Why Don't We Have the Gospels in the North and Loan Them out to the British Library for a Few Weeks Every Seven Years? Readers Quick to Condemn London Snub

The Journal (Newcastle, England), March 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

Why Don't We Have the Gospels in the North and Loan Them out to the British Library for a Few Weeks Every Seven Years? Readers Quick to Condemn London Snub


Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent

THE region's cultural voice last night accused the British Library of snubbing the North East.

A "patronising" decision to lend the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East for just three months every seven years has prompted widespread anger among arts fans.

British Library board members have been accused of treating the region like "a cultural wasteland" by refusing to consider a long-term loan, or a permanent return, of the 7th Century texts.

After The Journal revealed yesterday that the region would be given the "cultural crumbs" despite a growing campaign for the Gospels to be returned, readers bombarded the paper to express their outrage.

Culture Club members made it clear that the Library's "insulting" offer was not good enough.

News that the Gospels would be on display as early as 2010 was welcomed, but campaign supporters said this was only a fraction of what the region deserves.

In a stinging attack on the "cultural imperialism of London-based institutions" readers have urged the fight to continue.

Culture Club member Leigh Chelton summed up the views of many when she said the Library should consider keeping the Gospels in the region and loan them to London for three months every seven years.

Francis McSherry, of Cullercoats, described in her email how closely felt the campaign was to many readers.

She said: "The whole texture of the Gospels is steeped in Northumbrian personality and reflects the historic culture of the region.

"They belong here where we, the Northumbrian people, can easily access view and feel the ownership."

Library staff were accused of offering the limited loan as a way of "shutting up campaigners" by some, while others said it reflected the "arrogance of the establishment in the South East".

Daryl Hodgson, of Hexham, contacted The Journal to say the Gospels had "far more relevance here than in the British Library" and highlighted how the Gospels would have a much bigger tourism impact in the North East than they currently have in London.

And Culture Club member Bill Pickard said the Library seemed afraid to return the Gospels, describing the announcement as "nothing short of a slap in the face. It is not even a suitable compromise to our demands to have them back for keeps".

Dorothy Johnson, of Blyth, suggested the "cheeky" board members at the British Library had missed the point.

She said: "How nice of them to offer us the loan of our own Gospels, their generosity is totally overwhelming.

"The boot should be on the other foot."

Adrian Smith was slighter harsher in his judgment, saying it reflects badly on the region's political leadership if it cannot secure such a vital victory.

He said: "These items should be repatriated, not only to be returned to their rightful owners but to help develop culture and tourism in the regions. …

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