The passing of our Chairman

The Corfu Heritage Foundation deeply regrets the passing of our beloved Chairman, Count Spiro Flamburiari. Our Chairman was a charismatic leader, a guide to humanity and a source of benefaction.

The funeral service of the late Spiro Flamburiari (1930-2023) will take place on Tuesday, 19th December 2023, at 12pm at Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Moscow Road, London W2 4LQ.

The committal will follow at 2pm at Gunnersbury Cemetery, 143 Gunnersbury Avenue, London W3 8LE.

Those who wish to make a donation in his memory could refer to the Kapodistrias Philharmonic Association, 13 Agion Pateron Street, Corfu, GR 49100, +30 26610 33990,, IBAN: GR900140681002002012574.

With our deepest appreciation,

The Corfu Heritage Foundation


Corfu, 5 December 2023

Resolution on the passing of the Corfu patriot Spiro Flamburiari, Chairman of the “Corfu Heritage Foundation”

The Board of Directors of the “Kapodistrias” Philharmonic Association of Corfu convened expressly today, Tuesday, 5 December 2023, following the sad news of the passing of the Corfu patriot Spiro Flamburiari, President of the “Corfu Heritage Foundation”, and unanimously decided the following:

1. To express sincere and warm condolences to the family and associates of the deceased.
2. The “Kapodistrias” F.A.C. flag should be flown at half mast for three days as a sign of mourning.
3. The “Kapodistrias” F.A.C. Board of Directors should be present at the funeral procession.
4. The “Kapodistrias” F.A.C. Music Corps should accompany the interment.
5. To present a wreath at the funeral service.
6. To publish the present resolution in the local press.

Spiro Flamburiari, a native of Corfu, leaves an indelible mark on the history of the “Kapodistrias” Philharmonic Association of Corfu. With his generous and emblematic attitude, he provided for its development, opening new horizons for the future.

The varied activity of Spiro Flamburiari is reflected in his role as a man of the world with cultural interests and dedication to benevolence. His beneficial works are not limited to the establishment of the “Corfu Heritage Foundation”, but also extend to the “Kapodistrias” Philharmonic Association of Corfu through the “Aimilia and Spiro Flamburiari Foundation”, promoting the cultural wealth of Corfu.

In this same way, Spiro Flamburiari manages to leave a lasting impression on his country, strengthening culture and contributing to the preservation of cultural heritage for future generations.

For the Board of Directors
Spyros Koskinas, Chairman
Spyros Vlachos, General Secretary


London, 18 December 2023

Dear Dr Rogakos,

On behalf of the Council and members of The Anglo-Hellenic League I am writing to express our deep condolences on the death of Count Spiro Flamburiari.

The Count was the embodiment of the values of Anglo-Hellenism. He was a great bridge between Britain and Greece: between two peoples and two cultures. His love and knowledge of the heritage, history and culture of his πατρίδα Corfu shone out not only in his personality but also in the fine legacy he has bequeathed: the Corfu Heritage Foundation and the Edward Lear Society. Few people have both understood the historic and continuing ties between Britain and Corfu and succeeded in strengthening them as the Count did. He will be sorely missed, though his memory will, I am sure, be sustained and carried forward by the organisations and many friends he has left behind.

I would be grateful if you could transmit our condolences to Milly, the late Count’s widow, and their family, and to the trustees of the Corfu Heritage Foundation. We all grieve together the loss of a great Corfiot, a great Anglophile and a great man.

The League will be represented at tomorrow’s funeral by Ms Roula Konzotis, the Vice-Chair of the Council of the League.

Yours most sincerely,

Dr John Kittmer
The Anglo-Hellenic League, Chair

[reproduced with permission]


The funeral service of our beloved Chairman, the late Spiro Flamburiari, at Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Bayswater, on the 19th December 2023, was in keeping with his high standards.

