Saturday, January 22, 2022

Rousham, Oxfordshire

A touch of the baroque, 2

My second photograph from Rousham shows a doorway in the stable block* near the house. The stable block has a central pediment under which is a tall, narrow round-headed arch; blind windows and minimal capitals abound, giving the whole facade a heavy appearance that is relieved to a certain extent by an octagonal turret capped with an ogee cupola. The smaller doorways like the one in my picture have Gibbs surrounds – alternating long and short blocks with the long ones protruding – plus heavy lintels with prominent keystones.

Gibbs surrounds can look very refined on Georgian townhouses in London or Stamford, where they will have smoothly finished blocks. Here the effect is more rustic, because of the roughness of the stone, the simple plank door, and the plain window above. That, perhaps, is not inappropriate for a service building of a great house, and other evidence of good upkeep (such as the pristine paintwork here) makes me feel sure that the estate is keeping an eye on the stonework – this place is as well looked after as the very fancy chickens and cockerels that cluck and crow in the yard. In all it’s not, I’d say, a bad sight to greet the eye as one drives under the adjacent arch to park and emerges, ticket in hand, to enjoy a masterpiece of English landscape gardening.

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* It’s ‘almost certainly by Kent’, Pevsner opines.

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