Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Look up in Evesham High Street and you see this extraordinary bit of late-19th century facade above a modern shop front. Four very large plate-glass windows separated by columns in cast iron, surmounted by an ornate cornice emblazoned with the building’s name – Anchor House – and a balustrade, complete with urn finials and ornate decorations with palmetto leaves and scrolls that derive from ancient originals known as acroteria. As so often with the buildings I single out for comment, we’re not in the realm of great architecture here. The columns between the big windows are almost laughably slender; the lettering of the name is rather workaday; and as for the modern shopfront, I’ll restrain myself and not comment.
And yet it’s a striking frontage. It must originally have been quite an impressive shop. Quite a few late-19th century emporia had upper showrooms with big windows, letting in lots of light and even, should the objects on sale be large, the opportunity for a display that could be seen from the street. Dealers in furniture, for example, could take advantage of that kind of display, and late-Victorian department stores (which had commonly evolved from businesses such as drapers) often had lots of glass at the front, to light the deep interior and shed the best light on the goods within. Now, alas, the panes are blank and the upper floor, presumably, is given over to storage. But Anchor House still makes its mark.
One of my readers, whose family comes from the Evesham area, notes that this building once belonged to a department store called Hamilton and Bell, which also occupied several of the adjoining buildings. This snippet of information is an example of the kind of thing that makes blogging worthwhile – I give me readers a little information and the pay me back in kind. My hunch that this could have been a department store is confirmed. I'm most grateful and have included the information here because not everyone reads the comments pages of blogs.