committee member James Robertson attended a conference in Telč organised jointly by the National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) and the Faculties of Education of the Charles University in Prague and of the Masaryk University in Brno. The theme of the conference was the role of education in improving heritage management.
The Director General of the NPÚ, Naděžda Goryczková, (see photo, right, with the Mayor of Telč, Pavel Komín) welcomed the delegates. Following her address, numerous speakers, principally from the Czech Republic, but also from the United Kingdom and France, spoke on a wide range of topics of both theoretical and practical interest. Peter Jamieson spoke about the experience of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in promoting its core objectives through education, and was able to include pictures of our patron Eva Jiřičná's work in Prague Castle and of the Mauricovna at Červený Dvůr to illustrate his talk. Also from the United Kingdom, Alex Drago from Historic Royal Palaces spoke of how they have implemented a visitor-focused approach to learning within the organisation, and Mark Crosby of the National Trust spoke of the role of volunteering in the Trust, and how it has evolved over the years.
Photo: Peter Jamieson in the middle, surrounded by other attendees. Both photos courtesy of the NPÚ.
On the second evening of the conference, James Robertson was requested to put the historic Baroque organ in St James's Church in the town through its paces for the benefit of a large group of attendees, which hopefully illustrated the British pragmatic approach to heritage issues.
September 2015 - The hospital in Červený Dvůr published photographs from our working parties on itswebsite.
September 2015 - Ian Kennaway, a founder of The Friends, addressed the Association of Owners of Castles and Châteaux in Boskovice. He presented a slideshow about our history and work. The Association consists of people who have bought or inherited historic buildings in the Czech Republic, or to whom they have been restituted following the fall of communism. The primary goal of the Association is the preservation of heritage. It has succeeded in having one of its board members join the Expert Committee of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic on the care of monuments. This will permit the Association to influence the preparation of, and amendments to, laws concerning monuments, and regulations relating to their care. In the area of international contacts, the Association has become a member of the Europe-wide organisation European Historic Houses. The website is http://amhz.cz/en/
Photos: top, Boskovice Château, copyright Lasy; bottom right, Ian Kennaway, courtesy NPÚ; bottom left, inside Boskovice Château, copyright Milan Svoboda.
September 2015 - The Friends of Czech Heritage held a garden visit in Surrey on 18th September 2015, organised by one of the founders of The Friends, Ian Kennaway. It started with Painshill, a beautiful 158-acre 18th-Century landscape garden, including the restored crystal grotto, historic planting, a collection of North American trees and shrubs, and spectacular views across lakes to the Turkish tent, and over Surrey beyond. The party then moved on to The Homewood, near Esher, Surrey, a sizeable country villa completed in 1938, designed and lived in by the architect Patrick Gwynne. He died in 2003 and the house and substantial garden were bequeathed to the National Trust, which now lets the property.
Gardens such as Painshill had an influence on estates in the Czech Republic, such as Krásný Dvůr, the subject of an article in our Newsletter Number 7 contributed by Prof. PhDr. Pavel Vlček, a research fellow at the Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Holmwood can be seen in the context of the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, dating from 1930.
August 2015 - The music festival at the Château of Čečovice, now an annual event in this part of west Bohemia, enjoyed a well deserved success during the last weekend of August. The annual music festival in the Château of Čečovice is made possible by musicians playing for free in order to help the restoration fund. Many people attended for the music and local crafts, and had an opportunity to see the progress in restoration work. This included the newly installed ceiling, made possible thanks to grants from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and from The Friends of Czech Heritage. The château is again playing a part in the life of the local community.
Photo: temporary sign on the Château of Čečovice, crediting the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and The Friends of Czech Heritage for grants to restore the eastern wing of the building. Photo courtesy of M. Šusová.
August 2015 - The Château of Čečovice boasts a new ceiling
In time for the summer festival in Čečovice, and ahead of schedule, visitors to the château will be able to see the progress in the restoration of the building destroyed by neglect and a devastating fire. The best remaining room of the château now has a ceiling thanks to a grant from The Friends of Czech Heritage based in London, which in turn attracted an additional grant from the Czech Ministry of Culture.
We wish the festival a great success and the hard-working volunteers a bright future in returning the château back to the community.
