Charles Saumarez-Smith

Where the Whigs went

A book about one of the London clubs, published to mark its 250th anniversary, might be regarded as of extremely limited public appeal, designed only for the enjoyment of its members, 800 of whom have subscribed more than 900 copies (one blenches to think why members might want more than one copy). But Brooks’s, halfway

Rus in urbe

One of the pleasures of my week is walking across St James’s Square. The slightly furtive sense of trespassing as one opens the ironwork gates; the decision as to whether or not to follow the circuit of gravel paths or go straight across the grass; the equestrian statue of William III and readers from the

Last of the swagmen

I have hitherto resisted my wife’s frequent recommendations that I should read a daily blog about the life of the denizens of Spitalfields, but, now that they have been published in book form, I can see why she is such an enthusiast. The Gentle Author is deliberately anonymous and bases his style on a combination

Singing in exultation

Every Christmas, I face the problem of choosing an official card. The National Gallery Company sends through the range of choice some time in June, when it all seems far off. I can choose from the ‘Wilton Diptych’ (well, it’s not very Christmassy apart from the fact that it has a gold background) to the

God’s house with many mansions

Institutional history is a tricky genre, so prone to over-reverence, so likely to be tedious to anyone but those attached to the institution described. So it was superficially brave of a commercial press to commission a quincentenary history of a Cambridge college: brave, that is, until one discovers that its authors include Quentin Skinner, the

Temples of culture under siege

A couple of years ago, I was walking up Quincy Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Ivan Gaskell, a curator at the Fogg Art Museum, when he asked if I had ever met Jim Cuno, the director of the Fogg. I hadn’t, so we knocked on his door and left three hours later, having embarked on