It was wonderful that on a rainy winter’s day most of his good friends turned up. Sir Thimios Mitropoulos, Mr & Mrs Thanassis Makris, Mr Elias Capodistria, Mr & Mrs Sakis Prassas, Dr Ian Weir, Lady Marina Marks and Dr Martin Kisch, Mr & Mrs Richard Bernaise, Mr & Mrs Derek Johns, Duke and Duchess of St Albans, Lord Norman Lamont, Mrs Karen Phillipps, Mr Adrian Ginsberg, Mr & Mrs Peter Gray, Dr & Mrs Nicholas Richardson, Mr Alexandros Kedros, Mr George Kratsas, Ms Constance Kratsa, Mrs Agalis Manessi, Mrs Melita Kourkoumelis-Chakiris, Mrs Annabelle Louvros, Mrs Fiona Forsyth, Ms Maria Dry, Mr & Mrs Ken Reilly, Mr & Mrs Gaspar Gilroy, Mrs Christine Craig and Mr Nikos Kalliafas are some of those attending. There was also Ms Roula Konzotis, representing the Anglo-Hellenic League. The funeral service, led by the Archimandrite Theonas Bakalis, Dean of the Cathedral, was solemn and serene, alas without psalms, but friends even from other faiths admired it.

Mr George Kratsas had Countess Flamburiari’s permission to deliver a eulogy at the end of the service, which honoured our Chairman quite appropriately. He mentioned the Corfu Heritage Foundation with a wish that it may carry on its mission successfully in the future.

The committal at Gunnersbury Cemetery, Chiswick, was also well attended by most of the participants in the funerary service.

The Corfu Heritage Foundation


George Kratsas, “Eulogy for Spiro Flamburuari”

Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, London, 19 December 2023

It is with great pain that we are gathered here today to say goodbye to a friend and a formidable man, Spiro Flamburiari. A benefactor and philanthropist who marked not only the lives of those around him, but society at large.

Spiro’s charisma was the result of human characteristics that are rarely found nowadays: chivalry, ethos, grace, patriotism combined with his friendliness and sense of hospitality.

Being the descendant of a historical family, with roots in Constantinople, and whose trajectory played a distinguished part in the political and cultural life of the Ionian islands, Spiro was conscious of the significance of this history, which drove his affection and sense of duty towards Ionian history and culture. It was this connection that brought us together, our family and his, through our common link to the Flamburiari family, of which my grandmother was also a part.

In 2000 he managed to create the Corfu Heritage Foundation with a vision to promote Anglo-Hellenic relations for which he worked for a number of years as a goodwill ambassador. The institution is endowed with a significant collection of artworks by various local and international artists, the majority of which depict Corfu and the Ionian Islands. Among the organisations he benefited were the Ionian University, the Mantzaros Philharmonic and the Corfu Reading Society, one of the most historic intellectual institutions of Hellenism. With a donation he recently made, an elevator was even installed in the Reading Society. After all, a bronze bust of Edward Lear was placed on his own initiative in 2014 in the emblematic area of the Reading Society, to honour the long and deep spiritual relationship between Greece and England. This man of Corfu was one of the founding members of the British society ( for the memory and work of the amazing painter and traveller, who became an “ambassador” of the island’s beauty as much as the Durrells.

Spiro’s life showcased the importance of preserving our identity as Ionians and Corfiots and the benefits of education and remembrance in society. He understood better than most, that the sense pride and belonging, which is so prevalent among us Ionians, rely on understanding the common elements that distinguish us as people and bind our society together. And Spiro devoted his life to this cause because he knew in his heart that it was a justified one.

He founded the Corfu Heritage Foundation to preserve and promote Ionian history and he co-founded the Edward Lear Society in London. He was recently recognised by the Corfiot Reading Society and the Mantzaros Philarmonic as a great benefactor. His last act, the creation of the Spiro and Aemilia Flamburiari Foundation will ensure that he will continue to leave his mark and benefit our society for many years to come.

He always held himself to a high standard and demanded a similarly high standard from those around him and of his country’s and Corfu’s elected officials. He did not hesitate to condemn indifference and selfishness, even publicly, and was always clear about the importance of upholding social values and good morals in modern society.

Spiro’s personality was always supplemented by the elegant and gracious presence of his wife, Milly, a successful painter and avid art enthusiast who was always on his mind. Their strong bond has been an exemplar union for younger generations to aspire to.

Spiro’s loss, which came only a few weeks after the passing of his wonderful sister Aemilia, will be truly felt by all those around him. But thanks to his actions, his legacy will carry on and be remembered for many years to come.

We will remember him fondly and on behalf of my family I offer to his wife, Milly, our deepest condolences.


Margarita Pournara, “Spiro Flamburiari, a rare patriot of Corfu, has passed away”

Kathimerini, 8 December 2023

He had unwavering blue eyes sharpened by intelligence and a kind of old-fashioned nobility that you only find in the Ionian. Spiro Flamburiari, a native of Corfu – by origin and manners – passed away a few days ago, two months after I first met him on his island. He did me the honour of welcoming me to his home for lunch and unfolding aspects of his extremely interesting and varied life that he always kept out of the limelight.