August 2015 - The Friends have just completed our tour of three week-long working parties at Červený Dvůr where volunteers set about completing the major outstanding brickwork. Most had never laid a brick in their lives and many discovered a new skill. This and their productivity took the local doubters by surprise. Following this success we are now giving thought to next year's programme of volunteer projects and working parties. To date we have put in 315 'man days' of work at Červený Dvůr. More in our Newsletter 13.
May 2015 - The Friends held a lecture 'Lednice/Valtice - Bringing the UNESCO-listed historic gardens in Moravia to life', given by Ing. Přemysl Krejčiřík PhD and Kamila Krejčiříková PhD, photo below.
Ing. Kamila Krejčiříková Ph.D., assisted by her husband Přemysl, gave a very interesting lecture at the Czech Embassy, London, on the work they, as experts in landscape design and restoration, have been and still are doing on the restoration of the historic gardens at the connected sites of Lednice and Valtice in the south of Moravia, near the frontier with Austria.
The combined site, which was owned by the Liechtenstein family for 700 years until 1945, is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and receives over one million visitors each summer. The talk was illustrated by many excellent slides showing not only how the site looks today but also, through the use of contemporary plans and drawings, how it has evolved over the centuries.
It was particularly interesting for a London audience to note Kamila’s references to buildings and gardens in England, such as Stowe and Kew, which influenced the development of Lednice/Valtice in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Photo credits left, from top to bottom, and left to right: Lednice ©Čapková, Minaret ©NPÚ, Temple of Diana (arch), and curving Temple of the Three Graces ©Vavřík, Hunting Lodge ©Doronenko, Chapel of St Hubert ©Vavřík, Temple of Apollo ©RadekS, background image: the glasshouse of Lednice ©L.Kalista
June 2015 - The Friends were nominated for a ‘Ceny Ď’ prize in the Czech Republic. This is for our work on Uherčice Château in South Moravia. The château found itself in a restricted area near the Iron Curtain border with Austria for 41 years, and was used by border guards for some time. Since 1989 the Czech Heritage Institute has been conserving and restoring the huge complex with help from various sources, including individuals such as the opera singer Pavlína Senič, who has followed an honourable tradition of Czech artists and performers in giving recitals to aid the architectural heritage of the country. Since 2011 The Friends have made substantial grants to help rescue the interior of the Banqueting Hall, and it was for this work that the keeper of property has nominated us. The Friends were previously nominated for ‘Ceny Ď’ prize by the manager of the Château of Lysice in 2012.
March 2015 - Members of The Friends' committee travelled to see projects in the Czech Republic early in the month, visiting the Church of St Nicholas in Petrovice, the Château of Uherčice and the Château of Čečovice.
Photo: from left to right Peter Jamieson and Barbara Peacock of The Friends, Miroslava Susová and her son Jíří, James Robertson of The Friends. Mrs Susová and her son are heroically restoring the Château of Čečovice for community use. We have given a grant to help with this work and hope that other donors will be found.
March 2015 - The Friends held a lecture 'HAVEL, A LIFE' by Mr Michael Žantovský, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the UK and biographer of Havel, on 5th March 2015 at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, London. Václav Havel, an intellectual, playwright, philosopher and President, was a key figure of the 20th century and Michael Žantovský was one of his closest friends. The main theme of the talk was that Havel was always essentially the same person and did not substantially differ according to which of his various roles he was playing.
The event was organised with the cooperation of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic. Among those who attended were two former UK ambassadors to the Czech Republic and to the Slovak Republic, respectively Sir Michael Burton and Mr Michael Roberts (chairman of the BCSA); Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines; Sir Anthony Colman QC, who has been involved in advice concerning the judiciary in the Czech Republic; both patrons of The Friends, Eva Jiřičná MBE and Mr Greg Hands MP.
Photo, from left to right: Sir Michael Roberts, Greg Hands MP (Patron of The Friends), Michael Žantovský and Michael Roberts, Chairman of the BCSA
It was a full house, the questions numerous, a deeply satisfying and interesting evening, during which we enjoyed wines, and beer donated by Krušovice Brewery.
“Thanks to Žantovský’s truthfulness, Havel emerges from this account as a great national leader whose greatness was inseparable from real humility and grace.” Roger Scruton, The Times.
All photos courtesy of Ian Kennaway
February 2015 - The Friends organised a lecture in the Czech Embassy, London, 'Kilián Ignac Dientzenhofer (1689-1751) - Architect and Master Builder in 18th century Bohemia' by Caroline Cannon-Brookes, art historian, former lecturer at Leeds University, held on 5th February 2105.
