070618.Walcot, History of St. Swithin’s

June 18, 2007 at 12:52 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, Conservation, cumulus clouds, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 19 Comments

060924.11.Somset.Bath.Walcot St.St Swithins.d John Palmer.1777-90

The former warden of the church, Des Brown and his wife Maureen, wrote the nice historical pamphlet “Parish Church of St. Swithin: Walcot, Bath,” which is available for free if you visit the church. It’s open for Sunday services at 6:30pm and for walk in visits on Wednesday. It also has a youth service at 8pm on the second Sunday of each month. The main part of the church has just been reopened and the crypt space should be ready by September.

Currently, the Parish of Walcot at St. Swithin’s is absorbing the congregation of St. Andrew’s.

History of the St. Swithin’s, Walcot (from the Brown pamphlet)–07013.17.SO.Bath07013.18.SO.Bath

1. Possibly a site of worship since the Roman times since Walcot and not Bath was the centre of the Roman settlement (Bath was the site of the hot springs and temples only)
2. The first St. Swithin’s Church was constructed on this site in 971, one of fifty churches around England dedicated to the Bishop of Winchester (852-862). The foundations for this church are still present in the crypt. It was very small (16 x 21 feet.)
3. Second church is constructed at some point during the medieval era while Walcot is still a hamlet far outside Bath’s city walls, but is included in the city when the boundary is extended in 1590.
4. 1739 Medieval church damaged during gales and a new church, designed by Churchwarden Robert Smith, was built in 1742. Smith was chosen after designed by John Wood the Elder were rejected! The foundations of this church are also visible in the crypt and the original size is marked by the inner columns. Nave was 40 x 30 feet and chancel was 14 by 20 feet.

5. Future City Architect and City Surveyor (and parishioner) John Palmer demolished the thirty-year-old church for a larger structure, utilizing the former structure’s foundation for the interior column supports. The new church was consecrated in 1777. Built to the same length as the Smith church but wider.

6. It was extended eastward (where it needed to shore up a steep slope) in 1788.
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7. A spire was added in 1790.

8. It was THE parish church of Georgian Bath, and the only remaining one of the city.061002.101.Somset.Bath.St Swithins.d John Palmer.1777-90
9. During the nineteenth century, the parish was one of the largest parishes in the country, so it was broken up with the construction of three new parish churches: Holy Trinity (demolished in 1955(?) parish moved), St. Stephen’s (Lansdown Hill), and St. Saviour’s (Larkhall, yet to be posted).
10. An oriel window was inserted into the east end in 1841.
11. East end pews were removed for choir stalls (removed in 1985) in 1871 under the influence of the Evangelical Revival.
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12. A landslide destroyed 175 horses opposite the church in 1881 (Bath is a very hilly place and has the most landslides in the country), thus creating Hedgemead Park. The damaged church was strengthened by tie-bars, and the galleries were cut back from the columns and new supports inserted (except where the organ was. See below.)
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13. 1942: During the Blitz, the east window was shattered by bombing and a new window replaced it in 1958 (the new window is favored over the old).07013.27.SO.Bath
14. 1951 Communion table introduced
15. 2006-2007 a major refurbishment re-ordered the church interior and the crypt.

Notable parish Members

Rev. George Austen, (Jane Austen’s father)
Fanny Burney, novelist
Comte d’Arblay (Fanny’s husband)
William Wilberforce
John Palmer, City Architect and City Surveyor
Sir Edward Berry (fought with Nelson at Trafalgar)

070617.Walcot, St. Swithin’s Pevsner Architectural Church Chat

June 17, 2007 at 12:09 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, Columns, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, Pevsner, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 12 Comments

061002.105.Somset.BathSt Swithins.d John Palmer.1777-9007013.23.SO.Bath
Designed by Jelly and Palmer and built between 1777-1780, St. Swithin’s is the city’s only classical parish church, “extended east to its present six-bay size by two further bays in 1788. The central square west tower, circular drum with arched openings, and octagonal spire (dismantled and rebuilt in the early 1990s) were finished by 1790. All round the exterior are giant Roman Ionic pilasters, unusual for an C18 church (cf. All Saints, Oxford, but this has a prominent attic above the order). Each bay has two tiers of windows, segment-headed and round-headed, and a string course at gallery level. The west doorway is in the base of the tower, but the access is managed in a rather feeble way, with shapeless lobbies either side that cut across the lower parts of the giant pilasters, giving access to the galleries.”
On either side of the nave are three giant Ionic columns. The galleries were cut back following structural damaged during a landslide. “W. J. Willcox added a shallow sanctuary corbelled out on the Walcot Street elevation in 1891.”
“Notables buried here include the painter William Hoare d.1792, Bath poet and editor the New Bath Guide, Christopher Anstey d.1805, and Jane Austen’s father the Rev. George Austen d.1805. George Austen, one time curate of the parish, and William Wilberforce were both married in the church. ”
–Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 227-228.

