Phyllis Barron & Dorothy Larcher 1930s

On 21 October 1932 there is a letter from Barron We are very sorry to hear of the division of opinion in your committee upon the schemes we submitted for decorating the Fell Dining Room and Combination Room. We thought we had given sufficient indication of the style we should suggest to make so complete a misunderstanding impossible. On hearing that the majority of the committee are in favour of a scheme so completely different in character from that which we have suggested, or could honestly advise, we should prefer to withdraw. The only radical change which we should be prepared to suggest would be genuine antique furniture and real velvet curtains. This would cost vastly more than the sum suggested. If the genuine thing is out of the question we should be the last to offer imitations. We know that everything we suggested would have been of the best materials and workmanship obtainable, and in our opinion of a real and lasting aesthetic value.6

A letter from the tactful Miss Butler states that after all, their scheme was accepted but she regrets that there was a general feeling among the Fellows, that they would in any case prefer the window treatment in the Dining Room to be different from that in the Combination Room.7 The committee suggested the curtains should be of a warmer, darker tone and not necessarily be hand-printed linen. Instead of being made to go round the bow, they should pull straight across and falling to the floor. Samples were requested.

By the 31 October Miss M G Jones and Miss H M Robertson resigned from the committee because we do so because our criticisms of Misses Barron and Larcher’s scheme received no support at the Fellows’ meeting on 18th October. As we are agreed in thinking that the scheme lacks the dignity of treatment we should like to see, and that the estimate submitted is extravagant as a whole and uneven in detail.8

With the two dissenters out of the way, Barron & Larcher’s scheme proceeded, although still not without some difficulties. In the minutes of 4 November 1932 at a joint meeting of the building committee and curators’ committee, other schemes were discussed but no estimates sought. By the 13 November Miss Butler, worried about losing Barron and Larcher’s expertise, told them that the Council had now found £600 for the furnishings. The work continued but when the tables were provided these were not satisfactory in their present condition and they understood that you will undertake to have them made level and the surface sorted…next autumn when there has been full time for shrinkage. The walnut table supplied for the parlour is not liked and it is hoped that you will be able to arrange for this to be changed. The colour was a great disappointment and several members of the committee expressed dissatisfaction with the design.9

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