15 OCTOBER 1954, Page 16


SIR,—In his article Mithramania ' in the Spectator on October 1, Mr. Pope-Hennessy implies that it was the Kensington Society's efforts alone that saved the east wing of Holland House. I cannot let this go unchal- lenged.

Holland House had been classified as a total loss through war damage, and before the Kensington Society came into being the London County Council was considering ways and means of preserving as much as possible of the ruins. There must obviously be a limit to the amount of public money which can reasonably be used for such pur- poses; nevertheless in December, 1952, the Council voted £15,000 to preserve the arcades, the centre of the south front, the ground floor of the east wing and the foundation outline of the rest of the building. Later, in 1953, it became evident that the east wing could not be preserved by the Council; partly be- cause of further deteriortttion, but mainly because of the high cost involved and th6 absence of any reasonable proposal for its use. The Council considered it should not spend more out of public funds than the amount already voted. It was about Christ- mas, 1953, that the Kensington Society be- came active in regard to the east wing of Holland House. Under the Council's demoli- tion programme, however, the east wing was not due to come down uritil May, 1954, and the Council made it known that it was ready to consider sympathetically any suitable and practical suggestions for preserving it without spending more public money. The Kensing• ton Society was unable to offer any such suggestions. Last January, however, the Youth Hostels Association, having received promise of a grant from the King George VI Memorial Fund for the building of new hostels, came forward with a proposal for preserving the east wing as part of a Youth Hostel building to adjoin Holland House, This admirable idea received full and imme- diate support from the Council, which forth• with promoted the legislation needed to enable the Association's scheme to go ahead when its plans were complete and the additional funds needed had been secured. The Kensington Society undoubtedly played

a part in saving the east wing, but the major credit must surely go to the Youth Hostels Association and to the King George VI Memorial Fund.—Yours faithfully,