Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bridgwater, Somerset

Bridgwater brick

I’m impressed by the quality of some of the houses in this Somerset town. This is an example, from maybe the best street of all, Castle Street, which Pevsner calls ‘one of the finest early Georgian streets outside London’. It contains ten well proportioned five-bay houses built of brick – lovely local brick, which became the material of choice in the town from the late-17th century onwards. The brick walls are set off with white-painted quoins and, visible in my picture, segmentally headed windows. These windows are surrounded by moulded architraves; bracketed sills are another pleasant touch.

The doorways, in particular, stand out. There are several variations – some have Doric pilasters, some Corinthian, some, like number 10 in my photograph, Ionic.* The illustrated doorway also has a Gibbs surround, that band of alternating protruding and recessed blocks that gives it special prominence and goes with the ornate keystone at the top of the arch. The Duke of Chandos, who built this street as part of a larger development also featuring many brick houses of this period, must have been pleased. It’s not known who the architect was, but Pevsner and others point to the involvement of craftsmen who worked for the Duke on his properties in London and his famous, long demolished, country house, Canons in Middlesex. The houses they produced in Bridgwater still deserve our admiration.

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* I recently posted this doorway and a couple of its neighbours using different classical orders on my Instagram page, @philipbuildings ; scroll down the Instagram page to find them.

1 comment:

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

How much more restful and appealing than the old Hoover factory in Perivale! I bet the interior is functional too: in the West Country, with its overcast climate, the large windows must be an asset. This quite apart from the purely AESTHETIC combination of pattern-book Neo-Classical features and textured brick. Now, if we can ever compare prices as some historians such as Hilaire Belloc attempted to do, I'm wondering if this house, this street were expensive to produce? If we have economy as part of the package, then as a building it is exemplary. I wonder if architects could save their clients a packet by attempting something similar now? Even for commercial buildings, perhaps - car park and wiring added, of course.