The event was organised with the co-operation of the Embassy of the Czech Republic.
Dientzenhofer was born in Prague into a family of architects of Bavarian origin. The talk particularly featured his best-known projects in Prague, on some of which his father Christoph also worked, including the Jesuit church of St Nicholas in Malá Strana, the Benedictine abbey and church of St Margaret at Břevnov, the Vila Amerika and the Loreto Monastery, but also took in many of his other works in Prague and elsewhere in Bohemia, as well as the abbey and church of St. Hedwig at Legnickie Pole across the border in Poland, considered to be one of this architect’s finest achievements.
Photo © C. Cannon-Brookes
December 2014 - The Prague Post reports on the exhibition ' Castles & Chateaux Rediscovered and Celebrated'
"The exhibition opens with the monumental medieval gates of Karlštejn Castle, though which the Holy Roman Emperor and Czech King Charles IV would have walked; they have been witness to many skirmishes throughout history and now are opened almost daily to hundreds of thousands of visitors arriving from various corners of the world.
Prior to their transfer to Prague Castle they were treated, reinforced and secured against damage; this restoration work was financed by a gift amounting to approximately 70,000 Kč (£2000) provided by the English charity, the Friends of Czech Heritage."
Photo © Anna Pavličková
November 2014 - Friends' lecture in London, organised with the support and co-operation of the Embassy of the Czech Republic
'The Velvet Revolution 25 Years on: An Émigré Perspective'
The Friends held a lecture evening by Dr. Katya Kocourek, formerly of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, who gave an absorbing and original insight to the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia that brought about the ending of the communist system there.
Dr. Kocourek concentrated on themes in the British media and diplomatic and political circles. Until late 1989 British foreign policy was very guarded about the events unfolding in Central Europe, fearing the possibility of instability in the countries concerned and that a rapid collapse of the communist régimes without any opposition from the Soviet Union could provoke a coup in the Kremlin followed possibly by military intervention.
Dr. Kocourek concluded that the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia had been carried out with little diplomatic or political support from Britain or from the European Union as a whole and with little outside pressure for such a fundamental change. She felt that, although the expectations of many Czechs for their post-Communist future had still not been realised, public discussion of the country’s governance was lively and continuing and this was a hopeful sign.
There was a full house in the Czech Embassy and we were pleased that MUDr Antonín Hradílek, Deputy to the Ambassador, and Karolina Scerbej of the Czech Embassy attended the event.
Wines, beer and canapés were provided by the Embassy and by Vinovitaj Ltd.
Photos: upper, Václav Havel on Wenceslas Square in November 1989, copyright Irmojohnny; lower, Dr Kocourek on the evening of the lecture, copyright J. Sommerlad.
October 2014 - Friends' Lecture: Alphonse Mucha, his life and heritage
John Mucha, grandson of Alphonse Mucha, gave a fascinating talk to a large audience at the Czech Embassy about the fate of the Mucha family during the German Occupation of Czechoslovakia and then under the Communism and how Mucha’s own collection of his work was preserved under those hostile regimes and was later largely made available for public display.
The speaker particularly drew attention to Alphonse Mucha's great series of enormous paintings entitled the Slav Epic, depicting episodes from the history of the Czechs and other Slavonic peoples. These paintings were regarded by Mucha as his most important creation. After being hidden from the Nazis, thet were rediscovered after the Second World War and then exhibited until recently in a crumbling castle in Moravia. They have now controversially been removed to Prague and put on display there.
Top photo: John Mucha begins his talk. Lower photo: John Mucha with the representatives of Frey Wille who demonstrated Mucha inspired jewelry and Mrs. Mucha (second from left). Photo courtesy of James Robertson.