I was impressed by his mind and his disposition despite his 93 years to constantly make plans, typical of creative people who have indomitable spiritual energy. An aristocratic scion with roots from Constantinople, with a house in the old town that is today the Cavalieri Hotel, Flamburiari spent his early years in the kantounia (narrow alleys of Corfu) but quickly left for abroad where he excelled in business.

He married the British lady Milly, a painter who studied at Saint Martins but for the sake of her husband she loved Corfu above all. Even though he lived in London for 60 years, he always had his heart in his homeland. He proved it in practice since he became a great benefactor with a concern to protect the culture of the Ionian and particularly of his birthplace through the support of worthy institutions.

In 2000 he managed to create the Corfu Heritage Foundation with a vision to promote Anglo-Hellenic relations for which he worked for a number of years as a goodwill ambassador. The institution is endowed with a significant collection of artworks by various local and international artists, the majority of which depict Corfu and the Ionian Islands. Among the organizations he benefited were the Ionian University, the Mantzaros Philharmonic and the Corfu Reading Society, one of the most historic intellectual institutions of Hellenism. With a donation he recently made, an elevator was even installed in the Reading Society. After all, a bronze bust of Edward Lear was placed on his own initiative in 2014 in the emblematic area of the Reading Society, to honour the long and deep spiritual relationship between Greece and England. This man of Corfu was one of the founding members of the British society ( for the memory and work of the amazing painter and traveller, who became an “ambassador” of the island’s beauty as much as the Durrells.

In recent years, he prepared the creation of a new, larger foundation, which will act as the administrator of his legacy, under the name “Aemilia and Spiro Flamburiari Foundation” and aimed at helping the spiritual, cultural and educational institutions of Corfu. The deceased will be buried in London.

[original article in Greek translated by Megakles Rogakos]

The Ionian University honours Guilford


The portrait of Lord Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford (1766-1827), as well as the degree awarded to him by the University of Oxford in 1819, as part of the honoured person’s efforts to establish and organise the Ionian Academy, now adorn the Ionian University, after the acceptance by the Senate of the Academic Foundation of the donation of the President of the Rothschild Foundation, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and the President of the Corfu Heritage Foundation, Count Spiro Flamburiari.

The exhibits for the tribute to Guilford have been placed in the reception hall of the Rectorate of the Ionian University, on the ground floor of the Ionian Academy, from 4 April 2022.

The exhibits include an enlarged portrait of Guilford, founder of the Ionian Academy, incised by Pietro Mancion (1803-1888) around 1830, and the Degree of Doctor of Civil Law, awarded by the University of Oxford to Guilford as recognition of the British philhellene -although he declared himself a Hellene and not Philhellene- to establish the Ionian Academy, which officially took place on 29 May 1824.

According to the information officer of the Corfu Heritage Foundation, Dr Megakles Rogakos, the portrait is inspired by the bust of Guilford that the Corfiot sculptor Pavlos Prosalentis (1784-1837) crafted in marble and adorned the library of the Ionian Academy until its destruction in the bombing of Corfu by Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, on 13 September 1943.

The work of the archival mounting was overseen by the conservator of works of art Spyridoula Prifti, while the back of the degree is a donation of the Director of the Printshop Corfu Nikos Zabelis.

The degree is inscribed in the official Latin language and states the following: “The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford, all to whom the present Document shall come, everlasting greetings in the Lord. Since the most honourable Lord Frederick Earl of Guilford, Baron Guilford distinguished in rank, intellect and study of humane pursuits, has auspiciously enhanced the glory and honours of his ancestors, and has given exceptional service both to this university and, especially, to all Greek universities. And since he has been elevated to the highest office and dignity of the Chancellorship in the Academy established by his own counsels in the Ionian Islands, be it known that we, the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars, praying for all that is favourable and auspicious for him and for his Academy, adorning with our greatest honour the aforesaid man, being distinguished with such great and varied merits, appoint and announce this same most honourable Lord, Lord Frederick, Earl of Guildford, Baron Guildford, as a Doctor of Civil Law, and desire him to enjoy and rejoice in all rights and privileges of the doctorate. As evidence whereof we have affixed hereto the common Seal of the University of Oxford, used for this function. Announced in our Convocation House on the thirtieth of October 1819.” [Translation by Barnaby Taylor, MA MSt DPhil Oxford – Faculty of Classics – University of Oxford]

