070727.Walcot, Conservation Students Graduating in a Complete Restoration? No Thanks.

July 27, 2007 at 4:11 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Conservation, Corinthian Order, Light and Shadow, Restoration, somerset, Walcot | 4 Comments

I was originally to be graduating here in the Assembly Rooms, once one of Bath’s Georgian wonders but sadly destroyed in the Second World War. The rooms were rebuilt. They appear historic, but it is not actually a historic building. It is still listed, of course, and it still contains the shell of the rooms — but it’s a complete restoration. Most students graduate during the summer here and in Bath Abbey. Now that is a place to graduate in – and I want in! So I’m happily postponing graduation and trading up into the better space.
061029.041.Somset.Bath.Walcot.Assembly Rms

070624.Walcot, Georgian Garden of No. 4 King’s Circus

June 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Flowers, Gardens & Parks, Light and Shadow, Restoration, somerset, University of Bath, Walcot | 9 Comments

Was going to go down and take picture of the mayoral procession to St John’s Hospital today but because it was raining too hard, I only got halfway down the hill before deciding the rain might not be good for my camera. (I don’t have an umbrella.) So here’s a historic gardens and landscape post to christen the University of Bath’s new MSc in the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Landscape programme. I’ve retyped almost all the plaques to cut down on photos and I’ve included this rare image of a soil leveler.
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Plaque I:

“In 1985 work began on recreating a Georgian-style garden. The existing garden was mainly Victorian, with a lawn and rockery, although a classical pavilion and a fish pond had been added in the 1920s.
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No. 4 Circus was completed by autumn 1761. No illustrations or written descriptions of the original garden survive but excavations by Bath Archeological Trust, the first to be undertaken in an English town garden, revealed three garden plans pre-dating the 1920s alterations.

“There was no grass at all in the first garden here. Most of it was converted with gravel mixed with clay. Three flower beds were placed on the central axis with a large, round-ended bed across the bottom. The garden was self-contained, designed to be seen purely from the house.

“Around 1770 the paved paths were extended across the ends of the bottom bed to provide access, via a flight of steps, to the Gravel Walk, which linked the newly built Royal Crescent with Queen Square.070610.17.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn

“In 1836 a basement area was added to the back of the house and the surplus soil was spread over the garden. Above this protective clay layer, generally 18” thick, a new garden was created. For the next 150 years the garden saw little change until archaeologists removed the clay in 1986, and revealed the 18th century garden plan. The basement area was filled in and the garden restored to its layout of c. 1770.”

Plaque III:

“The archaeological excavations of 1985-6 revealed the design of the 18th century garden beneath soil spread over the area during work to the basement of the house in the 9th century. The original paths and beds were located but it was not possible to identify the species or location of the plants/ The garden has been reconstructed according to the plan of c. 1770 after alterations had been made to include the steps to Gravel Walk.

“The planting is based on a plan and list of plants prepared by Dr. John Harvey of The Garden History Society. It attempts to recreated the mood of a small town garden of the period as known from documentary sources. The trellis screen and honeysuckle pole are located in positions identified as post holes during the excavations although they are modern reconstruction. The seat is an exact copy of an 18th century original.
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“Grass lawns were not easily maintained prior to the invention of mechanical lawn mower in 1832. Rolled gravel or ‘hoggin’ was used here instead. The borders are edged in Dwarfed Box, which together with the clipped topiary of Box, Yew and Holly reflect the lingering formality of earlier garden style. In the late 18th century the plants themselves were the main interest, not as today for their mass effect, but as individual botanic curiosities, often recently introduced by travelers to the New World and Indo-China. Fragrant flowers were favoured, double flowers preferred to single forms and variegated foliage was a novelty. The walls too were used to train fruit trees and climbing plants.

“The size of this garden had prevent the use of any large trees but there are small trees, shrubs, roses, hardy perennials and bulbs, with annuals planted in the central beds each Spring. All the plants used are known to have been available in the 18th century.

