Saturday, July 4, 2015

Southwold, Suffolk

Unity in diversity

There’s a long tradition in the east of England of colour-washing houses in pastel shades. I admire this approach (and have noticed it before on a visit to Essex), finding in it a welcome contrast to the all-pervading bare stone found in my native Cotswolds, much as I like that too.* One thing that struck me in this street in Southwold is how this variety of pale colours has in fact given the row of houses visual unity. When you look at it, you don’t think ‘What a hotchpotch’ but ‘How good to see these creams, yellows, greens, and blues together, all looking of a piece’. The agreeable variations of building height, window size and chimney proportions, are all drawn together by this colour scheme. Other things unify the street, of course – the traditional pantiles on the roofs, the continuous black plinth, the almost universal sash windows. But the paint finishes on the walls do their bit too.

Another effect is that, on the green house, the colour bridges both some once-bare brick on the upper storey and a smoother plaster surface below. Not everyone likes painted brick (and some will lament that the pantiles are not accompanied by red brick walls), but not all bricks are beautiful rich reds, and the effect of the gentle ripple of the brick courses beneath a coat of pale blue or cream, as here, is rather beautiful too. Why should the beach huts of Southwold have all the colour?

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*Although I did joke in my Essex post that Cotswold walls can seem a bit beige...

1 comment:

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

You are spoilt for material in the East - you could probably blog for ever on East Anglian churches alone! Lovely colour-wash cottages I noticed at Thaxted - rather steep East Anglian roofs. I thought pink colour-wash (containing animal blood) was a Suffolk/Essex speciality, but apparently they used the same over the stone at Maynooth Castle in Ireland. On a recent trip to Norfolk I was reminded that pantiles don't come in one standard pattern - there are several types. Any idea about these, and the problems of roofing with them?