Lord Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford (1766-1827) – British classicist scholar and collector of rare books and manuscripts; son of the 2nd Earl of Guilford; first British governor of Ceylon 1798-1805; and founder of the Ionian Academy, Corfu, 1824 – was a great philhellene, known above all for his philhellenic activity, especially during his life in the British protectorate of the United States of the Ionian Islands (1815-1827). In spite of the fact that the Ionian Academy was short-lived and eclipsed by the Union in 1864, it was the first Greek academic institution of modern times and forerunner of the University of Athens. Guilford promoted not just classical Greek culture but helped establish modern Greek as a language of education. His fascination with all things Greek had led him, earlier in life, to become a member of the Orthodox Church, secretly, at the instigation of Georgios Prosalentis. The Megas Protopapas Dimitrios Petrettinis (1722-1795) baptised Guilford in the Orthodox faith in the Petrettinis House, at 10 Kapodistriou Street, on 23 January 1791, at the age of 25, giving him the name “Dimitrios”. He later became a member of the British House of Commons and the first British governor of Ceylon, before becoming involved in his Ionian project.

The unveiling of the portrait of Lord Guilford and the degree awarded to him by the University of Oxford in 1819 took place at a special event to be held at the Rectorate of the Ionian University on Saturday, 7 May 2022.


The Donation of Guilford’s Portrait and Degree at the Ionian University

By Megakles Rogakos, MA MA PhD

At the Corfu Reading Society, the visitor discerns with respect the portrait of Guilford. A small and rare engraving of a great and unique personality – the English aristocrat and politician, who put into effect his vision to establish the first Greek university. It is exhibited centrally in the Reading Hall and – for those who know about him – it notionally dominates the whole room and potentially beyond it. Its creator is largely unknown – a Pietro Mancion (1803-1888), born in Ragusa and active in Rome. It is a portrait of Guilford based on the famous marble bust of 1827, the year of his death, by Pavlos Prosalentis (1784-1837). This important sculpture adorned the staircase of the Academy library until it was destroyed in the bombing of Corfu in 1943, which was a tragedy comparable to the infamous Guernica. The marble fragments of the bust are probably buried in the foundations of the building that currently serves as the University’s Rectorate. This particular engraving is important because it captures the lost bust rather with photographic fidelity.

Guilford looks out with the prestige of the Archon / Rector and is anciently dressed as a Doctor of Law, to a design by Prosalentis himself. According to a description in a letter to his sister Anne, written at Otranto on 1 June 1824, he is wearing a white tunic and a purple robe that a golden flower-shaped buckle props on his shoulder. A distinct accessory is the ancient means of keeping the rich lateral hair of his head fixed. He writes characteristically: “However, instead of Odysseus’ hat, I wore around my head a narrow black velvet ribbon embroidered on the front with gold laurel leaves and a golden owl” (British Library, Add. MS 61983, p. 129). This phrase on the one hand betrays his acquaintance with Homer. On the other hand, it refers to the central position of the owl, the bird of prey that successfully hunts even in deep darkness, as an emblem of the Ionian Academy’s aim to throw in the darkness of ignorance the light of wisdom. The coat of arms of the University in perpetuity shows the owl that stands upright on a laurel branch. As is well known, Guilford always wore the ring with the Athenian owl donated to him by the Philomuse Society of Athens since his election as its President in 1814.

The creation of the original engraving is so rich in visual information that it permitted its enlargement approximately to the size of the bust, with a height of 90 cm, as its copy, also of 1827, made by Ioannis Kalosgouros (1794-1878) and kept in National Gallery in Athens, preserves. With the kind sponsorship of the Corfu Heritage Foundation, the presence of the bust in the Rectorate is restored.

The portrait is accompanied by the Doctorate of Law awarded to Guilford by the University of Oxford on 30 October 1819 – a manuscript on vellum with tasselled ribbon supporting the wax seal of the university within a George III silver-gilt oval box by William Bateman, London. The cover is finely engraved with the coat of arms of the university, flanked by a doctoral cap. The parchment also mentions the most important reason for the graduate’s honour – his care to establish the Academy in the Ionian Islands, which was to take place five years later (1824).

