Tag Archives: heritage

Steel versus Stone

Cutting edge engineering of C18th Bath Abbey VERSUS cutting edge engineering of C21st London Olympic Stadium

I recently had the good fortune to spend a weekend in the lovely city of Bath and visited the Bath Abbey with it’s explosion of fine English perpendicular architecture. It might not be as old as Canterbury but despite it’s relative youth it remains a fine example of some of the highest-tech engineering solutions for the time.

It occurred to me that the works I am photographing as part of the ongoing commission at the London Olympic Stadium Transformation project perfectly illustrates the same high tech and cutting edge engineering brought up to the minute. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the two buildings alongside each other:

THE NAVE OF THE STADIUM

Image: Robert Greshoff

THE NAVE OF BATH ABBEY

Image: Robert Greshoff

STRUCTURAL DETAIL OF COLUMNS AND ROOF SUPPORTS – LONDON STADIUM

Image: Robert Greshoff

STRUCTURAL DETAIL OF COLUMNS AND ROOF SUPPORT – BATH ABBEY

Image: Robert Greshoff

THE CEILING OF THE LONDON STADIUM

Image: Robert Greshoff

THE CEILING OF BATH ABBEY

Image: Robert Greshoff

A Night in the Museum

I recently completed a shoot at a deserted National Gallery in London after hours.

I took the rare opportunity of being able to use a tripod unmolested and looked up.

 

©Greshoff  National Gallery Ceiling at night

©Greshoff National Gallery Ceiling at night

#Getty Museum, Los Angeles – #Treasures from Church & Cloister – THE EXHIBITION

I had a welcome message this week from the #Getty including a selection of fine views of the exhibition installation in LA.  Wow! It looks like they and the #CanterburyCathedral Stained Glass team have done an exemplary job.  It is wonderful to see how the images have been used and it is gratifying to see how fantastic the exhibition as a whole and my pictures in particular look  – roll on New York!

And thanks Leigh for sending them across.

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Canterbury Cathedral, St Albans, Treasures from Church & Cloister Exhibition, Getty Museum, LA

Balconies of Quimper, Brittany, France

It’s been a while since I last posted mainly because of work and holidays getting in the way and being distracted by my Drascombe Lugger restoration project.

But I did spot these fine wrought iron balconies in Quimper,  – a city that reminded me a lot of Canterbury in a French kind of way.

BalCompLR

 

The Skinners, a City of London Livery Company

I often find myself in one or other of the various Livery Halls dotted around the City of London (Not as a guest but rather pursuing my own trade for which there is no company!).  Last week I was doing a regular annual shoot for the Architects Benevolent Society who hold their event in a different Hall each year.  This year it was the Skinners and it was one Hall I had not visited before.

For those who may not be familiar with the traditions of this land, the Livery Companies all go back a very long way, (in the case o the Skinners, they were awarded their charter by Edward the Third in 1327) and they are essentially trade associations that exist to protect and promote their particular trade.  There are 108 of them (I have only visited a small handful) and many of them are rather wealthy institutions.  Originally they had strong links to the church but nowadays these links are rather know tenuous but many still do a great deal of charitable work.  The Skinners is a case in point.  In fact the Skinners as a trade ceased to exist a couple of hundred years ago but the company is still doing very well and currently supports four schools in Kent and London, runs Sheltered Housing accommodations and make generous grants to other charities.  And then of course they have their fine building, right next door to Cannon Street station and within spitting distance to the Thames river.

An interesting aside is that in 1484 the Skinners and Merchant Taylors had a argument about who whose barge go in front during the Mayor of London river procession.  In the end the Mayor himself had to intervene and decreed that henceforth each company would take turns to be in front and when the fixed order was finally arranged they alternated between positions six and seven.  This probably gave rise to the phrase “to be at sixes and sevens”

I had a few minutes to kill last week so I made use of my time by looking at things that interested me.  (This is not meant to be a comprehensive study of the hall!)  In particular I really liked the huge chest with it’s impressively ornate locking mechanism in the lid, which was accidently closed and it took all the skills of the locksmith to get it open again and only once he had been given a photograph of the workings!  Otherwise they are all quite self-explanatory.

Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London Skinners Hall, London

More Art Deco Architecture and more Wallis, Gilbert and Partners – The Daimler Garage in Bloomsbury, London

You may think that I have a bit of a thing about Art Deco architecture – in fact I don’t but having shown the Hoover Building here recently I could not help noticing the Daimler Garage on my travels in London.  This is not quite as spectacular a project as Hoover but it is clearly from the same stable despite it’s tucked away location. It predates Hoover by one whole year (!) so certainly springs from the same creative impulse that was driving WG&P at the time.

