Monday, October 26, 2020

Wallingford, Berkshire*


Venetian windows, English brick

Wallingford is a town with a long and distinguished history: it was a Saxon borough, and still to a degree adheres to the ancient town plan, with some of the ramparts extant. But the overall feel of Wallingford’s central area is that of a small Georgian town, with brick houses – many now shops – around a central market place. This is one of the houses, and it shows the kind of building materials used in the town in the 18th century, a combination of red and ‘blue’ bricks (the latter in a colour range between grey and purple) laid with the headers facing outwards.

This house is not huge but has pretensions. The carefully laid angled red bricks (with matching red pointing) that line the windows have some style, and I for one find the grey colour of the rest of the brickwork pleasing. There’s a generous array of Venetian windows – usually one finds them set singly, to emphasize a building’s central bay or topping a portico as they are in Wallingford’s Town Hall across the road from here. In this house, though, the builder went to town with Venetian windows, to create an effect of extra lavishness. I’ve posted a house with a similar effect in Ludlow. The pattern of glazing bars in the upper window is closer to what would originally have been there than the plate-glass on the ground floor, but the overall effect is pleasant enough.

This is just one of a number of brick houses – many now with shop fronts on the ground floor – in the centre of Wallingford. They give the place its character: small-scale, polite, and civilized. 

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* Since 1974 in Oxfordshire, but I use the old counties to conform with the volumes in the Pevsner Buildings of England series. 


Chris Partridge said...

My grandmother lived in Wallingford all her life, and never accepted the putsch by the foreigners of Oxfordshire, part of what Peter Simple in the Telegraph (her regular paper) called "the infamous Heatho-Walkerian reforms."

Philip Wilkinson said...

I much prefer the traditional counties, which i feel have knowable histories and characters – unlike constructs of that Heatho-Walkerian era such as Humberside and Avon. They are both gone, but I now quite often pass through South Gloucestershire, the northern rump of Avon, and discontented murmurings are apt to come from the driving seat on the way through. I'm pleased, though, that these days Herefordshire and Worcestershire have their old integrity restored (maybe there are minor differences, but generally they are they old counties again I think) and that we have Rutland back. But poor old Berks is one of the counties that remains seriously maimed.