Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brighton, Sussex


Brighton cheerful

Grubbing around in Brighton back-streets looking for the work of local architect Amon Wilds, I came across this lovely terrace, designed by Wilds in the 1820s. Wilds' unusual forename gave him the idea of using the ammonite as his signature, and some of his houses have ammonite capitals, liked the ones I noticed a while back in Lewes. Here there are lots of them, in groups of four capitals at either end of the terrace and in the centre section, beneath the pediment. In each group, the architect carefully turned the end ammonites inwards, to frame the composition, as it were.

For all the artful symmetry of this small but showy facade, I also like the oddity of the semicircular bow window breaking the symmetry to the left of the centre section. Presumably it's a later addition, replacing a short row of square columns like the ones on the opposite side. But it's very Brighton – the place is full  of bow windows and the addition of another here gives the terrace a slightly raffish air which it would not have had otherwise.

The other structure, at the right-hand side of my photograph, is the imaginatively denominated Gothic House, also by Wilds and also dating to the 1820s. How did they think up these names? Perhaps Gothick House would have been more appropriate, since this is the fanciful domestic style, often dubbed Gothick, created by the Georgians: all white walls, pinnacles, false battlements, and fancy tracery, a style that that always makes me think it's made of cake icing and always makes me smile.

6 comments:

Hels said...

I love it! Re the small but showy facade, I am not sure that the semicircular bow window breaking the symmetry to the left of the centre section is an oddity. Bow windows were and are gorgeous to look at from the outside and very sensible for the home owners to live with. The front room has finer views, better natural lighting, more space and a special spot for seating and storage.

Anonymous said...

The ammonite order is a cheerful oddity.

Which direction does the facade face? Might the bow have been added to bring extra light into the room behind?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: Yes, I agree. I just meant that it was visually odd, from outside, because it interrupted the symmetry of what was otherwise a symmetrical front. You are right about all the advantages.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anon: The facade faces roughly east, I think. I'm sure bringing in extra light was the main reason for adding the bow.

Minerva Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

Enjoyed this post. I love the 'gothick' look and as you say the way it is often slightly whimsical. Brighton has some magical buildings.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you Mrs Black. Such architecture is indeed good enough to make one lie on one's back and purr.