PP/GC/LE/72 Letter from Sir G.C.Lewis to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston regarding plans for Finsbury park, and the British Museum, 11 August 1856
Letter from Sir George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, [Chancellor of the Exchequer], Harpton [Court], Radnor, [Radnorshire, Wales], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: he has been unable to answer Palmerston's letters about Finsbury park and the British Museum during the days spent travelling home. The plan for a new park for Finsbury should take a prominent place among the metropolitan improvements, for which public grants are required. A large portion of coal duties expires in 1860; until that time, a proportion will spent on metropolitan improvements. It expected that the sums will be paid before the duty on which they are charged expires, and that a surplus will remain. There are already several intended appropriations of the surplus. The Metropolitan Board of Works wish to make improvements in Holborn. Another set of people wish to have it to buy Hampstead Heath. Hall says that the surplus is promised for making a street from Leicester Square to Covent Garden. The Finsbury memorials allude to the coal tax as constituting a claim for a public grant. Before anything can be promised to Finsbury, it will be necessary to see their estimate together with the draft local act, in order to ascertain how they will raise their share of the outlay. This is estimated at 250,000 pounds. "With regard to the British Museum, I confess I quite agree with what you say as to the difficulty of removing the natural history collections to another building. The space which they occupy is extremely large. I walked through every room, and I am satisfied that it could not be filled up, in our time, by objects of equal interest. It is evident that the public care at least as much for the birds and beasts and minerals as they do for the antiques, and that if they were sent away, one great source of attraction to the British Museum would be withdrawn. The plan of dividing the antiques into works of art and remains of mere archaeological interest seems to me to be impracticable. The rooms containing objects from the Sandwich Islands, brought home by Captain Cook, as well as those containing works of medieval art, might be set free, and their contents transferred to the Marlborough House Collection. I think too that the collection of engravings, many of which are portraits, might be properly combined with the National Gallery and the projected collection of historical portraits. Beyond this, I do not at present see my way." Ashburton declines to act on the commission. Lord de Grey and Sidney Herbert have been asked to serve. Lewis has enquired about Mr Parratt's claim; he seems to have no merits as a Treasury clerk. Trevelyan believes that the Admiralty's refusal of his claim for compensation is conclusive. Lewis will try to find out more about him. "The harvest in the this [Radnor] neighbourhood promises fairly, but several more weeks of fine weather will be required in order to bring it home." The price of wheat is likely to range between sixty and seventy pounds after the harvest. 11 Aug 1856
Four papers
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Sir Benjamin Hall, first Baron Hall, President of the Board of Works
Captain James Cook, explorer, deceased
Sandwich Islands, later, Hawaiian Islands, North Pacific
William Bingham Baring, fourth Baron Ashburton, trustee of the National Gallery
Thomas Phillip Weddell, second Earl de Grey, President of the Society of Architects
Sidney Herbert, Secretary of State for the Colonies
George Parratt, second class clerk at the Treasury
Sir Charles Trevelyan, assistant secretary to the Treasury
Wales; crops; agriculture
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