Guilford deserves the highest honour. He loved Greece and the Greeks more than any other Greek. He enjoyed the support of the Greek revolutionaries who saw the founding of the Academy as part of the reconstruction of the nation and the regeneration of Greece. In his vision and work, of course, he had the support of Ioannis Kapodistrias. Guilford’s relationship with the Ionian University is renewed with this donation. The praise for the due honour goes to the Rector, Professor Andreas Floros. Thanks for the important donation to the President of the Rothschild Foundation, Lord Jacob Rothschild and to the President of the Corfu Heritage Foundation, Count Spiro Flamburiari. Greetings to the British Ambassador, Mr Matthew Lodz, who guarantees the perpetuity of Anglo-Hellenic friendship.

Corfu, 7 May 2022


Το Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο τιμά τον Γκίλφορντ

Η προσωπογραφία του Λόρδου Φρέντερικ Νορθ, 5ου Κόμη του Γκίλφορντ (1766-1827), καθώς και το πτυχίο που του απένειμε το Πανεπιστήμιο της Οξφόρδης το 1819, στο πλαίσιο των προσπαθειών του τιμωμένου για ίδρυση και οργάνωση της Ιονίου Ακαδημίας, κοσμούν πλέον το Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο μετά την αποδοχή από τη Σύγκλητο του Ακαδημαϊκού Ιδρύματος της δωρεάς του Προέδρου του Ιδρύματος Ρόθτσαϊλντ, Λόρδου Τζέικομπ Ρόθτσαϊλντ, και του Προέδρου του Ιδρύματος Κερκυραϊκής Κληρονομιάς, Κόμη Σπύρου Φλαμπουριάρη.

Τα εκθέματα για το αφιέρωμα στον Γκίλφορντ, έχουν τοποθετηθεί στην αίθουσα υποδοχής της Πρυτανείας του Ιονίου Πανεπιστημίου, στο ισόγειο της Ιονίου Ακαδημίας, από τις 4 Απριλίου 2022.

Πρόκειται για μία μεγεθυμένη προσωπογραφία του Γκίλφορντ, ιδρυτή της Ιονίου Ακαδημίας, που χάραξε ο Πιέτρο Μανθιόν (1803-1888) περίπου το 1830, και για το Πτυχίο Διδάκτορα Aστικού Δικαίου, που το Πανεπιστήμιο της Οξφόρδης απένειμε στον Γκύλφορντ το 1819, ως αναγνώριση των προσπαθειών του Βρετανού φιλέλληνα -μολονότι ο ίδιος δήλωνε Έλλην και όχι Φιλέλλην- να ιδρύσει την Ιόνιο Ακαδημία, γεγονός που επισήμως έλαβε χώρα την 29η Μαΐου 1824.

Όπως αναφέρει ο υπεύθυνος επικοινωνίας του Ιδρύματος Κερκυραϊκής Κληρονομιάς, Δρ Μεγακλής Ρογκάκος, η προσωπογραφία είναι εμπνευσμένη από την προτομή του Γκίλφορντ που φιλοτέχνησε σε μάρμαρο ο Κερκυραίος γλύπτης Παύλος Προσαλέντης (1784-1837) και κοσμούσε τη Βιβλιοθήκη της Ιονίου Ακαδημίας μέχρι την καταστροφή της κατά τον βομβαρδισμό της Κερκύρας από τη Λουφτβάφε, τη γερμανική πολεμική αεροπορία, στις 13 Σεπτεμβρίου 1943.

Το έργο της αρχειακής ανάρτησης φρόντισε η συντηρήτρια έργων τέχνης Σπυριδούλα Πρίφτη, ενώ η πλάτη που υποδέχτηκε το πτυχίο είναι δωρεά του Διευθυντή του Τυπογραφείου Κερκύρας Νίκου Ζαμπέλη.

