070506.Windsor, The Bits and Pieces of Spring Cleaning

May 6, 2007 at 3:53 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Castles, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Preservation, Restoration, Sculpture | 3 Comments

BDP to the moon!

Funny as it sounds, as the Queen’s home complex at Windsor is undergoing some TLC at the same moment the President’s home at the White House has to be spiffied up for her royal visit.070504.163.BE.Windsor.StGeo.W.8L
The repair of the West Front of St George’s Chapel at Windsor is being carried out by Martin Ashley Associates. Mr. Ashley very graciously showed us around the place. Here’s a few directions for a small part on that facade.
*Repair shoulders
*Shelter coat orange stonework
*[Deal with] Numerous cracks
*Replace head coade stone
*Replace toe
*Poultice clean
*Paint Analysis
*Remove from niche (carry out all work off site, often the best option)
It’s a Victorian statue, probably from Sir George Gilbert Scott’s restoration of the place. There are no original medieval statues remaining. The head does look a bit odd, but the toe! I should add that this statue is very very far up.
One more tidbit: according to archival photos, the head originally faced Mary but somehow turned around. (Miracle or need for an exorcism?)

St George Chapel West Front
I just realized that this Madonna with Child is really a mother with daughter! I had to negotiate the angle of the photo to include the head, toe and shoulder but this is a view that no one else would be able to see, which perhaps influenced the sculptor’s modesty. Context is everything since other than the conservationists’ up close visits every hundred years the statue is only seen from over a hundred feet down below. Again, context, why place a realistic mother and child so far up? Mary’s dangling the infant like the King of Pop.

070505.Windsor, It’s Not Bath But It Has A Lot Of Bath Stone

May 5, 2007 at 6:26 AM | Posted in Architecture, Castles, Cathedrals and churches, Mansion, roofs, Sculpture, Tabernacles, Towers | 3 Comments

BDP to the moon!

This was yesterday. See tomorrow’s post.

060218.Bathampton Down, A View to a Killing

February 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Castles, Chisel Marks, Claverton Down, doorways, Gardens & Parks, Light and Shadow, Mansion, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, Peephole Views, Preservation, Restoration, Ruins, somerset, Towers, towns, Trees, University of Bath | 9 Comments

Walked by this two days ago after I picked up a package from the mailroom. It’s surrounded by the University of Bath‘s campus but is still somewhat difficult to reach. This is more of an excuse since I’ve never posted a shot of it and it’s a five minutes walk away from my house.
Copy of 070216.18.Somset.Bath.ClavertonDown.ShamCastle.d.RichardJones1762
Born in Cornwall, Ralph Allen (1693 – June 29, 1764), transferred from a post office there at age 17 to one in Bath. Two years later in 1712, he became the Post Master of the city. He shortly reorganized the entire postal service and became very wealthy doing so. Surprisingly, however, he saved his money and refused to invest in the quarries that surrounded Bath (and that he would become famous from) until the completion of the Kennet and Avon Canal, which allowed stone to be shipped to the Thames.

Shortly, He owned nearly all of Combe Down, creating a cart rail-track that took the stones down the hill from the quarries to the canal warf in Bath’s Dolmeads section where it would be shipped out. He was also able to keep costs down by paying his workers less. This was not necessarily cruel since he, unlike most other quarry employers, employed year-round, and had John Wood the Elder build model terrace housing for them in 1729.

In addition to these organized and economical applications to selling stone, he promoted the creamy-colored stone through his own constructions, such as this Sham Castle (1767), his Palladian Mansion of Prior Park (1742) with its Palladian Bridge, and in supplying it for free for prominent public buildings such as the General Hospital (1738-1742). To introduce stone to new markets, such as lucrative London, he sold it at a discount with guarantees that he would personally cover the cost of replacing the stone if it failed. Unfortunately, it often did and London’s smoggy environment frequently caused him to empty his pockets.