(Below: West End, Rt: East and West End during the Victorian Era)

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061002.111.Somset.Bath..d John Palmer.1777-90

070616.Walcot, APRIL 1754: Rev’d Geo. Austen

June 16, 2007 at 9:54 PM | Posted in Bath, Jane Austen, somerset, Walcot | 8 Comments

Here’s a copy of Jane Austen’s parent’s marriage certificate (blurry due to camera difficulties). Her father preached at St. Swithin’s and was eventually buried in the crypt (now becoming a Sunday School centre).
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061029.074.Somset.Bath.25 Gay St.Jane Austen Centre
061029.044.Somset.Bath.25 Gay St.Jane Austen Centre
061029.073.Somset.Bath.25 Gay St.Jane Austen Centre
061029.075.Somset.Bath.25 Gay St.Jane Austen Centre.Original Plan for Bathwick

These last four photos are from the Jane Austen Centre on Gay Street, Bath (between Queen’s Square and the King’s Circus). The final image is of particular interest for including the intended plan of Bathwick. The salmon-shaded areas are more or less what was built by 1793 when all construction halted around the city brought about by the crash of Bath banks due to the Napoleonic disruption between England and the continent.

070614.Walcot, St. Andrew’s Pevsner Architectural Church Chat

June 14, 2007 at 8:53 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, Pevsner, roofs, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 1 Comment

070610.38.SO.Bath
St Andrews from BLITZED! Bath At War Designed by Hugh D. Roberts, 1961-1964, “simple, dignified with a square side tower open at the top. The chancel has abstract stained-glass panels. THe exterior reuses rubble from old St Andrew, which once occupied the adjacent large, forlorn green triangular space to the south,” which had been designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic Revival style, 1869-1873 with an added 220-foot-spire of 1878 (the tallest in Bath!), but it was bombed in 1942 and demolished in the early 1960s. The short long building next to it is St. Andrew’s School, designed by Nealon Tanner Partnership in 1991, which “presents to the road a heavy, protective rubble base pierced by porthole windows. A contrasting, colourful steel-frame structure supports the roof, pieced by playful metal vents.”

–Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 241.
St Andrews from BLITZED! Bath At War Below: The old church’s extreme height prominently interrupted the renowned sweep of the Royal Crescent, influencing the decision to demolish it in the 1960s. Nickolaus Pevsner wrote in his 1958 guide to the region descried the ruined church with “big…tower with broach spire…the rest happily bombed. The tower is now also coming down — a blessing; for it was unacceptable even from the picturesque mixer’s point of view.” (Figures 19 and 20 were photographed from Bath’s Victoria Museum’s “Blitzed! Bath at War” Exhibit, text copyright by David McLaughlin)
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I found the two photos above in the book ‘Bath At War,’ and they originally came from the Bath Reference Library. They show the old St. Andrew’s after the 1942 bombing.

070512. 7/46, Thirty-six Views of Bath Abbey. My tribute to Hokusai’s Fugaku Sanju Rokkei

May 12, 2007 at 4:21 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Foggy & Misty, Fugaku Sanju Rokkei, Hokusai, Overcast, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 10 Comments

See the series so far!

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Koshu Kajikazawa
View of Bath Abbey and Bath looking south from St Stephen’s Church tower in Walcot compared with Hokusai’s Koshu Kajikazawa. The hill covered in the background fog is Lyncombe Hill and Beechen Cliff.

The little white dormers and chimney caps resemble the foamy waves but perhaps this is not the best match. Should I have gotten someone to stand on those trees and fish, or erect a electric/telephone pole and cast out lines down to the city?

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.

070510.Walcot, Congested with Calcium Sulphate? Aisle Five.

May 10, 2007 at 8:38 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Peephole Views, Sculpture, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 9 Comments

BDP to the Moon!

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This windswept face faces the wet and windy southwest side but it is in better condition than most. Eyes, nostrils and mouth all clogged with calcium sulphate, while the rest of this Victorian grotesque has been jos cleaned. It’s high, high up (30 meters or so up on the scaffold’s eleventh floor) of the James Wilson-designed Grade II* St Stephen’s Church overlooking all of Bath from Lansdown Hill.

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