There is not that much information about the building itself but it was built for the Daimler Hire Company to accommodate their fleet of chauffeur driven hire limousines for the rich, the idea being that you hired that car and driver together for three months at a time thereby by eliminating the hassle of having to buy the car and employing a driver. It was also a “try before you buy” scheme in as much as you got a refund if you decided to go the whole hog and buy a car.  If you have money to burn, I guess it makes sense.

The building itself is home to the McCann advertising agency and there is very little to indicate how exactly the building functioned as it is all now offices where as presumably at least some of the floors would have been garage space.

Anyway here are a few shots of it. (I didn’t do many as I was running late for my meeting and it was a very dull day!)…

1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London 1931, Art Deco, Architecture, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Daimler Garage, Bloomsbury, London

Postmans Park, City of London – A kind of heart-rending 19C twitter feed in ceramics

On my way through the city last week, I had an hour or so “spare” after shooting a bunch of bankers so decided to revisit Postmans Park, just around the corner from St Pauls.

I was commissioned to photograph this wonderful space last year but at the time was too busy photographing the park itself to concentrate on the other significant feature of the space, namely the George Watts memorial wall.  I have now rectifed that omission!

By way of a very brief overview, the park is the biggest within the City of London walls and was once the city burial ground.  (Because space was at such a premium they laid the corpses down and covered them with earth rather than actually burying them which is the reason why the park is at a higher level than the surrounding area)  It narrowly escaped being sold for development in the early 1890’s and it was rescued in part by a substantial donation from Octavia Hill (later to become the founder of the National Trust).  It was at around this time that George Watts, the celebrated painter and sculptor, along with his second wife Mary Fraser Tytler proposed to create a space to celebrate and remember the bravery of ordinary people.  His original grand ideas were quashed the the great and the good of the city and the project had to be scaled down in size, ending up as a single wall of three rows of tiles with a tiled roof.  He was still able to use his connections in the art world to help in his endeavor.  In particular he sought the support of the renowned (at the time) ceramicist William de Morgan who designed and produced the first batch of tiles.

Unfortunately Watts himself was too infirm to attend the opening ceremony and indeed he died a year later and never saw the fruition of his work.  Mary carried the torch forward though and even though plagued by problems with suppliers (what’s new there then!) installed a total,of 54 tablets before she ran our of money in 1910.  A 55th tablet was added in 2009 commemorating Leigh Pitt who died rescuing a 9 year-old boy from drowning in Thamesmead canal.

All in all they make for a very poignant read and in their brevity they really are a kind of twitter in ceramics.

I recommend a visit if you fancy some downtime when next in the city.  If you can’t make it, you can always watch Jude Law in “Closer” in which the park was used as the opening and closing sequences and is pretty central to the plot as far as I recall.

The first image was commissioned and you can see the covered wall in sunlight ahead of the camera position. The others were shot last week.

(You can read a more in-depth description HERE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postman%27s_Park)

122190 Postmans Park, London EC1

Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park

Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park Postmans Park

All Saints Church, Icklingham, Suffolk

Granted, All Saints was built as a church but given that this building hasn’t been in use for over 100 years to call it a “Church”  is perhaps something of a misnomer.

I swung by Icklingham on my way back to Kent after a shoot in Suffolk a week or so ago as it was only a 3 mile detour. All Saints Church is a Churches Conservation Trust museum piece and whilst it certainly was a church it has more of a museum feel now.   It is interesting that while I wholeheartedly support the work of the CCT they are effectively creating a network of little museums across the country, preserving the structures of buildings that have lost their spirit and in a sense their way too.  However this church remains a fine example of a thatched Suffolk Church and is positioned on what once was an ancient and important trade route.

The setting of this particular building is rather plain, pretty but nothing extraordinary although the key guardian was exceptionally cheerful and friendly which did add a kind of warm glow.

Inside, the building has a slightly curious kind of double nave which is in fact a nave plus side aisle but the huge window at the end of the side-aisle kind of elevates it’s visual significance to me.  Unfortunately nearly all the stained glass is long gone that the little that remains is not in the same league as the Canterbury Cathedral glass I have been photographing for the Getty Museum recently.  So I guess the space is very much brighter than it would have been originally, no doubt the fact that it was a gloriously sunny day when I visited, added to this.

Side aisle with large winbdow

Side aisle with large window

There were a few things that caught my eye:

I liked the well chewed pews, no doubt worn down by generations of small children (pre 1900) anxious to get out and play.