Summer 2014 - The Friends' Working Parties in South Bohemia
We were a mixed party with ages ranging from early 20s to mid 70s and included students, a retired architect, social workers and a food store manager. We helped to lay the drains, built walls and excavated a cellar to provide storage, with a particular focus on the Mauricovna, a building in the grounds that we are helping to rescue. Our activities created much interest amongst the patients and staff of the sanatorium which occupies the Chateau of Červený Dvůr, and with whom we work. Several working parties in June and July this year ensured that we added considerably to what was achieved in recent years and we look forward to further progress in 2015. Information:
Photo: Liz Sanders
April 2014 - Czechbook - A sketchbook of some Historic Buildings of the Czech Republic by Stephen Harte and Barbara Peacock
This charming booklet seeks to highlight the cultural richness of the Czech Republic through some of its great buildings. It features original watercolours and sketches by the artist Stephen Harte based on impressions recorded during his visits to the country. These are linked by a brief but authoritative historical narrative by Barbara Peacock. Together they show some of the delights to be enjoyed by anyone living in or visiting the Czech Republic, set against the background of a turbulent past. The Czech Republic has a greater concentration of country houses (zámky) than almost any other country in Europe, and this booklet gives a preliminary taste of what is on offer. Read more/
Stephen Harte 's previous occupation as an architect and landscape architect has helped him to develop skills and interests that he now uses in painting.
Barbara Peacock MA FRSA is an architectural historian with a particular interest in the country house. For over 20 years she has travelled extensively in the Czech Republic researching the magnificent and still comparatively little-known legacy of great country houses and has led many group visits.
Published 2014, 31 pages, full-colour illustrations, £8.50 incl. p&p. To order a copy please email: or send your name, address and a cheque for £8.50 per copy to: 'Czechbook' Sales,Church Cottage, Beauworth, ALRESFORD, Hampshire SO24 0PA.
Profits go to The Friends of Czech Heritage, of which Barbara Peacock is a founder.
June 2014 - The Czech National Trust launched in London
The Czech National Trust was officially inaugurated at a formal dinner at the Reform Club in London, attended by HE The Czech Ambassador Mr Michael Zantovský, representatives of Parliament and the Czech Government, and many distinguished members of the international heritage community, including Sir Simon Jenkins, CEO of the National Trust.
May 2014 - Exhibition: HERITAGE – 25 Years of Cooperation between the British and South Bohemian Heritage Workers, at the NPÚ Gallery, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
The National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) České Budějovice opened an exhibition featuring the last 25 years of work influenced by the exchange of ideas and expertise between the local team and the experts from the National Trust in the UK. The culmination of the cooperation was the Attingham Trust Study Week in the Chateau of Třeboň, June 2015, when the heritage experts and workers meet for the first time in a post-communist country. The exhibition consists of sixteen large panels with photographs and text in both Czech and English.
The first international contacts followed shortly after the Velvet Revolution with two representatives of the local NPÚ team being invited to the ‘Europe Preserved for Europe’ conference organised by the National Trust in York in England. An invitation to visit the NT properties in Wales open to the public soon followed providing not only a much needed encouragement for the Czech heritage workers but also a platform for comparison, inspiration and education.
Photo: Ian Kennaway, left, Founder of The Friends, receives a presentation from Ing PhD Vlastislav Ouroda, Director UOP at the České Budějovice office of the Czech National Heritage Institute (NPÚ)
April 2014 - ČTK REPORTS ON THE FRIENDS' WORK IN MORAVIA
Uherčice, South Moravia, (ČTK) - The British group The Friends of Czech Heritage will provide some 900,000 crowns for the renewal of the first room of the dilapidated Uherčice château which the state plans to restore, the château's administrator Eva Stepánová said Tuesday. The Uherčice château is the most devastated state-owned historical building in Moravia. The first room to undergo reconstruction will be the banqueting hall, whose painted ceiling will be reconstructed with the British money, Stepánová, said.
The National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) has been in charge of the château since 1995 but they still fail to gain money for its reconstruction. From 2009 to 2013, the NPÚ used the proceeds from wine auctions to restore the banqueting hall's 13 windows. After the ceiling is restored, the NPÚ will need six million crowns more to restore the wall paintings and the historical wooden floor. "The British foundation is now seeking a sponsor in Britain who would help us with these projects," Stepánová said. Unlike the neighbouring châteaux of Vránov and Bitov, Uherčice is not that popular a tourist destination. About 2,500 people visit in annually. The château's last owner was the Italian noble family Collalto and San Salvatore, who owned it until after the end of World War II, when they were branded enemies of the state and their property was confiscated. In the communist period, the château served as the headquarters of the Czechoslovak military guards monitoring the nearby border with Austria.
Copyright 2014 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Published with the permission of ČTK
May 2014 - FRIENDS' LECTURE in the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, London.