Το πτυχίο αναγράφεται στην επίσημη λατινική γλώσσα και αναφέρει τα εξής: «Ὁ Καγκελάριος, οἱ Διδάσκαλοι καὶ Μελετητὲς τοῦ Πανεπιστημίου τῆς Ὀξφόρδης στοὺς ὁποίους θὰ φθάσει τὸ παρόν Ἔγγραφο, αἰώνιοι χαιρετισμοὶ ἐν Κυρίῳ. Ἐφόσον ὁ πλέον ἀξιότιμος Λόρδος Φρέντερικ Κόμης τοῦ Γκίλφορντ, Βαρόνος Γκίλφορντ, διακεκριμένος σὲ βαθμό, διάνοια καὶ μελέτη ἀνθρωπιστικῶν ἀναζητήσεων, ἔχει αἰσίως ἀνυψώσει τὴ δόξα καὶ τὶς τιμές τῶν προγόνων του, καὶ ἔχει προσφέρει ἐξαιρετικὲς ὑπηρεσίες τόσο σὲ αὐτὸ τὸ πανεπιστήμιο ὅσο καί, ἰδίως, σὲ ὅλα τὰ ἑλληνικὰ πανεπιστήμια καὶ ἀφοῦ ἀνῆλθε στὸ ὑψηλότερο ἀξίωμα καὶ τίτλο τῆς Καγκελαρίας στὴν Ἀκαδημία ποὺ ἱδρύθηκε ἀπὸ τὶς δικές του φροντίδες στὶς Ἰόνιες Νήσους. Ἂς γίνει γνωστὸ ὅτι ἐμεῖς, ὁ Καγκελάριος, οἱ Διδάσκαλοι καὶ Μελετητές, προσευχόμενοι γιὰ ὅ,τι εἶναι εὐνοϊκὸ καὶ αἴσιο γιὰ αὐτὸν καὶ γιὰ τὴν Ἀκαδημία του, κοσμώντας μὲ τὴ μεγαλύτερη τιμή μας τὸν προαναφερθέντα ἄνδρα, ποὺ διακρίνεται γιὰ τόσο μεγάλα καὶ ποικίλα πλεονεκτήματα, διορίζουμε καὶ ἀνακηρύσσουμε αὐτὸν τὸν πιὸ ἀξιότιμο Λόρδο, Λόρδο Φρέντερικ, Κόμη τοῦ Γκίλφορντ, Βαρόνο Γκίλφορντ, ὡς Δόκτορα Ἀστικοῦ Δικαίου, καὶ τὸν θέλουμε νὰ ἀπολαμβάνει καὶ νὰ χαίρει ὃλων τῶν δικαιωμάτων καὶ τῶν προνομίων τοῦ διδακτορικοῦ αὐτοῦ τίτλου. Ὡς ἀπόδειξη τοῦ ὡς ἄνω ἐπισυνάπτουμε ἐδῶ τὴν κοινὴ Σφραγίδα τοῦ Πανεπιστημίου τῆς Ὀξφόρδης, ποὺ ἐπικυρώνει αὐτὀ τὸ ἀξίωμα. Ἀνακοινώθηκε στὴν Σύγκλητο τὴν 30ὴ Ὀκτωβρίου 1819.» [Μετάφραση Μεγακλή Ρογκάκου, MA MA PhD – Πανεπιστήμιο του Έσσεξ – Φιλοσοφία & Ιστορία της Τέχνης]

Ο Λόρδος Φρέντερικ Νορθ, 5ος Κόμης του Γκίλφορντ (1766-1827) –βρετανός κλασικιστής μελετητής και συλλέκτης σπανίων βιβλίων και χειρογράφων· υιός του 2ου Κόμη του Γκίλφορντ· πρώτος Bρετανός κυβερνήτης της Κεϋλάνης την περίοδο 1798-1805 και ιδρυτής της Ιονίου Ακαδημίας στην Κέρκυρα το 1824– υπήρξε μέγιστος φιλέλληνας, γνωστός για τη φιλελληνική δράση του, κυρίως κατά τη διάρκεια της ζωής του στη βρετανική προστασία του Ενωμένου Κράτους των Ιονίων Νήσων (1815-1827). Παρά το γεγονός ότι η Ιόνιος Ακαδημία ήταν βραχύβια και εκλείφθηκε με την Ένωση το 1864, ήταν το πρώτο ελληνικό ακαδημαϊκό ίδρυμα της νέας εποχής και πρόδρομος του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών. Ο Γκίλφορντ προώθησε όχι μόνο τον κλασικό ελληνικό πολιτισμό, αλλά βοήθησε να καθιερωθεί η νέα ελληνική ως γλώσσα εκπαίδευσης. Ο ζήλος του για ο,τιδήποτε ελληνικό τον είχε οδηγήσει, ενωρίτερα στη ζωή του, να γίνει μέλος της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας κρυφά, με προτοροπή του Γεωργίου Προσαλέντη. Ο Μέγας Πρωτόπαπας Δημήτριος Πετρεττίνης (1722-1795) βάπτισε τον Γκίλφορντ στην Ορθόδοξη πίστη στην Οικία Πετρεττίνη, επί της Οδού Καποδιστρίου 10, τη νύχτα της 23ης Ιανουαρίου 1791, σε ηλικία 25 ετών, δίδοντάς του το όνομα «Δημήτριος». Αργότερα έγινε βουλευτής της βρετανικής Βουλής των Κοινοτήτων και πρώτος Βρετανός κυβερνήτης της Κεϋλάνης, προτού εμπλακεί στο Ιόνιο εγχείρημά του.

