Saturday, September 6, 2008

Salisbury, Wiltshire

These carved letters are from a building that began life as the city’s hospital in 1767. The building was designed by John Wood the Younger, son of the great architect of Bath, in the form of a single big brick block, topped with battlements and bookended with side towers containing services such as water tanks and privies.

The inscription proclaims proudly ‘GENERAL INFIRMARY SUPPORTED BY VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION’ and by setting it in a band of stone the architect made sure it stood out from the surrounding brickwork. The incised lettering is reminiscent of the Georgian street signs that Wood would have seen on the stone-clad houses of Bath.

The infirmary’s exterior is dominated by rows of big sash windows. Plenty of fresh air was said in the 18th century to be good for the sick, and architects and doctors alike saw the generous provision of windows as essential in hospital buildings. No doubt these windows also make for light interiors in the apartments to which the building has been converted.

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