070511.Walcot, Lime Window (St Stephen’s Pevsner Architectural Church Chat)

May 11, 2007 at 5:19 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Ladders, people, Pevsner, Preservation, Restoration, somerset, Tabernacles, Towers, Walcot | 9 Comments

Right where this metal scaffold pole cuts across those two streets (top: St. Stephen’s Rd, bot: Richmond Rd–and left of the pole is called Lansdown Rd) was the site of an 18th C turnpike.
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These ladders stretch three scaffolding levels. This was the lowest of three. The scaffolding went up the height of the tower, 30 meters, or so. It was also raining hard.
I took the sunny photo back in early November 2006. St Stephen’s put it up early to survey the repairs needed. These repairs are being carried out by Minerva Stone Conservators, who waited until spring for the “lime window.” As responsible conservators, all masonry repairs are being carried out with lime mortar, which takes a long time to set and cannot set during potential periods of frost. Below two conservators apply a dry lime mortar in the masonry joints and apply a cotton-like substance over sections.
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Designed to serve the spiritual needs of NE Bath by James Wilson and built between 1840-1845, St Stephen’s Church on Lansdown Road in Walcot cost 6,000 pounds (*today it cost 60,000 just for the scaffolding!) “It is broad and somewhat Georgian in proportion, and still in the mix-and-match style of the 1830s,, with lancets, but also Perp-style octagonal buttresses. The tower, similar to the W towers of Ely Cathedral (c.1400) or Antwerp Cathedral (1519), is a very imporant visual focus on Bath’s N slopes. Starting square and E.E., then at once turning octagonal, with detached big octagonal corner pinnacles connected with the octagonal, with detached big octagonal corner pinnacles connected with the octagon by traceried flying buttresses; a smaller octagon on top with pinnacles is arranged in the same way. The nave and transept are very be-pinnacled, with pierced parapets. Two-light lancet windows and cusped Y-tracery. The church remained unconsecrated for some forty years until 1881, after which W.J. Willcox built the very wide apsidal chancel in 1882-1883, together with the vestry and organ chamber (at a cost of 3,000 pounds). The handsome painted ceiling, 1886, is by W.J. Willcox, executed by H.&F. Davis. The NE aisle was added in 1866 for the use of the Royal School, presumably by Wilson & Willcox, in a harsh Gothic typical of the alter work of the firm and contrasting with the style of 1840. –Stained glass. E Window, Lady Chapel by Mark Angus, 1983, the ‘Centenary,’ depicting St Stephen’s transformation, on the bridge between life and death t the moement of martyrdom. With distorted ambiguity between pain and repose, the body rises amid red flames on a blue ground. –Font and font cover. Marble, florid Gothic, dated 1843. –Transept ceiling and reredos. By Sir T. G. Jackson [of Oxford University’s building program fame], c. 1900, then working on the Abbey. Slade, Smith and Winrow converted the crypt to a parish room in 1993-1994.”–Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 265-266.

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Here’s the cornerstone to the apsidal chancel. Yes, a Masters of the Arts symbolically laid this stone, possibly touched it but probably didn’t carve or do anything artistic with it. (Perhaps it was his brilliant idea to repeat Grace. *Also, just noted that the degree makes his name off-center, as if it was added as an afterthought, either because he earned it later and had it carved into the stone, or feared it might be taken away so he could have it filled in with his name remaining centered.) I have no idea why everyone in the UK insists on putting their educational degrees on everything. Here it is on a cornerstone. I’ve seen it in books, presentations, and even tombstones. Almost without fail, they also include (Hons), if applicable, or even organizations they belong to (that they had to simply pay to join).
Another thing to note with this CORNERstone is one side’s red tint. There is a local red algae that’s around here and the red shade indicates the colder north facade of this church where the sun doesn’t warm the stone and evaporate the dampness.

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