Jonathan Ruffer


...of all places.

In blogpostings 252 and 266 (way back in 2011) I got myself agitated over the future of 12 amazing paintings by the great Spanish ‘Golden Age’ painter Zurbarán.  They were bought in the 1750s by the then Prince Bishop of Durham, Richard Trevor, who built the Long Dining Room in Auckland Palace specially to house and display them - thus creating the first de facto purpose-built art gallery in Europe.

The last I’d heard was that they had, at least, been saved from sale at the philistine hands of the greedy bishopric of Durham, who were shamed by the generosity of businessman Jonathan Ruffer; he donated £25m to secure their future as well as the future of Auckland Palace itself.

Well things have moved on since then.  I’m glad to say that Mr Ruffer’s plans have been developed and enlarged; if all goes well, sad old Bishop Auckland will soon be adorned not just with the Zurbarán pictures but also with works by other Spanish Siglo Oro painters - El Greco, Ribera and Velázquez (no less) - as well as priceless sculptures, most of them newly-acquired.

The Auckland Castle Trust has said that although the Zurbarán paintings will stay where they are, the other artworks will be housed in the town’s new Spanish Art Gallery and Research Institute - two adjacent buildings in the Market Place that were once a bank and a school/pizzeria.

With any luck, it may soon be unavoidably necessary for me to change my admittedly jaded opinion of Bishop Auckland. - and I’ll be very, very happy to do so.

And Thankyou, Mr Ruffer - you made my day.
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In posting 583, I claimed responsibility for inventing a new word - Islamogyny - ‘hatred of Islam’.  Peter in South Shields has pointed out that, for someone who prides himself on his love of words and wordlore, I came grievously unstuck.


Islamogyny were to mean anything, it would simply be ‘Muslim women’'.  You were right to split misogyny and misanthropy, but you used the wrong bits!  It’s the mis- part that means ‘hatred’; ‘hatred of women’ and ‘hatred of men’.

So 'hatred of Islam' would surely be
misislamy, or something like that.’

Thanks Peter.  You're right - and you’ve made me feel thoroughly ashamed.
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