Friday, April 1, 2016
The Resident Wise Woman and I have a particularly strong affection for Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. Various things about it appeal to us: the town’s lovely setting (and the wild daffodils that grow in the woods near Dymock, on the way), its secondhand bookshop,* and its buildings (naturally), which display a strong link to the Picturesque movement of the 19th century, to the early-19th century Gothic revival, and to an interesting historical story of local philanthropy.
There are quite a few buildings in Ross with pointed Gothic windows, and this house is one I’ve passed scores of times.† It began life as a hotel in 1838 at a time when Ross’s picturesque setting by the River Wye was making it especially popular with visitors. The building has lost its fancy bargeboards, but retains a big pointed window, a flattened Tudoresque arch above the doorway, a row of brick chimneys (also Tudoresque), and a fine collection of patterned glazing bars.
The house makes excellent use of its corner site, the sides splaying out to follow the line of two streets that come together at a junction, and the lower part stepping its way down the hill on the right.With the protruding entrance section, the building turns the tight corner gracefully and forms a landmark at this end of the town. It makes satisfying view – but the views from the back and side, looking out across the river and fields towards Wales, must be just as satisfying.
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* I’ve warmed to Ross as a book-buying place ever since I bought, on a stall in the market house, a four-volume copy of Vasari’s Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, in very good condition, for just one pound. Quite a few delights such as Shell Guides, numerous art books, and, curiously, Czech novels, have been purchased in the excellent Ross Old Books.
† I’ve photographed it more than once too, although this photograph was taken the other day by Zoë Brooks, to whom many thanks.