'The English Language Discourse Surrounding the Transfer/Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans'
The title might have sounded disconcertingly academic but Dr. Martin Brown of the American International University in London delivered a thrillingly pithy and persuasive analysis of his subject. He came he said, not to discuss the events of 1945-46 but the lengthy debate about the transfer or resettlement of populations in British political, diplomatic and intellectual circles long before. At the risk of paraphrasing inaccurately, this had acquired real significance during the course of the First World War and the subsequent treaty negotiations at Versailles leading to the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state. The implication is that the “transfer/expulsion” of 1945-46 cannot be seen as an act of ethnic-cleansing in the anachronistic language of several recent books touching on the subject, a view perhaps prompted by the continuing potency of the issue within the Czech Republic and Germany. The language used by all parties involved in the debate inevitably reflects their standpoint and experience of the events, as was made quite clear in the discussion after the talk by Mrs. Maria Beasley, daughter of Josef Zinner, the German-speaking President of Czech Miners Union prior to 1939. A Sudeten German Social Democrat, he came to London and collaborated with the Czech government in exile.
A fascinating, absorbing and stimulating lecture attended by many, including Mr. Hradílek, Deputy to HE Michael Žantovský, the Czech Ambassador to the UK.
February 2014 - FRIENDS' LECTURE IN LONDON
In the Czech Embassy, London, the architectural historian Dr Irena Murray-Žantovská gave a lecture on the Strahov Monastery in Prague, entitled 'The Building and the Book'. The hall was filled by an audience that included experts on painting and art history.
Photos: anti-clockwise from left, Dr Murray-Žantovská; the lecturer with Barbara Peacock, a founder of The Friends (both photos © Jolly Thompson); the Theological Hall of the Strahov Library, Prague
The Premonstratensians are an order of canons regular founded in 1120 by St Norbert.The Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, founded in 1143, is one of the oldest monasteries of the Premonstratensian Order in the world. Wines sponsored bywww.vinovitaj.com
November 2013 - With the help of The Friends the Czech National Trust (CNT) has now been established and legally registered in the Czech Republic as a charitable organisation. The Friends took up the mantle with the support of INTO, and working with several dedicated collaborators in the Czech Republic. Click here for the website of the Czech National Trust (currently in Czech only).
November 2013 - The Friends held a lecture in the Czech Embassy, London.
'From Sentiment to Science - 25 Years of Modern Conservation' was given by John Allan, a director of Avanti Architects and the leading expert in the UK on the conservation of modernist architecture. He spoke about many high-profile buildings including the Villa Tugendhat in Brno. Wines sponsored by www.vinovitaj.com
Summer 2013 - The Mauricovna phase 1 roof work
An 18th Century Estate Cottage in the gardens of the Château of Červený Dvůr. The cottage is a ruin but with the help of our working holidays, volunteers have started to convert it to a post-therapy unit for the drug and alcohol treatment clinic situated in the château. This project is run with the kind assistance of MJP Architects, London. We plan further working parties in the coming years.
October 2013 - Moravian wines were the stars of a packed wine tasting at the Czech Embassy on Tuesday, 15 October 2013. Naděžda Goryczková, the Director of the National Heritage Office (NPU) in Prague, attended the event. A respectable sum of money was raised towards the Friends' restoration fund and highly satisfied customersexpressed a wish to repeat the event soon again. Vinovitaj laid out some 30 varieties of wines, some still new to the UK market, and all much enjoyed by the visitors. www.vinovitaj.com
The Friends of Czech Heritage shared a stand with the newly-founded Czech National Trust in early October 2013 at the Památky heritage fair in Prague. There was a lot of interest in the work of both organisations, and we hope to build on the new contacts that were made.
August 2013 - The Mauricovna in Červeny Dvůr, South Bohemia, has benefited from the generosity of the Hargreaves and Ball Trust, which has already given extensive financial support to our other projects. We have now made a grant to cover the replacement of the roof. This is a huge step forward as it will not only prevent further deterioration of the building but is a clear demonstration of intent; we hope that as a result further funds will be forthcoming to carry on the good work.
July 2013 - The Friends received the following mention on RSS feed of the National Heritage Institute of the Czech Republic, Národní památkový ústav:
'The Friends of Czech Heritage...have an understanding for our heritage and have supported it in an especially valuable way - financially, technically, morally and in a way that transcends nationality.'
