Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pillerton Hersey, Warwickshire

Sun and stone

It’s a plain doorway and belongs to a modest church. The one bit of ornate carving – the cluster of leaves on the terminal to the dripstone – is badly worn (the different colour of its stone suggests it is a replacement anyway). What we’re left with, framing the Victorian panelled door, is a trio of slender shafts topped with the simplest of capitals and leading the eye upwards to a matching trio of mouldings that make up the inner part of the arch. Framing this are more mouldings, then the dripstone and its terminal. The subtleties of these mouldings haven’t quite been obliterated by the attacks that wind, rain, and frost have launched on the soft surface of the stone. They’re quite deeply cut – in some places undercut – to make the best of the sunlight on this south-facing wall and produce a pattern of light and shade. This pattern varies with the depth of the cutting and the breadth of the mouldings, some thick, some thin.

Thirteenth-century masons had a repertoire of moulding patterns to produce effects like this – Victorian antiquaries spent much time tracing the patterns of these mouldings and recording them in books as examples of the style they called Early English Gothic. But what matters is that with simple visual means they could create a unified look that wonderfully exploited the contrasts of natural light and shade. The result could be as simple as a pair of plain shafts on either side of a window, or as complex as the deep mouldings achieve in some greater churches and monasteries. At Pillerton Hersey we are somewhere between these two extremes, but with enough ridge and furrow that we can enjoy the magical effects of sun on stone.


Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

This example beautifully illustrates the value of MOULDINGS in however "simple" a building. With modern technology, they could even be prefabricated in a stone-like concrete and slotted into existing spaces. One wonders why one new building after another refuses to make use of them? Our district is being afflicted by yet another 1960s-Lego box with wooden slats on the exterior guaranteed to rot - standard build, I imagine, for working-class ex-industrial places, tho' not "cheap". 18th century jobbing builders in Leicestershire made some lovely buildings from the neo-Classical pattern books. Some present builders (I hesitate to use the word "architect") seem to be aesthetically illiterate! Worse still, for the sake of peace, and not opening up a delicate political situation, I have to sit on a committee and nod and approve these things - nobody else appears to see my problem. (Sorry for the rant.)

Thud said...

Copying a template of mouldings onto a tight block of fresh stone and seeing what emerges is one of lifes real pleasures.