Monday, December 3, 2012

Stanway, Gloucestershire

The iceman's cousin

This is a brief pendant to the previous post about a terrace in Bath and its keystones carved in the form of icemen. A correspondent pointed out that the exuberant carved decoration on the Bath terrace might well be an expression of impatience with the austere classicism of much Georgian architecture, an exercise in lightening up and putting on the frills. I think that rings true. Here is another bit of ornament in a non-classical, but equally unexpected, context.

On a recent Cotswold walk a friend and I crossed a field on a downhill stretch towards a familiar road and missed the proper footpath by a couple of hundred yards, arriving roughly where we wanted to be but by a different, unofficial route. As we did so, we passed a tiny stone building of unknown purpose. The only remarkable thing about it was this rather fine date stone, complete with a mask that is surely, if I'm right in seeing icicles in the beard, a distant modern cousin of the Bath icemen. Whoever he is, he was a pleasant surprise.


Anonymous said...

Might it not be the entrance to an underground ice house (pre-refrigerators / Frigidaires and what not… ) ?
François-Marc Chaballier

Philip Wilkinson said...

François-Marc: I think this is unlikely. It's a modern building and has two doors and the context is wrong.