July 2013 - The Friends have accepted an award from The Enhancement of Znojmo Association. The association award ceremony this year was held in the vestibule of the House of the Arts in Lower (Masaryk) Square in Znojmo.
The award was presented by Jiří Ludvík, a member of the association and director of Znojmo Music Festival, in appreciation of The Friends‘ contributions over the years to the restoration and conservation of nearby Uherčice Château. The evening was well attended, with a jazz band and followed by traditional dancing. There was press coverage, see photo, in which the The Friends received favourable mention.
Summer 2013 - The Friends' two weeks of working holidays, based in the grounds of the Château of Červený dvůr in South Bohemia, took place in June. As you can see, it's not all work, with visits to local cultural highlights such as UNESCO-listed Český Krumlov, not forgetting a glass or two of wonderful Czech beer. Why not join us? Expressions of interest to Peter Jamieson:
June 2013 - The Château of Veltrusy is appealing for help. It suffered considerable damage during the floods in the 2013
The historic dam next to the Laudon Pavilion was broken and 20,000 m² of parkland have been silted over. Most of the garden buildings in this unique park have been damaged and a fifth of the park area is still not accessible. Specialist teams, including experts from the UNESCO-protected gardens in Kroměříž, are currently assessing the damage and making the access to the château safe. www.zamek-veltrusy.cz
Photo: © Razim
May 2013 - Czech Churches
The Czech Republic hosted the event ‘Night of the Churches’ when churches and prayer sites around the country stayed open up to midnight. In many places there was a programme of concerts and organ music.
Cardinal Archbishop Dominic Duka said, "This year there are more places opened then the last year - 1365 churches and prayer sites."
May 2013 - Friends' Lecture in London
Visually stunning, technically impressive and always surprising - Eva Jiřičná presented an overview of her most prestigious projects at the Friends' lecture in the Czech Embassy, 16 May 2013. The Orangery of Prague Castle, the Church Na krizovatce restored by the President Havel foundation, the loft of the Schwarzenberg Palace, work at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Somerset House, the Royal Academy and many others. The lecture was sold out and raised a respectable sum of money for the Friends.
Photo, above: Eva Jiřičná receives a bouquet from Vice Chairman of The Friends, Peter Jamieson.
Wines sponsored by Vinovitaj Limited www.vinovitaj.com
April 2013 A new permanent exhibition opened at the Château of Mnichovo Hradistě, called 'The Meeting of the Monarchs of the Holy Alliance'. The Friends contributed £3,000 towards the restoration of a Baroque tiled stove, which was made in Southern Bohemia.
March 2013 HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and The Countess of Wessex, paid an official visit to the Czech Republic
On 12 March 2013 , Dr Irena Edwards, Chairman of The Friends, met HRH Prince Edward and The Countess of Wessex at the British Embassy in Prague at a gathering of voluntary and charitable organisations. She had a chance to discuss with both of Their Royal Hignesses the work that The Friends are doing in the heritage field and its work to establish a National Trust in the Czech Republic.
The Friends are very pleased to annouce that our patron Eva Jiřičná has been awarded the 2013 Jane Drew Prize for her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture.
The jury was unanimous in its decision to award Jiřičná the prize, describing her work as ‘incredibly influential’.
Known for her glass and steel staircases, Czech-born Jiřičná set up Eva Jiřičná Architects in 1982 and her stellar career has seen her work with clients including Andersen Consulting, The Royal Academy of Arts and Selfridges. Photo: © Matěj Slavík
November 2012 - The Friends with the co-operation of the Czech Embassy organised a lecture 'Splendour and Spectacle: Great Buildings and Gardens of Moravia' by Barbara Peacock, architectural historian, director of Wessex Fine Art Study Courses, co-founder of The Friends, given in the Czech Embassy on 6th November 2012. Wines sponsored by Vinovitaj www.vinovitaj.com
The Friends presented a Czech exhibition of photographs of restored churches, curated by Aleš Kozák, in St John’s Church Notting Hill, Lansdowne Crescent, London W11 2NN that ran to the end of February 2013. The pictures were accompanied by stories of the churches’ history and the efforts that brought them back to life and to their spiritual traditions. Photos by Jan Bartoš.
October 2012 - The Friends had a stand at 'Památky' (Heritage), the first national fair in Prague dealing with all aspects of heritage. We made contact with people involved in many aspects of building conservation.