London streets are lined with colourful shops, clamouring for our attention. Many are of considerable age, and have survived for our enjoyment only through careful maintenance by generations of sho…
Drivers crawling along the Euston Road in the north of Central London will be familiar with the uninspiring, bland and brutal space that surrounds Euston Station. The three high-rise office blocks in particular seem to have been lifted from some mediocre midwestern city in the United States (Minneapolis? Cleveland?) and plonked down in Britain’s capital, as if outposts of a regional insurance firm or bank. Train passengers too will know the unpleasant warren of passageways and concrete steps that cluster around these blocks, leading from the station onto a dirty apron of grass, which itself appears custom-made for discarded free-sheets, beer cans and syringes.
The current Euston Station was opened by the Queen in 1968, but, like so many modern buildings, it has never really lived up to the artist’s impression.
It was not always thus. Until 1961, Euston Station was separated from the Euston Road by several smaller streets and the…
Oh, how I mourn the loss of Woolies. Pound shops and the like bear no comparison.
Researching Woolworth’s stores in Great Britain and Ireland allowed me to wallow in childhood nostalgia. I clearly remember the old counter-service Woolies – customers clamouring for the attention of the ‘girls’, or testing the gigantic red scales that always stood in the entrance.
In fact, as a very small person, I discovered the joys of pop music in my local Woolworth’s, jumping about with excitement to The Beatles’ She Loves You. Only years later did I realise that it must have been the ‘Embassy’ cover version, recorded especially for Woolworth’s by an invented group, ‘The Typhoons’.
Woolies was a treasure trove: the source of our Christmas fairy, sweets, books, much-loved toys, detested Ladybird ‘Liberty’ bodices and, eventually, my first…
Located between the chambers of the Queen and the King on the lower level of the château de Fontainebleau is one of Marie-Antoinette’s private boudoirs commissioned by Louis XVI…
It might have been dismal to live in 17th century London, unless you were part of the elite, but all I can think is how much more pleasing is the architecture than today.
A guest post by LH Member Hannah Renier.
Near the Barbican, where the road splits around St Alban’s Church tower, you’ll find Wood Street Police Station. It’s large, historic, and about to undergo a partial rebuild. About twenty of us took the tour on the Saturday of Open House Weekend.
We heard about the origins of the City Police as a citizen force from 1285, the struggle to maintain its independence as a City institution, the years when every applicant for the job had to be six feet one in stockinged feet, and the unbroken tradition of separation from royal influence. To this day, there’s no crown on the cap badge. However there have been abundant crises and changes in 730 years, and at Wood Street a small museum holds a fascinating collection of uniforms, old photographs, weapons, records made long before Data Protection, and memorabilia from famous crimes like…
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The National Buildings Record was born in the Blitz; hurriedly created in early 1941 to photograph and document the historic fabric of England before it was lost forever. The Record was a mixture of existing collections gathered together and photographs taken during the war by staff and volunteers. Together they captured both buildings at risk of destruction and the surviving architectural details of devastated buildings before they were demolished.
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Originally posted on Theory Of Irony
More than 1600 years before all the New York City skyscrapers, the matt-haired and rag-draped farmers of northern France built a simple wooden church – which, burned down. The good people, faithful and diligent though they were, replaced it with another, which burned down, and another, which burned down, and yet another – which also, burned down. The year now 1144, they rebuilt with stone, working on a Romanesque design, with towers of such height and sculptures of such beauty as had never, on completion in 1164, been seen before. It too, largely burned down, but this time the towers, the front façade and the crypt survived. So, starting on these foundations in 1194, the locals rebuilt again using a new Gothic style of architecture. To this end an army of illiterate peasants descended from all over France, joined by the equally illiterate nobility and they volunteered for work crews en-masse. Stories exist of the whole lot hitching themselves up to carts like farm animals in order to haul supplies and stones from a distant quarry. With a spirit and humility lacking translation, they put up a new Cathedral in near-record time and it was basically completed by 1220.
The various fields of science, often unfairly cast as the bane of religion, saw advancements which now allowed for better Church construction. Architects started with soaring, pointed arches where low, semi-circular ones had in the past supported the laborious weight of stone. To these arches, the architects slapped on a system of “flying buttresses,” sort of external supports which distributed horizontal loads away from the sides and downward to the ground. Builders, consequently blessed with higher and thinner walls, questioned, “What could be done with all the new wall space?” They were answered with stained glass windows, which conveyed…
The architect John Soane purchased Pitzhanger Manor from his own mentor George Dance the Younger as a country house for his family. He bashed down most of it and built a new one more to his liking. It’s a wonderful building which I love visiting. It has recently closed for major Lottery Grant refurbishment and will remain so until 2018. Except for tomorrow, when it will open to the public for the last time and when we will be allowed to access areas where we’re not normally allowed. So don’t miss the opportunity.
Soane was known to enjoy walking from his town house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields (today’s Sir John Soane Museum) to Pitzhanger, some 8 miles, I reckon. Tomorrow I plan to re-enact that, starting at about 10am. If you fancy joining me, please send me an email asap. We’ll stop at the Churchill Arms in Kensington Church…
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I have a particular interest in Sir Christopher Wren as his great-granddaughter, Theodosia, married into my mother’s side of the family. While I have inherited a passion for architecture, the same cannot be said of mathematics and physics!
Sir Christopher Michael Wren PRS (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. He was accorded responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710.
The principal creative responsibility for a number of the churches is now more commonly attributed to others in his office, especially Nicholas Hawksmoor. Other notable buildings by Wren include the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the south front of Hampton Court Palace. The Wren Building, the main building at the College of William and Mary, is attributed to Wren. It is the oldest academic building in continuous use in the United States.
Educated in Latin and Aristotelian physics at the University of Oxford, Wren was a notable anatomist, astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist, as well as an…
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Re-blogged from ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly.
The city of Nice in southern France has long attracted holiday makers from the north. The construction of the Promenade des Anglais in 1820 suggests that the town council was actively targeting British tourists who, if they had enough money, would certainly want to avoid the cold winter at home. But Nice’s lovely beach and attractive weather did not seem to be enough. In the 1870s Nice’s Council decided to examine Brighton Palace and London’s Crystal Palace, to create a pier and casino that would be appealing in Belle Epoque France. It was to have a casino, cafes, restaurants, shops, theatre and a great space for promenading. The location was perfect – Place Masséna where Nice is closest to the sand and water. And so was the timing – compare this plan with the Victoria Pier in South Blackpool that opened at the same time. A suspicious fire broke out just days before the Nice pier was due to be opened to the public in April 1883. But finally, years after the project was first mooted, the casino (opened 1884) and pier (opened 1891) were finished. Every thing was top notch for the complex facing Place Massena: the music, operettas, vaudeville and orchestras, all a huge success with visitors. The casino was even extended to the rear with a hall containing a much-loved winter garden, totally covered in a huge glass roof… Read more: ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly.