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Bibliographical Information
Sir Samuel Meyrick & Goodrich Court
Rosalind Lowe
ISBN: 9781873827888 (1873827881)Publication Date July 2003
Publisher: Logaston Press, Almeley
Format: Paperback, 245x175 mm, 290 pages Language: English Non-Stock Item - Ordered on request Our Price: £17.50   
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A comprehensive biography of Sir Samuel Rush Meyrich of Goodrich Court, Herefordshire (1783-1848), antiquary and author, collector and recorder of arms, with a description of the extensive collection of treasures at his home and their fate, and of the demolition of the home in 1950. 34 colour and 133 black-and white illustrations.

Cofiant cynhwysfawr Syr Samuel Rush Meyrich, Goodrich Court, Henffordd (1783-1848), hynafiaethydd ac awdur, casglwr a chofnodydd arfau, gyda disgrifiad o'r casgliad helaeth o drysorau yn ei gartref, y modd y'u chwalwyd ac y dymchwelwyd y cartref yn 1950. 34 llun lliw ac 133 llun du-a-gwyn.
Welsh antiquarians will know of Samuel Rush Meyrick (1783-1848) for his precocious History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan, published when he was only twenty-seven years of age. He was connected to the county through marriage for, at the age of twenty, he incurred the lasting displeasure of his father by a hastily arranged, clandestine union to Mary Parry in the parish church of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn. Mary was nineteen years old, barely literate and brought no dowry; her father farmed Llwynhywel, near Llanilar. Samuel's father, John, on the other hand, had inherited the fortune that his father had made as a supplies agent to the Hanoverian army. When John Meyrick died in 1805, possibly from the shock his son's marriage had induced, Samuel was cut from the inheritance. Samuel's passionate love affair with a Welsh girl gave him an abiding interest in things Welsh, however, as manifested in a fanciful attempt to prove a distinguished Welsh ancestry back to Owain Gwynedd.

Together with the bogus family tree, he wanted a Welsh castle as an ancestral home. After long searching and dashed hopes, the practical advantages of a border location became apparent. In 1828, ten years after the early death of his wife, Samuel Rush Meyrick began work on a neo-Gothic edifice of his own design, a 'new' castle set besides the ruins of the old castle at Goodrich, on a rocky crag above the Wye, between Monmouth and Ross. A special feature of Goodrich Court, the name given to the 'new' castle, was its Armoury, a large ground floor hall containing Samuel Rush Meyrick's celebrated armour collection, culled from Britain and Europe on extensive travels in the company of his son, Llewellyn. Outside of Wales, it is as the founding father of the systematic study of armour that Samuel Rush Meyrick is generally known, his name revered by armour enthusiasts around the world. He was knighted in 1832 for his work in reorganising the royal armour collections in the Tower of London and at Windsor Castle and the Armoury at Goodrich Court became an established highlight of the fashionable Wye Tour. Paradoxically, given his romanticism with regards to things Welsh, it was his scrupulous insistence on historical accuracy that marked him out as a pioneer of the study of the historical development of armour, influenced by Linnean classification by form and on the cusp of the Darwinian age.

The story ends sadly and rapidly. His son and sole heir having died aged 33, Sir Samuel lived on alone suffering increasing discomfort from the effects of gonorrhea. Following his death, Goodrich Court was sold and his Armoury collection dispersed; some of it is on display today in the Wallace Collection and at the British Museum. In 1949, the property was demolished.

Rosalind Lowe had researched all facets of this story admirably, bringing to life a man whose career and enthusiasms illuminate his age. The book is handsomely produced on good paper, profusely illustrated in black-and-white and with over thirty colour plates. It is remarkably good value and can be recommended not only to local historians and armour enthusiasts but also to anyone interested in the Gothic Revival.

David Barnes

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Further Information:
Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick was the founding father of the systematic study of arms and armour. His last days were spent in Herefordshire, where his magnificent collection of arms, armour and antiquities could be visited in his mock Gothic castle called Goodrich Court. The collection is now largely dispersed, with some of the choicest pieces at the Wallace Collection and at the British Museum. Sir Samuel and the Meyrick collection played an important role in the early 19th century movement towards historical accuracy in the portrayal of correct costume in works of art and the theatre. Artists such as Bonington, Cooper, Corbould, Cottingham and Haydon sketched the armour: the architect William Burges bought items from the collection and was surely influenced by Sir Samuel’s views on medieval decoration. Meyrick’s lavishly illustrated works were an unparallelled source for later writers, and he published many historical articles. Sir Samuel’s story, and that of Goodrich Court and its treasures is no dry antiquarian tale, but full-blooded and sometimes humorous.
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