Friday, August 8, 2014
In the centre of Malmesbury, very near the medieval abbey, is a late-18th century stone house, a building of three storeys, with sash windows arranged symmetrically around a central front door. There's a very plain cornice and a pitched, stone slated roof. The windows have ashlar dressings but the rest of the masonry is rubble and was once limewashed. Apparently the building was originally a 'mill house', which I take to mean the house occupied by a miller; the building also incorporates workers' cottages at the rear.
The stand-out feature is above the door canopy: this carved stone panel, probably early-19th century, with a female mask flanked by festoons of leaves, fruit, and flowers, tied together with ribbon-like bands. I find some of the fruit and flowers difficult to identify, but there certainly seem to be oak leaves and acorns in the mix. I wonder how long this panel has been there. There seem to be iron clamps near the upper corners, securing it to the wall, so presumably it is not built into the masonry. Addition or no, it's still a pleasant, civilized decoration for an otherwise rather severe facade.