Friday, 13 January 2017

Bryan Browning V: Barn Hill House

Continuing my occasional series on the buildings of that remarkable local architect Bryan Browning. Over two years, commencing in 1843 and working for the Earl of Exeter, Browning undertook extensive renovations of the existing late 17th century house, making a complete transformation of the entrance front into one of the most monumental and masculine in Stamford.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Monday, 9 January 2017

Market Deeping

St Guthlac's proud tower looks south down Church Street - towards the market place and the stone bridge of the river Welland.  The street is broad with wide grass verges, and is lined with mostly stone, mostly 18th century houses.  None are particularly outstanding but all contribute to a satisfying whole - think orchestral players not soloists.  It is all very pleasant having a quality that is somewhere between the villagey and the urban, but still suffers visually from the period when the A15 thundered through.  In fact, like Bourne just a few miles north, Market Deeping feels as though it is place to pass through rather than a destination, which, I think, is a shame.  In the same way Deeping suffers from Lincolnshire's great sin of utilitarianism. The Market Place - roughly triangular, runs E-W parallel with the river, and is lined with grander buildings, some of them quite urban in scale.  The rather charming Town Hall is by Thomas Pilkington of Bourne and dates from 1835; the alms houses in Church Street are by Edward Browning (we've encountered him before) and date from 1877.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

St Guthlac, Market Deeping

Yesterday, the Feast of the Epiphany, I braved the cold and damp to visit the small market town of Market Deeping and the parish church of St Guthlac.  It was my first look inside.  It is a small, low slung building; the nave (Early English arcades and Perp clearstorey) darkened with late Victorian and early 20th century stained and painted glass.  The chancel in contrast is light filled, where the best glass is to be found in two of the south windows. The walls of both nave and chancel have been scraped down to the bare stone, probably when the church underwent restoration in 1872 under the hand of James Fowler of Louth who we have encountered before at Gunby. The Wake chapel on the north of the chancel is now the organ loft.  Perhaps then, a bit of a disappointment. Exterior is however graced by a strong Late Medieval west tower, which with its crisp ashlar stands in immaculate contrast to the humble rubble built walls of the rest of the church.  I suspect that the tower was built under the patronage of that remarkable woman Lady Margaret Beaufort, Lady of the Deepings, mother of Henry VII, grandmother of Henry VIII and descendant of the Wakes.
The porch contains a really quite beautiful set of nineteenth cast iron gates by Colemans the local iron founders, and the churchyard gates too are quite fine,though not quite so nice.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Seasons Greetings


Merry Christmas


Happy New Year

 to you all

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Own work: Life drawing XXXI

Finally, after a delay of nearly two weeks, posting the single drawing done on the life drawing session before Christmas - a single pose for 2hrs.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Birmingham: St Chad's cathedral

Birmingham has suffered a lot in the 20th century from rapacious Modernity.  The centre is scarred by arterial roads and ill considered developments.  This was illustrated pretty well in the City Museum and Art Gallery where there were two schemes on display from the Midcentury: a great model of the Beaux Arts Centenary Square off Broad St, and a drawing (rather good one) of a suburban tower block development.  The former looked as though it was a refugee from the Third Reich and the latter like it was attempting an impersonation of the Karl Marx Allee in the former East Berlin. Neither scheme seemed to have anything to do with character of the city.  Were we so unsure of ourselves that we had to ape the urban forms of Totalitarian Modernity?
The area around St Chad's Cathedral (1839-41, and early work by A W N Pugin) is a practical illustration of my point.  Pugin designed St Chad's to fit into a tight, dense urban context of narrow streets; it was not designed to be seen, as now, across dual carriageways and open space.  And that's why it looks oh-so slightly disappointing.  However in his materials - brick and sandstone - Pugin acknowledges the genius loci, though the design has a sort of North German feel to it as though it was designed not for a canal-side in the English Midlands but the side of the Baltic.  Apart from the facade the outside is plain, even frugal: few mouldings and fewer buttresses.  As I've said this partly from the fact that it was not really designed for public exposure, but also, I think, for the sake of economy.  No English Medieval church of this scale would be quite so parsimonious.  Still the mass and grouping of the liturgical east end is quite dramatic, verging on the sublime.
The interior is something else, a sort of hollowing out of the dense early Victorian city fabric to create a soaring numinous space in which to encounter the divine.  The sandstone columns are very attenuated; the whole space has a sort of delicacy and fragility.  Again Pugin works with incredible economy.  There are great vast acres of flat wall surface, contrasting with flashes of rich detail.  The fragility extends to the roofs, which have a thinness typical of his work.  A medieval roof would be massive in comparison.  Again rapacious Modernity has been at work inside as well as out, denuding the interior of a number of Pugin's rich furnishings.  The greatest loss is the Rood screen which is now happily in Holy Trinity, Reading.  Interestingly Pugin partly furnished St Chad's with architectural antiques such as the German Late Gothic/Early Renaissance pulpit.
The SW chapel is a very sensitive addition dating from the 1930s by S P Powell.