Τα αποκαλυπτήρια της προσωπογραφίας του Λόρδου Γκίλφορντ και του πτυχίου που του απένειμε το Πανεπιστήμιο της Οξφόρδης το 1819 πραγματοποιήθηκαν σε ειδική εκδήλωση που έλαβε χώρα στην Πρυτανεία του Ιονίου Πανεπιστημίου το Σάββατο, 7 Μαΐου 2022.


Η Δωρεά της Προσωπογραφίας και του Πτυχίου του Γκίλφορντ στο Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο

Του Μεγακλή Ρογκάκου, MA MA PhD

Στην Αναγνωστική Εταιρία Κερκύρας, ο επισκέπτης διακρίνει με σεβασμό την προσωπογραφία του Γκίλφορντ. Ένα μικρό και σπάνιο χαρακτικό μίας τεράστιας και μοναδικής προσωπικότητας – του Άγγλου αριστοκράτη και πολιτικού, που έκανε πράξη το όραμά του να ιδρύσει το πρώτο ελληνικό πανεπιστήμιο. Εκτίθεται κεντρικά στην Αίθουσα του Αναγνωστηρίου και –για αυτούς που τον γνωρίζουν– δεσπόζει νοητά σε όλη την αίθουσα και δυνητικά πέρα από αυτήν. Ο δημιουργός της είναι εν πολλοίς άγνωστος – ένας Πιέτρο Μανθιόν (1803-1888), γεννημένος στην Ραγούσα και ενεργός στη Ρώμη. Είναι μία προσωπογραφία του Γκίλφορντ που φιλοτεχνήθηκε με βάση την περίφημη μαρμάρινη προτομή του 1827, έτος του θανάτου του, από τον Παύλο Προσαλέντη (1784-1837). Αυτό το σημαντικό γλυπτό κοσμούσε το κλιμακοστάσιο της βιβλιοθήκης της Ακαδημίας μέχρι που καταστράφηκε στον βομβαρδισμό της Κερκύρας το 1943, που ήταν τραγωδία ανάλογη της διαβόητης Γκερνίκα. Τα μαρμάρινα θραύσματα της προτομής είναι μάλλον θαμμένα στα θεμέλια του κτιρίου που επί του παρόντος λειτουργεί ως Πρυτανεία του Πανεπιστημίου. Το συγκεκριμένο χαρακτικό έχει σημασία διότι καταγράφει μάλλον με φωτογραφική πιστότητα τη χαμένη προτομή.

Ο Γκίλφορντ κοιτάζει μακριά με το κύρος του Άρχοντα / Πρύτανη και είναι ενδεδυμένος αρχαιοπρεπώς ως διδάκτορας της Νομικής, σε σχέδιο του ίδιου του Προσαλέντη. Σύμφωνα με περιγραφή σε επιστολή του προς την αδελφή του Ανν, γραμμένη από το Οτράντο την 1η Ιουνίου 1824, φορά κατάσαρκα λευκό χιτώνα και από επάνω φέρει πορφυρό ιμάτιο που συγκρατεί στον ώμο μία χρυσή ανθόμορφη πόρπη. Ένα διακριτό εξάρτημα είναι ο αρχαιοπρεπής τρόπος που διατηρεί σταθερή την πλούσια πλευρική κόμη της κεφαλής του. Γράφει χαρακτηριστικά: «Ωστόσο, αντί για τη σκούφια του Οδυσσέα, έφερα γύρω από την κεφαλή μου μία στενή μαύρη βελούδινη ταινία κεντημένη στο εμπρόσθιο μέρος με χρυσά φύλλα δάφνης και μία χρυσή γλαυκή» (British Library, Add. MS 61983, p. 129). Αυτή η φράση αφενός προδίδει τη εξοικείωσή του με τον Όμηρο. Αφετέρου αναφέρεται στην κεντρική θέση που είχει η γλαυκή, το αρπακτικό πτηνό που κυνηγά επιτυχώς ακόμη και στο βαθύ σκοτάδι, ως έμβλημα του στόχου της Ιονίου Ακαδημίας να ρίξει στο σκοτάδι της άγνοιας το φως της σοφίας. Το οικόσημο του Πανεπιστημίου στο διηνεκές παρουσιάζει τη γλαυκή να στέκεται όρθια σε έναν κλάδο δάφνης. Ως γνωστόν, ο Γκίλφορντ έφερε πάντα επάνω του το δαχτυλίδι με την αθηναϊκή γλαύκα που του δώρισε η Φιλόμουσος Εταιρεία των Αθηνών από εκλογής του ως Προέδρου της το 1814.