“The garden was completed in 1990 and is maintained by Bath Museums Service.

“Excavation of the garden was by Bath Archaeological Trust. We gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of Bath Preservation Trust, Avon Gardens Trust, The Garden History Society and Dr. John Harvey, and the financial support of The Charles Robertson Trust, Mayor’s Honorary Guides and Bath City Council (Conservation Section)”

Contact: 

Tel: +44(0)1225 477752 Fax: +44(0)1225 444793

Georgian Garden Links: 

Georgian Gardens in Context, Garden Guides, “A Georgian Garden Reborn”by Yvonne Cuthbertson, Georgian Gardens by David C. Stewart,

070608. Bath, The Former Station Formerly Known As…Formerly Known As…

June 8, 2007 at 12:01 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Hot air balloons, Overcast, Restoration, roofs, somerset, Vaults | 4 Comments

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The twenty metre cast and wrought iron vaulted train shed of Queen Square Station (now Green Park Station), designed by the Midland Railway chief engineer J.S. Crossley and built between 1868-1869 by Andrew Handyside of Derby. Closed in 1966, it was restored by Stride Treglown Partnership and paid for by Sainsbury’s supermarket (visible in the rear) for their parking and the occasional crafts fair. It has been known as Green Station since 1951 and owned by the Bath City Council since 1974.
–Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 265-266. 251-252

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.
061021.004.Somset.Bath.LansdownRd.St. Stephen's Church070509.56.SO.Bath.Walcot.StStephens.09L
070509.57.SO.Bath.Walcot.StStephens.09L
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.

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.

070418.Bath, Shaniqua Don’t Live Here No Mo’

April 18, 2007 at 2:17 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Conservation, Crescents, Mansion, Museums, New Jersey, Preservation, Restoration, somerset | 5 Comments

Uh, title? Yeah. I didn’t write down the title of who the portrait featured and the only title I could come up with was Royal Landing. This is the first floor landing of No. 1 Royal Crescent, restored and currently run by Bath Preservation Trust. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no Shaniqua ever lived here, though I stress this statement should not be necessarily considered fact.

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Back to school today, and first thing will be a trip to Ty-Mawr for a class on Lime. Let’s see what happens.
Dated 27 Oct 1967 and retained in a small envelope by the Bath City Archives, the stair diagrams were produced during the terrace house’s restoration and conversion into a museum of its former Georgian self.

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070225.Claverton, Exit Ralph Allen, Pursued by Pyramidal Mausoleum

February 25, 2007 at 1:49 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, cemeteries - churchyards - and tombstones, Chisel Marks, Claverton, Conservation, doorways, Overcast, Restoration, somerset, Tabernacles, Towers, Trees | 11 Comments

BDP to the moon!

Copy of 070205.36.Somset.Claverton.St Mary the Virgin Parish.Churchyard.RalphAllenMausoleum
I’m not sure who designed this mausoleum for Ralph Allen and various other family members but this is where he lies. He did not have children so his estate went to distant relatives, which is why his house ended up belonging to a rich Roman Catholic cardinal and then became a Catholic school. This is in the small parish churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin in Claverton, which is below Claverton Down. Again, I don’t know why he was buried here in this town versus Combe Down or Bath proper, but true to his life, he used his death to advertise his life in stone. As you can see, the pyramid has required many tie rods over the years, the repair supports almost become a structure in themselves. (The structure was recently restored in 1965.)
Copy of 070205.39.Somset.Claverton.St Mary the Virgin Parish.Churchyard.RalphAllenMausoleum
Copy of 070205.40.Somset.Claverton.St Mary the Virgin Parish.Churchyard.RalphAllenMausoleum
Copy of 070205.38.Somset.Claverton.St Mary the Virgin Parish.Churchyard.RalphAllenMausoleum070213.30.Somset.Bath.Bath Before Beau Nash.Ralph Allen

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