070208.Combe Down, “Alice is a sexy sl*t” Was Here: Modern vs. Historical Graffiti

February 8, 2007 at 12:11 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Columns, Combe Down, doorways, Gardens & Parks, Ionic Order, Mansion, Monuments and Memorials, people, Pevsner, Restoration, Ruins, somerset, University of Bath | 5 Comments

061026.033.Somset.CombeDown.Prior Park061026.063.Somset.CombeDown.Prior Park
Prior Park Mansion burned down around 1989 and was restored from 1989 to 1992. The company that rebuilt and redecorated it also cleaned off the graffiti that had been painted and carved into the walls of the classical garden buildings Grade I Listed landscapes. In so doing they had to match the patina of the old stone but were also given a lit of what had to be removed and what had to stay. Here, on the left pier an erased inscription can still be read “** F**k FOX.” The letters appear to have been painted large and are still somewhat discernable. Underneath that, however, was “D.H. 1945,” which remained. The whole structure is littered with grafitti, which I’m sure other Daily Photo sites would have found some artistic merit in. Name a public monument that hasn’t had something carved into it? What makes it historical, and therefore possible to preserve?

(Again, in the second photo above,) More than halfway up the right pier where now only the white dot-dot-dots remain was inscribed “Alice is a sexy slut.” What remains are the best efforts to match the patina of the stone after removing the line. The Managing Director of St. Blaise’s, Ian Constantinides, responsible for the restoration joked to our class yesterday that it “was air-braised out of existence into a spiritual purity that she didn’t maintain on Earth.” He joked whether this was part of the history of the bridge and determined if it had been an equally crude Georgian inscription it would have been protected. (Constantinides gave a great lecture on materials, going an hour and a half past the regular end time. Last year, he apparently talked well into the night but I guess our year wasn’t as interesting to him. Somewhat eccentric, he’s the one in the red pants and he brings millions of slides and just asks the class what they want him to lecture on. We got the run down on lime mortar repairs, stone and plasterwork. Apart form Prior Park, he worked on Windsor Castle and countless other historic buildings—a very interesting person. One classmate said he’s been featured on several television shows. )

061026.064.Somset.CombeDown.Prior Park061026.062.Somset.CombeDown.Prior Park
“Built as his villa in 1735-c.1750 for Ralph Allen. It is built of Bath stone and was meant to be Allen’s proof of the suitability of the product of his Combe Down quarry for work of the highest order. Prior Park certainly is a composition in the Grand Manner, the most ambitious and the most complete re-creation of Palladio’s villas on English soil. The architect was John Wood the Elder. But after a quarrel between him and Allen, the completion was entrusted to Allen’s clerk of works Richard Jones. The house was to consist of a corps de logis connected by galleries with two pairs of pavilions. It lies on the hillside, and its grounds extend down a green combe to the old village of Widcombe whose church is the final closing accent of the vista. Halfway down however the vista is crossed by the Palladian Bridge, a copy made in 1750 by Jones of Palladio’s famous bridge design in the Burlington-Devonshire Collection at the R.I.B.A. This was later published in Bertotti-Scamozzi’s Palladio edition. The drawing had been copied before (in 1736) at Wilton. The bridge is roofed and has two pedimented end pavilions with arched openings and an open colonnade of four Ionic columns between.” – Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1958), 114.

061026.065.Somset.CombeDown.Prior Parkba 003

The house (not featured in this post) was based on Colen Campbell’s first design for Wanstead House in Essex (labeled Wanstead I) and was a giant showcase for Bath stone. Allen had made his money by reorganizing the postal system and then investing that capital in Combe Down, Bath quarries, where the soft cream colored stone was found. The material was not favored in fashionable circles, which is why he constructed his mansion to the popular design published by Campbell, insisting that John Wood the Elder design the column diameters to 1.5x those at the actual Wanstead.

After Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the structure was purchased by Bishop Baines, who used the mansion as his humble abode. When it burned in 1836, the bishop raised funds to restore his house by purchasing another mansion, Hunt Street House on the Mendips, which had been mothballed near its completion in 1770s after the owners ran went bankrupt. Had this mansion been completed, it would have been in the top three of Georgian mansions. The bishop stripped this newly purchased abandoned house and moved its grand staircase, plasterwork, and several other architectural features to his mansion, heavily subsidizing them. It has since become a Roman Catholic college.
ba 002

Here’s the wonderful University of Bath arcade and I should mention that the Prior Park photos were taken in October 2006, and just happened to feature the “Alice is a…” that he referred to.

Advertisements

070130.Stowe, Don’t Look

January 30, 2007 at 12:03 AM | Posted in Architecture, Buckinghamshire, cumulus clouds, Gardens & Parks, Light and Shadow, Mansion, Stowe | 16 Comments

061101.295.Bucks.Stowe

Okay, one of my principal joys in life is breaking onto the roofs of buildings. The fact that I was allowed up on top of Stowe House, now a school with a new lead roof, makes this only moderately cool. My pictures from rooftops, however, are never all that good. Since I was being let up to the roof right at Sunset, I figured the same would be true here but looking directly at the sun with the shadows may have enhanced this photo while hurting my camera. I try not to digitally alter the photos I present on the DP (except my attempts at Photoshop) so the same is true here–nothing has been touched or rotated (I may want to fix it later…).

 

CIA Director Quietly Buys Nuclear-Attack Insurance

BETHESDA, MD—According to sources at the Allstate Insurance Company, CIA Director Michael Hayden purchased nuclear-attack insurance Wednesday, paying a $100,000 monthly premium for his homes in suburban Washington, Pittsburgh, and near Cheyenne Mountain, CO. “It’s a typical nuclear policy that protects the insured from damages caused by fallout—pretty straightforward, though at that monthly rate, I don’t usually sell too many of them,” said Bethesda, MD–based Allstate agent Gary Rutter, adding that Hayden paid for the first premium with a certified bank check to guarantee that the policy would take effect no later than next Monday. “After he purchased the insurance, he asked again if everything was set for Monday. I assured him it was, and then he left.” Insurance agents throughout the D.C. area reported selling 35 such policies in the last week, all to high-ranking government officials. The Onion

 

061106.Nympsfield, Woodchester Mansion Stairs to the Cellar Ceiling

November 6, 2006 at 12:24 AM | Posted in Architecture, Chisel Marks, Conservation, doorways, Gloucestershire, Mansion, Nymsfield, Ruins, Vaults | 13 Comments

Isn’t this an odd and interesting ceiling? It reminds me of Radio City Music Hall in NYC.

I remember hearing that “cellar door” word combination/sound was the voted the most beautiful in the English language.

061013.071.Glos.Nympsfield.WoodchesterMansion.Cellar Stairs
“Swallow” was voted the most beautiful word in the English language.

When told of this, Winston Churchill supposedly asked, “Which one–the bird or the gulp?” So perhaps “cellar door” too is influenced by the listener’s background with idealized versus grungy mold-ridden basements.

To me, the term sounds more like it belongs in a Gothic novel.

061103.Nympsfield, Woodchester Mansion Grand Corridor’s Halloween Doors

November 3, 2006 at 12:56 AM | Posted in Architecture, Chisel Marks, doorways, Gloucestershire, Halloween, Mansion, Nymsfield, Ruins, Vaults | 3 Comments

061013.058.Glos.Nympsfield.WoodchesterMansion.SouthWing.BilliardRm

This is the entrance to the Grand Corridor on the ground floor from the Billiard’s Room in the South Wing. The “Gothik” door was hung recently part of the Haunted House decorations. Both the estate’s structural engineer and chief architect thought it looked a bit tacky but commented that it was surprising how abandoned and creepy the house could look by actually putting up internal doors, instead of leaving it like the abandoned ruin it was!

I’ll be posting the next Hokusai print juxtaposition tomorrow.