He died at age 71 and is buried in a mausoleum in Claverton (down the opposite slope from Bath of the Claverton Down hill). The old rail line that went from his quarries, past his mansion, and down to his warf is now Ralph Allen Drive, as well as one of the city’s secondary schools. A statue for the Lower Assembly Rooms was also carved in his honor (not sure where the statue is since the structure was demolished), paid for by the City of Bath Corporation.
Copy of 070216.12.Somset.Bath.ClavertonDown.ShamCastle.d.RichardJones1762
The “Sham Castle” was built by Allen’s Clerk of Works Richard Jones (the same person who completed John Wood the Elder’s designs for Prior Park after the latter’s dismissal) in 1762 as an eye-catcher for Allen’s town house mansion in Bath proper. That house, which is now hemmed in with other buildings, faces this hill (it was probably designed by John Wood the Elder, although his account of its design is cryptic.) In many ways, this castle is the equivalent of the Palladian Bridge on Allen’s Prior Park Estate. It can still be seen from the city when lit up at night (although it is very very small). Jones claimed the design for the façade structure was his, but Sanderson Miller had been approached to design it seven years earlier and Jones has a record for accepting credit for designs that he merely supervised (Prior Park). The structure replaced “Antsey’s Lodge.”
Copy of 070216.06.Somset.Bath.ClavertonDown.ShamCastle.d.RichardJones1762
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Copy of 070216.03.Somset.Bath.ClavertonDown.ShamCastle.d.RichardJones1762

Tune in tomorrow for more of Ralph Allen Week at Bath Daily Photo.

070216.Tucking Mill, Never Say Never

February 16, 2007 at 12:22 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bridges, Castles, Mansion, Overcast, Pevsner, somerset, Towers, Tucking Mill | 20 Comments

Copy of 070215.33.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775
So has this ever happened to you: you get tired of working in your room and you say I need a walk. –After strolling around in circles a few times you end up 3 miles south of Bath and have no actual idea where you are since you’re in a heavily wooded area and the sun has been blocked by the perpetual overcast weather?
070215.38.Somset.Tucking Mills
No? Yes? Well, it happened to me yesterday. I was on a muddy dirt road in the middle of nowhere wilderness when all of a sudden I see a hidden tunnel, possibly abandoned,  with some pavement beneath! I’m suddenly again interested in my surroundings and decide to explore…where does the tunnel lead? Where am I now and why is there wilderness above the tunnel? Or even, how do I get down there? As I’m trying to get on that new path, I find this crazy “Gothik” castle, decked out like a supervillain headquarters with all these bizarre deck of cards’ “club” patterns on its walls–(or quatrefoils, but the plan was definately a club-shape). Either in Midford, itself, or nearby Tucking Mill, the fortress compound is complete with a deceptively-rickety old antenna capable of receiving signals from a satellite relay station. And then, as I’m staring at it, a plane seemingly takes off from nearby, but there’s no airport anywhere in this region! This had to be the lair of some James Bond nemesis—“Dr. Club,” or…(pick a better name.)
070215.28.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775Copy of 070215.35.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775
070215.39.Somset.Tucking Mills
More out of boredom than anything else, I go into secret agent mode, leave the road and jump from tree to tree for cover. I wind up coming to a “private property” sign that doesn’t clearly distinguish the private from the public footpath, so I continue. The place, in any event, looks abandoned. An old, junked railroad bridge, which may or may not according to the county belong to Wessex Water (according to an Internet search, its ownership isn’t so much in dispute as it is denied by all parties concerned), with a reservoir lake at the base. On the other thickly-wooded side, there is a series of large tanks and generator-looking devices…and uniformed workers marching around: yes, henchmen! I couldn’t photograph everything that was going on (because my camera makes an annoying chirping sound every time it’s turned on or takes a picture—still haven’t figured out how to turn that off) but as I went down the wooded hill toward the generators, a siren went off, and I had to make a fast getaway.
070215.42.Somset.Tucking Mill.Viaduct.Ownershipindoubt.Fisheries
070215.40.Somset.Tucking Mill.Viaduct.Ownershipindoubt

