Wrangling over the Elgin Marbles

How can the endless wrangling between Greece and Britain be brought to an end? Careful and sensitive discussion will be essential. That should involve informed consideration of the historical background, including views expressed by some senior  politicians on the Tory side who have criticised certain aspects of British conduct in the past. Alistair Lexden made these points in a letter published in London’s Evening Standard on February 27 in its section entitled The Reader.

Discussion of the Elgin Marbles needs the kind of historical perspective that Nico Makris provides (The Reader,  February 24). It is important to remember that over the years even senior Conservative politicians have questioned have their British custodianship. 

Visiting Athens in 1869, Sir Stafford Northcote, a classical scholar and future Tory leader, referred angrily in his diary to Elgin’s “robbery of the Parthenon”. Another Tory diarist, Lord Crawford, who was a trustee of the British Museum, recorded in 1938 that the marbles “have been dangerously overcleaned by using unauthorised methods and instruments”.

Now is the time to give full and open consideration to arrangements that will best secure the future of the marbles.

Alistair Lexden