Friday, June 6, 2008

Barton on the Heath, Warwickshire

Village greens are amongst our most cherished public spaces. A village green can be the site of a cross, well, pump, seat, or bus shelter, the setting for cricket matches and informal gatherings, the summer extension of the local pub. The trees that often grow around the green provide welcome shade, shelter, and visual focus. The occasional structures that lurk amongst them can be interesting too.

Near the trees and limestone cottages of the green at Barton on the Heath is this surprising and intelligent piece of design. It’s a water fountain, donated to the village by Major and Mrs R W Bird in memory of their son, who died on 12 July 1874. No doubt it was a valued water source when it was first installed. Now it’s appreciated as a landmark, valued as a bit of visual punctuation.

The fountain is rather too small to be a building, but with its little dome and trio of columns, it is undoubtedly architectural. It finds its place here because such miniature structures have an impact beyond their size. Prominently placed, Classical in style, and simply pretty, structures like this fountain bring a bit of country house style to the village green, a touch of the palace to the people. And that means us all.


Thud said...

Attention to detail,choice of material...a beautiful piece...if god is in the details then it shows just how godless we have become.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Agreed. We're not as good at these small elegances any more.

Peter Ashley said...

I love it, particularly the sepulchral urn. And I like the iron seat. When I was a child I thought how fortuitous it was that trees decided to grow up the middle of them.

Thud said...

Damn clever those trees.