Monday, July 2, 2018

East Norton, Leicestershire

Ello, ello

‘I know you’ll like this,’ said Mr Ashley, pointing to the word ‘POLICE’ above the door. And, in spite of the rain, before you could say ‘Ello, ello,’ I was out of the car and taking photographs. I was attracted immediately by the beautifully arranged glazing bars that make a pattern of elongated hexagons, diamonds and triangles across each of the five front windows. And to the simple lettering of the sign, cut in stone. And to the peculiar stepped pediment above the door that frames the sign. Not to mention the careful detailing of the brickwork.

As I was taking all this in, the owner of this former police station, now house, emerged. She explained that she and her husband were restoring the house, and that he was busy removing generations of paint from the glazing bars. If you click on the picture and look very closely, you might be able to see that those on the bottom left window, and the left-hand casement of the top right window, have already been done. The difference is remarkable. I’ve written before about the way in which layers of paint, added over decades or even centuries, can blur the detail of friezes and other ornate details. It was the same with these glazing bars, but now it’s being put right. It’s a long job, but it must be rewarding to see the windows emerging crisp and clean.
The owner also told me that the house dates to around 1850, and that the neighbouring building was put up in the later 19th century as a court house. So it has the plainer brickwork and sash windows of the Victorian era, whereas the old police station has the ornate glazing* and fancy detailing that are much more typical of the pre-Victorian period – but with the addition of the rather heavy stepped pediment which looks to me more like a nod to the heavier style then coming in. Altogether a winning combination to come across on a rainy morning. Thank you, Mr A.

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* I associate this sort of filigree glazing with the Picturesque movement of the late-18th and early-19th centuries, when it adorned many a charming cottage. But it’s also sometimes used to give a uniform and decorative feel to more workaday cottages built by aristocrats to house their staff, and an online source attributes this police station to a 19th-century Lord Berners. A uniform glazing pattern can give a group of hoses, or a whole village, a distinctive appearance – a phenomenon I’ve noticed, for example, here.


Joe Treasure said...

I love such three-dimensional evidence of original use. I don't think I've spotted a police station before. My (often faulty) memory suggests that banks and post offices are not uncommon. Also Victorian schools with separate boys' and girls' entrances.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, there are lots of banks and schools ('boys', 'girls', 'mixed infants') especially. There are a couple of banks on this blog, which you can probably find by typing 'Leominster' and 'Northampton' into the search box.

Anonymous said...

My wife spotted this the other day as we passed.
We were in a hurry, but I will return to have a closer look.
Although in stone, this could also be referred to as a 'ghost sign'. (Gooogle it.)