Friday, April 8, 2011

Lamport, Northamptonshire


In the shadow of the great house (2)

The predominant building type in the English countryside is the cottage. As we travel around, we’re used to seeing them, clustered together in villages, occupying isolated positions at junctions or even, like the cottage my maternal grandfather lived in, set in fields full of ruminating cows. Many of the older, more picturesque ones, are vernacular cottages, built by local builders in local materials. But some cottages are designed in a more self-conscious way, with a deliberate “look”. Houses built for the workers on the great country estates, especially in the 19th century, are often like this. They might be built in brick rather than local stone, or have uniform ornamental bargeboards, or a particular kind of glazing, or the coat of arms of the lord of the manor. They stand out from the norm, and locals known instantly that they belong to such and such an estate.

Few estate cottages stand out, though, like these polychrome houses in Lamport , done in three shades of brick. They date from the 1850s, when the Victorian Gothic revival was well underway, architects like William Butterfield were dreaming up elaborate brick churches such as All Saints’ Margaret Street, London, and when the writer John Ruskin was promoting the idea of “structural polychromy” – in other words multicoloured buildings in which the colours were derived from the actual materials, rather than being merely skin-deep. Not that Butterfield or Ruskin had in mind quite the jazzy approach of this pair of estate cottages. Part of me sees them as uncomfortable aliens amongst the toffee-coloured lias stone of Northamptonshire; part of me admires their sheer nerve.

15 comments:

Blue said...

The whole of me loves 'em!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Glad you like 'em, Blue!

bazza said...

I'm a big sucker for brickwork and these are rather exciting. However I understand your discomfort; they don't easily fit into any tradition. Somehow they do manage to be very English but I'm not sure why.
Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Philip Wilkinson said...

Bazza: Interesting point about tradition. I suppose behind brickwork like this is the old fashion for spelling out messages in bricks of two colours, something I noticed at Dorchester on Thames. There are also more restrained examples of patterning - diapers and so on - in cottages in some Midland counties, notably Leicestershire. But the houses at Lamport are a big leap from these.

Reggie Darling said...

This cottage's decoration brings to mind Cockney buskers covered with buttons!

ChrisP said...

Estate cottages often make their own tradition - ask local estate agents and they will say that a particular estate's style of cottage adds local character and is much in demand.
Round our way, the Goodwood estate cottages are faced in knapped flint with galleting, which is rather classy.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Reggie: Yes! It's as if ts if the artist Peter Blake (Self Portrait With Badges) had taken up residence there.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Chris: Those Goodwood cottages are about as good as it gets.

Gawain said...

A nomination here, for the estate buildings of the Earl of Lovelace's Horsley Towers estate - pub, church, cottages, Home Farm and maybe more in addition to the House itself, gatehouse, stables and estate walling? See here

http://www.hoary.org/snaps/engl/hors.html

and elsewhere, no doubt

Gawain said...

More (much more) Horsley here (see left column)

http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/places/surrey/guildford/east_horsley/east_horsley_the_lovelace_buildings

Philip Wilkinson said...

Gawain: Stunning stuff from Horsley. Many thanks.

Wartime Housewife said...

I know this building well and if I can get Boy the Elder into the school I'm hoping for, I shall pass it every day.

Philip Wilkinson said...

WH: My fingers are crossed for you and Boy the Elder.

Anonymous said...

I live in one of these and the brickwork is even more interesting in that it contains a lozenge of the Isham Family together with the date they were built 1856

They are true to their appearance and called diamond cottages and attract a huge amount of interest from the public.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anonymous: Thank you so much. It is always good to hear from people who live in the buildings I feature on this blog.