BRLSI: welcoming new faces

Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) recently welcomed a new Chair of Management and a new Chair of Directors. Both have been working with the institution over the last couple of years and understand both the challenges the institution faces as well as its manifold strengths. We welcome them warmly to the BRLSI fold and find out a bit more about them, including what their favourite pieces from the collection are…

Ian Gadd is Professor of English Literature at Bath Spa University, where he has worked since 2002. In the last few years, he has been seconded to oversee many of the University’s international collaborations and projects, including the Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA), an international network of universities and colleges with an interest in the liberal arts. He has research interests in the history of printing, publishing, and reading with a particular focus on the London and Oxford book trades in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries; he is also a General Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift.

Ian’s New Role
“I am one of the Board’s appointed rather than elected Directors, nominated by Bath Spa University in 2019. It’s an honour to have succeeded Betty Suchar, a veteran stalwart of the institution, as the Chair of the Board of Directors, and I’m very excited to be in this role as the institution emerges from a very challenging 20 or so months and looks forward to its 2024 bicentenary and beyond. Our collections, exhibitions, public talks and events, and other activities – all of which rely on the hard work of our staff and a legion of volunteers – mean that the institution occupies a unique place in Bath’s cultural landscape as an organisation dedicated to the public promotion and advancement of science, literature, and the arts. My goal as Chair is to help the Board provide the strategic support needed to ensure that the institution becomes more visible, engaged, and sustainable over the coming years.”

Favourite Collection Item
“As someone interested in the history of books and their readers, inevitably my choice is a book – in this case Reverend Leonard Jenyns’ personal copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, with a letter from Darwin pasted into the front. Jenyns met Darwin in Cambridge when the latter was an undergraduate, and was key in recommending Darwin for the expedition of the HMS Beagle. Jenyns retired to Bath, and donated books, papers, and specimens to the Institution. You can learn more about Jenyns’ relationship with Darwin through the Bath Heritage Trails smartphone app (see which the Institution launched last summer and the copy, with Darwin’s letter, is on display in the foyer of BRLSI.”

Julie Cole has been working in the museum and heritage sector since 2005 and runs her own consultancy business specialising in charity governance. She has also worked with a range of museums supporting their grant applications and is a National Lottery Heritage Fund mentor. Julie has been a trustee with East Grinstead Museum as well as charities supporting people with long term mental health issues, and supporting 18–25 year olds with learning disabilities and autism to take on meaningful work. Julie trained as a garden designer and for relaxation she enjoys designing and planting gardens for friends and family.

Julie’s New Role
“As the newly appointed Chair of Management I am excited to be working alongside BRLSI’s dedicated staff and volunteers and to be able to support them as they develop and deliver more exhibitions and stimulating talks programme, amongst other initiatives. I am particularly delighted to be part of the team developing activities and events to commemorate BRLSI’s bicentennial celebrations in 2024 and look forward to meeting The Bath Magazine’s readers and hearing their feedback.”

Favourite Collection Item
“This stunningly beautiful brooch was discovered during the 1905 excavation at Lansdown and the copper-alloy wheel would originally have been bold and bright. The delicate, tiny millefiori patterns would have been created by a specialist in glassmaking and enamelling, and the superb craftsmanship suggests it was a very expensive piece of jewellery. This item is a melding of Celtic symbolism and Roman dress code and is thought to have been created during the 1st century AD. The design could also lend itself to a Celtic knot-garden with a stunning display of red, white and blue flowers. Any takers?”

Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16–18 Queen Square, Bath;