061019.Bath, Queen’s Square Colors

October 18, 2006 at 11:51 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Gardens & Parks, Mansion, somerset | 5 Comments

061007.066.Somset.Bath.Queen’s Sq

I have plenty more photos from Woodchester but I figure I might lose the DP family connection if I don’t revisit Bath for some nice autumn colors. This is the south wing of John Wood the Elder’s Queen’s Square west townhouse development. It’s importance comes largely in its immitation of a large palacial residence. This palace-like townhouse subdivision housing development spread throughout Britain and was highly influential in Edinburough’s Newtown plan.

061007.068.Somset.Bath.Queen’s Sq

061018.Nympsfield, Woodchester Mansion Original Plans!

October 17, 2006 at 9:49 PM | Posted in Architecture, Conservation, Gloucestershire, Mansion, Nymsfield, Vaults | 3 Comments

 061013.097.Glos.Nympsfield.WoodchesterMansion.DrawingRm.Conservationists drooling over original plans

 

One of the greatest aspects of Woodchester, apart from its incomplete state and exposed vaulting is the existence of not only the architects’ original plans, sections, presentation drawings, and correspondence letters but also working diagrams that were sent to the masons to carve details! Here, our Conservation class is drooling over these as everyone makes a mad dash to grab and photograph their section of interest. Each piece of paper is protected in a plastic sheet and is typically signed and dated.

The architect in charge explained to us that the house was being constructed as the design changed. The best example is the multiple changes in the chapel, which went from two bays on plan to five bays (possibly for papal purposes) and then once the purse-strings were tightened, the chapel was reduced to three bays. The masons had been building a chapel of five bays before the budget cuts set in because they abandoned two additional huge bosses for the additional bays. These were never cleared from the site because Woodchester was never finished, and thus the eveidence survives.

Below is an early plan and section for the chapel from the late 1850s. I dotted in red the vault containing the private organ, where a line drawn by the architect leads to a note questioning whether or not it was proportionally large enough. But honestly, when is a private organ large enough?

061013.099.Glos.Nympsfield.WoodchesterMansion.DrawingRm.Original Drawings

 

 

061017.Nympsfield, Woodchester Mansion Ground Floor Billiard Room, Entrance Hall

October 17, 2006 at 9:24 PM | Posted in Architecture, Blogroll, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Gloucestershire, Mansion, Nymsfield, Ruins, Uncategorized, Vaults | 9 Comments

Woodchester Mansion Website

061013.063.Glos.Nympsfield.WoodchesterMansion.SouthWing.BilliardRm

As explained in earlier posts, this house was never compeleted. Abandoned in the 1870s, it is a remarkable surviving Victorian construction site. It remained standing because of the strength of its masonry walls. For the most part, floors were never put in and the walls rely on heavy buttresses. Here in the South Wing’s Billiard Room, one can gaze up at three sets of fireplaces and the springing stones where the ceiling vaults would have attached themselves to the walls.

The Woodstock Mansion estate had a brick manufacturer on site, as well as stone a few feet under the ground, but there was very little timber on the estate. The foundations are all stacked on solid bedrock, and the mansion was built almost entirely of materials found on the property making the mansion somewhat afordable for your average business baron.

Try as I might, I could not get all three complete fireplaces in the picture, but you can see the mantel of the ground floor and the next two floors quite well. There is a large stone arch supporting the roof timbers, and several holes in the oak and slate roof.

Apart from the brick arches taking the load off the delicately carved fireplaces, another aspect to note are the holes in the masonry for the scaffoldings (no longer there). They would normally have been sealed up with brick and then plastered over. The most interesting construction remainders are the cheap wooden boards over the top mantels (barely visible). These boards were placed over all delicate stonework during construction, so nothing was chipped before the house was turned over to the owner.

Don’t go there when it’s raining, which is pretty much every single day. But if you ignore the freezing dampness, it is well worth the trip. And I’m told they throw an incredible Halloween party for 15 pounds. They’ve added spooky doors to complete the “haunted” look of the house and each scaffolding hole is filled with a small candle, which must look amazing in the dark!

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.