Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pershore, Worcestershire

Two ways with brick

‘What can that be?’ asks the Resident Wise Woman, pointing across the square at a couple of buildings that stick out, more than somewhat, from Pershore’s Georgian townscape.
‘Something civic?’ I say.
‘Or something educational?’ she responds.
Something religious, we suppose, as we approach and discover the place to be festooned with posters issued by the Baptists. It’s actually something educational and religious: a Baptist schoolroom.

Hidden behind this building, it turns out, is Pershore’s Baptist chapel, a structure of 1839–40 by S. W. Daukes. Here in front are two newcomers in brick. To the right, the 1860s polychrome brickwork of the manse and earlier schoolroom, as jazzy and different from Pershore’s prevailing sober Georgian red brick as you could get using nominally the same material. To the left, the freer Tudor-cum-Gothic schoolroom of 1888, with shields bearing appropriate virtues to which pupils might aspire (faith, hope, charity, peace) and big windows to admit light by which the Word might be read. The architects were Ingall and Son, and they did a better job, it seems to me, than whoever designed the jazzy manse. I especially like the line of the gable and the way its pointed protrusions reflect the shape of the dripstone over the window. The lower part of the facade is perhaps a bit busy and unbalanced, but if it's busy it's also businesslike.

And if both buildings stick out rather, in this civil Georgian town, the schoolroom, at least, does it with some style. Is it so bad, after all, to proclaim your differences and to announce values such as charity and peace? ’Tis the season for it.


Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

I like both. Nice to be back in Midlands red brick country: two buildings which demonstrate that
"chaste and restrained" and "brick" are not synonymous. The manse is demonstrating the craze in the 1880s for bricks of contrasting and different colours as in "Architectural Brickwork" ed. David Jenkins (Studio Books 1990. I used to think of such things as "hideous and Victorian" but I've changed my mind, and admire the use of materials.

Stephen Barker said...

The Manse looks like it has been built with building wooden building blocks from the Nineteenth Century, giving it a certain cheerful vulgarity offsetting the classical villa design.

As an idle thought why is it so many sets of building blocks from late 19th Century up to WW1 came from Germany? I have several sets in my possession.

Robert Slack said...

I'm led to believe, and such has been my experience, that a very wise Wise Woman is a rare gem indeed. ‘Now the wisest person in all our parts was reckoned to be a certain wise woman, well known all over Exmoor by the name “Mother Melldrum.”’ (Lorna Doone, p.110). She spent her summers living by the Devil’s bridge, Tarr Steps, and her winters living in the Valley of the Rocks. Described as being ‘… quite at home with our proper modes of divination.’ It would seem such prescience lives on in these modern times. Season's Greetings to you.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Stephen: A lot of late-19th and early-20th century toys seemed to have come from Germany - partly as a result of a flourish tin-plate industry, but they did other things too. It must have been a big thing for the Germans before WW1.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Robert: Wise women are invaluable. The oen in Lorna Doone sounds a more serious creation than one of my favourites, in the Blackadder TV series ('Two things must ye know of the Wise Woman. She is a woman. And she is wise').