Thursday, December 18, 2014
Two ways with brick
‘What can that be?’ asks the Resident Wise Woman, pointing across the square at a couple of buildings that stick out, more than somewhat, from Pershore’s Georgian townscape.
‘Something civic?’ I say.
‘Or something educational?’ she responds.
Something religious, we suppose, as we approach and discover the place to be festooned with posters issued by the Baptists. It’s actually something educational and religious: a Baptist schoolroom.
Hidden behind this building, it turns out, is Pershore’s Baptist chapel, a structure of 1839–40 by S. W. Daukes. Here in front are two newcomers in brick. To the right, the 1860s polychrome brickwork of the manse and earlier schoolroom, as jazzy and different from Pershore’s prevailing sober Georgian red brick as you could get using nominally the same material. To the left, the freer Tudor-cum-Gothic schoolroom of 1888, with shields bearing appropriate virtues to which pupils might aspire (faith, hope, charity, peace) and big windows to admit light by which the Word might be read. The architects were Ingall and Son, and they did a better job, it seems to me, than whoever designed the jazzy manse. I especially like the line of the gable and the way its pointed protrusions reflect the shape of the dripstone over the window. The lower part of the facade is perhaps a bit busy and unbalanced, but if it's busy it's also businesslike.
And if both buildings stick out rather, in this civil Georgian town, the schoolroom, at least, does it with some style. Is it so bad, after all, to proclaim your differences and to announce values such as charity and peace? ’Tis the season for it.