Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Bredon is in South Worcestershire. The low-lying apple-growing country of Evesham is not far away, but neither are the Cotswold uplands – Bredon Hill is a Cotswold outlier, and shares the limestone geology of the main Cotswold range. It’s not surprising, then, that the Reed Almshouses in Bredon combine the brick of the vale (seen in the walls round the back and the chimneys) with a Cotswold stone front to the courtyard. This stone front, with its mullioned windows, dormers, and shallow arched doorways could be on the Cotswolds – and, with those arches could date from the Tudor period, although in fact it’s a building of the 1690s.
But what’s that small freestanding building with the big brick chimney and the interesting little louvre at the top? It had me scratching my head: it doesn’t look like extra flats or houses, it’s too elaborate for a shed, and has too many windows for a dovecote. It turns out to be a laundry, built in 1871, by Bodley and Garner, no less, when they restored the almshouses. George Frederick Bodley was one of the greatest Victorian architects, known especially for fine Gothic Revival churches. He had a long working life, a lot of it in partnership with Thomas Garner. They designed churches, buildings in Oxford and Cambridge, and country houses. but clearly did not spurn smaller jobs.
I don’t know if the laundry is still used for its original function, but it’s an attractive and practical addition, a tribute to the almshouse authorities, who seem to have wanted to provide the residents with convenient facilities as well as a pleasing environment. A nice example of a small structure acting as a memorable focus – both to the building it serves and to the street as a whole.