On the Case of a Missing Monument: The First Trusted Source Workshop

On the 16th March, Oxford University researchers joined National Trust staff at St John’s College for the first Trusted Source workshop, at which the partnership was introduced and opportunities for research on a puzzling monument at the Trust’s landscape at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, were detailed. Stowe is currently running its Landscape Programme which seeks to return the gardens to their former glory, and includes a project to rebuild a Coade stone Gothic Cross monument that was placed in the landscape in the early 19th century and later destroyed, it is believed, by a falling tree. The project was selected as an early focus for Trusted Source in the hope that Oxford researchers could assist National Trust staff in better understanding and interpreting the monument, while at the same time create articles for the Trusted Source digital knowledge bank.

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Illustrations (top) ‘A View at the Entrance Between the Pavilions’, Jean Baptist-Claude Chatelaine, 1752. © National Trust. Top left: Stowe House today. Bottom left: Parts of the cross that survive. Right: An artist’s impression of the Gothic Cross, published in the 1827 guide to Stowe.


An introduction to Trusted Source and a presentation on the history of the landscape at Stowe was given by the Trust’s National Gardens Specialist, Richard Wheeler, followed by an open discussion on the Gothic Cross which included the circumstances of its commission, its production, and the plethora of possible meanings it brought to the surrounding landscape. Amongst others, questions were raised regarding the themes of memorial, patronage, and the history of re-locating settlements to make way for formal landscaping projects.

Not only did the workshop introduce the Trusted Source Knowledge Transfer Partnership to Oxford researchers and begin the process for commissioning articles for the digital knowledge bank, it also enabled university academics to network with National Trust staff and establish research relationships that will, we hope, expand beyond the initial scope of the Trusted Source project.

Details of the next Trusted Source workshop will be released soon, but in the meantime please contact Alice Purkiss (alice.purkiss@history.ox.ac.uk) for further information and opportunities to contribute.

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