Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shop front, Worcester

In 1881 people could be bothered with things like this. A small shop in a side street in Worcester is topped with this grandiose collection of panels, scrolls, pediment, date stone, and curvaceous lamp bracket. And in the pediment is a relief of a basket of flowers, picked out in colour. So this was a florist’s, then, in 1881, and the proprietor wanted his colourful wares to be presented to the public in a veritable temple of Flora.

I include this building not because it’s an amazing piece of design or a show-stopping example of architecture or a breathtaking bit of townscape. It’s none of these things. But it is an example of the small pleasures that can be had by looking up in the least likely of places, of the modest gifts that history gives the eye.

Shops are rather good for this. Their ground floors alter restlessly with new tenants and changes in fashion. Upstairs, things evolve more slowly, or not at all. Bits of former houses, faded painted lettering, fragments of ornament, or old window frames betraying a building with a longer life than you’d guess from looking at the shop window – these are the kinds of historical trove an upward glance can yield. So look up, and be amazed.


Peter Ashley said...

Ooh, now you're talking. But what is it in the cartouchy thing. Looks like a terracotta flowerpot of some description.

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