070102.Bathwick, Q: What To Focus on this New Year? A: Pigeons.

January 2, 2007 at 1:37 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bridges, Chisel Marks, people, Pigeon, Pulteney Bridge, Reflection, river, River Avon, somerset, Vaults | 4 Comments

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And like a miracle the sun came out today after weeks of rain and gloom. Early in the morning I was taking a few shots and found myself competing for spaces with this guy. I was first on several shots but he beat me to the bridge, and thus made it in my long shot of the bridge.

P.S. Of course, I had to copy his close up pigeons on the bridge shot, and after taking it and downloading it, it’s really not worth posting. But who knows what dull weeks lie ahead.

I’ve featured Pulteney Bridge on this site several times before. It was designed by the famous Robert Adam to connect Bath and Bathwick, before the latter was even built. (Bathwick and the bridge were financed by the Pulteney family.) It was constructed between 1769 adn 1774, and it was also one of the first photos I took when I arrived her 102 days ago (such a long time!).

061227.Salisbury, When the Organ Played at Twilight

December 27, 2006 at 2:53 AM | Posted in Architecture, Cathedrals and churches, Light and Shadow, Salisbury, Stained Glass, Vaults | 5 Comments

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Went to the Christmas service concert at Salisbury on the 20th….a beautiful old place.

061124.Wells, ‘Black Friday’ in the Dark

November 24, 2006 at 11:38 PM | Posted in Architecture, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Preservation, somerset, Towers, Vaults, Wells | 2 Comments

The day after Thanksgiving is referred to as “Black Friday” because everyone in the country has the day off and goes out to start the Holiday season shopping spree, and shops that had been in debt before (“in the red”) are restored to being debt-free, in the black, or something. I celebrated the day atop Wells Cathedral in the “forest.” Here are shots from the interior of the roof gallery as it is above the “quire,” exterior, and the ceiling of the “quire.”

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I got to walk accross all sorts of vaults and it was inredible for me. I’ve always wanted to be allowed into Cathedral roof spaces but given that my excitement manifested itself in taking a few too many photos while the cathedral engineer was giving the tour, I might not be allowed back into another one. (I imagine access cathedral roof access is controlled by an elite cathedral-ruling clique composed of structural engineers, bishops, deans, supposedly dead dictators, a few Bond villains, etc. who put out a secret list of people to exclude.) In terms of the photos, I used very little flash (only on three photos or so) and typically took them after others had taken the same shot…but I might have been the most ‘visible.’ Hmmm.

Sorry posts have been a bit scattered. I’ve been very busy recently and will probably be busy again soon.

(Can anyone else see the format has gone crazy…or can anyone see the pictures?)

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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.

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“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

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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.

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?

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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

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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!

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