132251-4-032Blog

A gnawed Pew

I was also intrigued by the curious short spiral staircase built into the wall dividing the main nave from the (single) side aisle.  This didn’t seem to go anywhere except to a small opening a few metres above the entrance which presumably was used as a pulpit, giving the priest a commanding view of his gathered flock.

The spiral staircase and pulpit

The spiral staircase and pulpit

The early 14C font had some crude but pleasing carvings around it’s perimeter and I particularly liked the faint but lovely octopus-like carving on the sarcophagus by the side door.  This door also sported a fine anchor shaped knocker.

All Saints Details

All Saints Details

The thatched roof was also interesting:

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

You can read the CCT blurb about this church here:  http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/All-Saints-Church-Icklingham-Suffolk/

And I’ll let the pictures do the talking now:

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The Nave

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Looking across the nave towards the side aisle

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Light from the side Aisle Wndow

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Those chewed pews again

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Side aisle window

Icklingham Church, Suffolk, CCT, Conservation, thatch roof

Hadlow Tower, Kent – Britain’s tallest folly now folly restored

Here is something I thought I had posted a couple of weeks ago but realised just now that it slipped through without a look in!

I visited the marvellous and recently refurbished Hadlow Tower a few days after it opened last month.  The project has been completed by the Vivat Trust with the support of English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund and sees this once derelict folly restored to beyond it’s original glory – I say beyond because whereas it was not built with any particular use in mind other than standing tall, now it has a real function and houses a pretty swanky  three bedroom house on it’s lower five levels as well as a museum on the ground floor.

The original structures were designed in 1838 by the architect George Ledwell Taylor,for a client who had benefited from a substantial legacy and so  had no need to work but did need to do something with his time.  (the best kind of client, I should think!).  Taylor was recently made redundant from the military, where he supervised a number of mundane projects and the Hadlow Tower was one of his early commissions as a private practitioner and he was obviously relishing the break from military architecture.

Enjoy

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Relevant Links:

The full Wiki article is here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadlow_Castle

The Vivat Trust is here: http://www.vivat-trust.org/properties.php?pid=121

Art Deco at it’s finest – The Hoover Building

Last weekend I had a CGI shoot in Wembley, to the west of London.  I finished at about 1600 and decided to head back home on the motorways.  The route to the notorious M25 motorway (the 8 lane car park that surrounds London) takes you past the wonderful Hoover building.  Normally when I whizz past I’ve either got to be somewhere else or want to get home but Saturday was different.  The sun was shining, it was warm for a change and I wasn’t in a hurry so I turned around (that means going to the next exit to join the London bound carriageway btw) parked up and took at look – for the first time I am slightly ashamed to say.

Hoover have long abandoned it’s flagship edifice.  Indeed when I arrived here in the mid 80’s it was a pretty derelict and unloved site.  Since then Tesco have bought it (in 1989)and for a while it was restored to it’s old colourful glory but all good things come to an end and I note that it is once again empty and available to rent with the onset of dilapidation well underway again. The rear part where the supermarket is, is still functioning. I guess although a marvellous building it simply can’t measure up to the needs of modern life,  it’s BREEAM rating is probably in minus figures!  (BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a voluntary measurement rating for green buildings)

By way of background and with courtesy of Wikipedia:

“Built for The Hoover Company, the building originally housed Hoover’s main UK manufacturing facility making vacuum cleaners, and employed up to 600 staff in the its offices and works. The original building (No. 1) was built in 1932 and contained the main offices; before it was completed plans were being put in place to add manufacturing facilities. As staff moved into their new offices foundations were being laid for a factory block to the east of the original building; this new block came to be known as Building No.3 and was complete and fully operational by February 1933. In January 1934 plans were drawn up for an additional two storey extension on top of the factory building and by May 1934 construction was well under way. Demand for Hoover vacuum cleaners continued to grow and in 1935 Wallis, Gilbert and Partners designed a new factory (Building No. 5) behind the original building. In 1938 a separate canteen and recreation centre (Building No. 7) was completed to the west of the original office.”

for more information go to:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Building

for more info about the architects Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, go to:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallis,_Gilbert_and_Partners

Sorry, being a bit lazy here! but the fun part is the pictures.  For a photographer of architecture this building offers almost limitless possibilities, was great fun to shoot and makes for a pleasant change from more contemporary modernist type structures.  But I think as a building with a effective function in the 21st Century, the jury is still out.

Hoover Building, London, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Art Deco

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