Wednesday, July 22, 2015
As in so many streets in small Cotswold towns like Lechlade – at Thames-side town in fact on the edge of the Cotswolds not far from William Morris's Kelmscott – there's an abundance of traditional vernacular limestone architecture and a sprinkling of the 'polite' architecture of the Georgian period too. So these low, limestone buildings, with the their roofs of stone 'slates' are countrified in overall appearance but have polite Georgian-style elements too: sash windows with small panes, and one door with a semicircular fanlight with glazing bars like the spokes of a wheel. Dressed stone window surrounds add to the formal effects, in keeping with the date of 1743 that appears on the sundial.
But what of the curved bay in the middle, encroaching on the pavement and surprising the passing pedestrian? It has a triangular pediment, but this has to curve to follow the line of the wall and ends up looking a bit like a bishop's mitre, taking the language of classical architecture in an unusual direction. Pevsner calls this feature a 'gazebo bay', and it certainly enables the inhabitants to look out on to the street in different directions, as those in a gazebo might do in a garden – or the occupant of a toll house might on a turnpike road. But it doesn't really look like a gazebo or a toll house. Nor does the bowed shape have quite the raffish effect of Regency bow windows in Brighton. It's a bit of Cotswold whimsy, I think, and none the worse for that.