So here’s what it turned out to be…(but don’t be fooled, this Forysth could be in their employ…)
Midford Castle, Midford Rd. Beautifully placed in wooded grounds with a s view down to Cane Brook and Midford Brook, this is the most eccentric of the substantial villas that surround Bath. It was build for Henry Disney Roebuck, c. 1775, after a design by John Carter for “a Gothic Mansion,” published in Builder’s Magazine in 1774. It is tower-like, three-storeyed, on an ingenious trefoil plan with semicircular corners, raised on a large plinth containing the service accommodation. Each floor has a lozenge-shaped hall and three rooms giving off it with three-windowed ends. (A story, coined in 1899, said that the plan commemorates some prodigious gambling success of Henry Roebuck and represent the ace of clubs.) The two principal floors have pointed windows with ogee0hoods, the upper windows, straight hoods. To give the appearance of towers, the battlemented parapet projects upwards at in blind arches like eyebrows. The interior has charming light plasterwork, chiefly long branches with sparse leave, attributed to Thomas Stocking. The house is an early example of the unusual-shaped villas, mainly triangular and sometimes castlelated, that architects experimented with in the 1780s-90s. These include Carr’s Grimston Garth, Yorkshire (1781-6), Adam’s Walkinshaw House, Renfrewshire (1791), and Nash’s Castle House, Aberystwyth for Uvedale Price (c.1795).
“Castellated also, the early C19 gatehouse (four-centred head of the archway, quatrefoils in the spandrels) and the picturesque group of stables and tower of the former chapel. This has a tower with pinnacles (and a cupola as well). In the NE part of the grounds are the ruins of a summerhouse known as the priory. A two-storeyed circular tower with a higher circular stair-turret, embattled, with quatrefoil windows. Originally, this had a nave with an apse, with ogee-headed niches. This was presumably built at the same time as the castle as it is mentioned in Collinson’s History of Somerset, 1791. On the brow of a steep descent is a rustic hermitage, now restored. Collinson also mentions this.” —Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 288-289. Midford Castle was also apparently the estate of Charles Conolly….

070125.Wells, Confrontational Battlements

January 25, 2007 at 12:12 AM | Posted in Architecture, Castles, Chisel Marks, Light and Shadow, Peephole Views, somerset, Wells | 3 Comments


< You are SUCH a murderhole.

> Chut UP, slit!

070113.Wells, The Tragic Treasury-3

January 13, 2007 at 12:48 AM | Posted in Architecture, Castles, cemeteries - churchyards - and tombstones, Ruins, Sculpture, somerset, Supernatural, Wells | 16 Comments

Taken a long, long time ago. This is a Phillip Jackson statue group at Wells Bishop’s Palace Hall ruins.

The world is a very scary place, my dear.
It’s hurled and its twirled through outer space, I fear.
So many ways to lose your skin in it,
the number of ways to die is infinite.


The world is a very scary thing, I find.
It’s curled all my toes and it’s curling my mind.
When I was young my study was candies
but they attract tarantulas and bees.


Some people act as if there were nothing wrong,
due to the fact they haven’t heard this song.

The world is a very scary place to go
It’s whorled and it’s swirled with death like lace, you know
You may have found my views unorthodox
but now the wolf is at the door; it knocks.

–“The World is a Very Scary Place”by the Gothic Archies.

Hey, I won’t be checking this very often for a week or two but will get back to everyone after that.

061008.Warwick, Castle

October 17, 2006 at 8:43 PM | Posted in Architecture, Castles, Towers, Warwick, Warwickshire | 1 Comment

Took a trip to Warwickshire today. Will include other photos and a description later.


061008.210.Warwks.Warwick.On top of the Mound.Caesar Tower and Main Bldg

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