William Morris

Peterborough Cathedral V

The blame for the waste of money in the interior of Peterborough Cathedral on things which must to everybody seem non-essentials (and which to me seem mischievous modernisations) does not rest specially on the restoration committee, and I did not in my former letter mean to imply that it did. The committee shares the blame with the general public. Yet it seems to me that as the body made responsible for carrying out necessary repairs, and which in consequence was and is bound to know more than others of the needs of the Cathedral, it was their business rather to lead the public than be led by it, and to point out emphatically what those needs were. The only effective way of doing this would have been to have refused money except for definite necessary repairs; if this had been done, the public would soon havelearnt its lesson. No committee for seeing through the repairs due to a monument of art and history can justify its existence if it allows itself to be made the tool of the feeble wishes of ignorance and frivolity. I speak strongly on this point, because so much mischief has been caused in many places by rich men shaking bags of money at `restoration' committees, and their not being able to resist the temptation of doing something splendid at the expense of losing almost all the interest of the building in their charge. I rejoice to hear that the responsibility of advising the Dean and Chapter on this will not be thrown on any one man, but that a consensus of opinion of those most skilled in construction will be obtained.

Letter to the Daily Chronicle, 13 December 1895.