Το πλάσιμο του γνησίου χαρακτικού είναι τόσο πλούσιο σε εικαστική πληροφορία που επέτρεψε τη μεγέθυνσή του περίπου στο μέγεθος της προτομής, με ύψος 90 εκατοστά, όπως διασώζει το αντίγραφό της, επίσης του 1827, που φιλοτέχνησε ο Ιωάννης Καλοσγούρος (1794-1878) και φυλάσσεται στην Εθνική Πινακοθήκη στην Αθήνα. Με την ευγενική χορηγία του Ιδρύματος Κερκυραϊκής Κληρονομιάς αποκαθίσταται η παρουσία της προτομής στην Πρυτανεία.

Την προσωπογραφία συνοδεύει το Πτυχίο του Διδάκτορα της Νομικής που απένειμε στον Γκίλφορντ το Πανεπιστήμιο της Οξφόρδης στις 30 Οκτωβρίου 1819. Χειρόγραφο σε περγαμηνή με κορδέλα και φούντα που υποστηρίζει τη κήρινη σφραγίδα του πανεπιστημίου μέσα σε επίχρυσο αργυρό οβάλ κυτίο από τον Γουίλιαμ Μπέητμαν, Λονδίνο. Το κάλυμμα του κυτίου είναι χαραγμένο με το οικόσημο του πανεπιστημίου, περικαλυμμένο από μία διδακτορική κάπα. Στην περγαμηνή μνημονεύεται και ο σημαντικότερος λόγος της τιμής που αρμόζει στον πτυχιούχο – η φροντίδα του να ιδρύσει την Ακαδημία στις Ιόνιες Νήσους, που έμελε να γίνει γεγονός πέντε έτη αργότερα (1824).

Στον Γκίλφορντ αρμόζει η υψίστη τιμή. Αγάπησε την Ελλάδα και τους Έλληνες περισσότερο από οποιονδήποτε φιλέλληνα. Έχαιρε της υποστήριξης των επαναστατημένων Ελλήνων που είδαν την ίδρυση της Ακαδημίας ως μέρος της ανασυγκρότησης του γένους και της παλλιγγενεσίας της Ελλάδας. Στο όραμα και στο έργο του είχε φυσικά και την υποστήριξη του Ιωάννη Καποδίστρια. Η σχέση του Γκίλφορντ με το Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο ανανεώνεται με την παρούσα δωρεά. Τα εύσημα για την οφειλόμενη τιμή στον Πρύτανη, Καθηγητή Ανδρέα Φλώρο. Ευχαριστίες για τη σημαντική δωρεά στον Πρόεδρο του Ιδρύματος Ρόθτσαϊλντ, Λόρδο Τζέικομπ Ρόθτσαϊλντ και στον Πρόεδρο του Ιδρύματος Κερκυραϊκής Κληρονομιάς, Κόμη Σπύρο Φλαμπουριάρη. Χαιρετισμούς και στο Βρετανό Πρέσβη, Κύριο Μάθιου Λοτζ, που εγγυάται το διηνεκές της ελληνοαγγλικής φιλίας.

Κέρκυρα, 7 Μαΐου 2022

Two cuttings in The Gentleman’s Magazine, London, July to December 1819, Volume LXXXIX, pp. 443-445.
The Ionian University rectorate’s entrance hall.
Conservator Spyridoula Prifti mounting Guilford’s degree on the back.
Conservator Spyridoula Prifti polishing the degree’s silver seal box.
Conservator Spyridoula Prifti mounting the degree’s lid of the silver seal box.
Conservator Spyridoula Prifti standing by Guilford’s portrait and degree.
The vitrine hosting Guilford’s degree.
The display of Guilford’s degree.
Lord Rothschild and Count Flamburiari at the Corfu Reading Society on 30 May 2014.