Thursday, 7 March 2013


I'm finding it hard to be creative at the moment.  I managed to wreck two pictures over the weekend when I couldn't leave well alone.  Family life - keeping an eye for two elderly and seriously ill relatives - saps all my strength.  The weather here doesn't help - what on earth happened to spring?  In an uncharitable mood I would liken the carer/cared-for relationship to be (almost) vampiric.
The whole thing, this stasis, while we wait for the enevitable, is deeply sad - depressing.  Literally.
 One of the projects on hold, on hold for far far too long, is a second novel.  (Working title: 'Somersby')  One of its aims is to champion English (if not British) Baroque architecture.  I have deep abiding love for the Baroque of these islands.  If Wren, Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, Archer etc aren't enough I've invented another.  Here is one of his designs (mine obviously).  It is for a pavillion in an English Landscape Park.  Originally it stood in a great Baroque garden.  A Baroque Garden, like all the others (and there were many) that was swept away in the craze for 'The Landscape Park'  There are very few Baroque gardens left in Britain now - I can think of one: Wrest Park.  There is another in Yorkshire the name of which escapes me.  Anyway here is my pavillion. It's meant to have a French influence.

'It was the Pavilion at Haltham further up the valley – gold and cream beneath the dark trees in the eternally silent park – that had first introduced them to the work of Somersby.  It was a piece of confectionery, fully, ripe-ly Baroque.  A piece of scenery by Bibiena perhaps, as though it had droped from the Court Theatre at Drottingholm.
            They were all eighteen on their first visit.  It was early September 1982 the final year of school, and the world, their immediate world, seemed good after a period of turmoil.  There were three of them in ‘Mildred’, Con’s car, including Michael, although he and Sophie had, for the first time, broken up.  Lady Alkborough herself showed them round, and afterwards gave them tea in the Adam Library.  It was one of the first fruits of Conrad’s reconciliation with his father; the direct result of Major Webb’s introduction to Conrad of the Shell Guides and the work of John Piper.  And there among the coquillage of the Pavilion, she, who had a vague, unfocused love of architecture, became a convert to the Baroque: Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh Archer, Gibbs, Talman and Somersby.  Charismatic, enigmatic Somersby.  The Adam Library held no pleasure for her.
            And after all of that it seemed natural to her to make Somersby the subject of her Phd.  It was a kindness, a restitution and a thank-you.
Then follows a spoof entry in 'Pevsner'

*          ‘And so to the Park.  The extensive Baroque Gardens depicted by Kiff, were swept away by Capability Brown in 1754.  Of the Garden structures by Somersby little remains, the most important survival being the Pavilion, c 1704.  This is of national importance, one of the most continentally Baroque buildings in the country of its date.  The Pavilion itself is single story with attic.  Three arcaded bays on N and S, each divided by coupled Doric columns – the columns of the centre piece on the N. side (garden side) being replaced, as it were, with herms supporting a curved pediment looking very Dietterlin-esque.  Had Somersby access to German pattern books?  Alas too little is known of Somersby to be sure.   Shorter single bay ‘ends’ plainer.  Iron stone walls with carved detail in Barnack stone, along with lively sculptural panels by Edward Pearce.  Interior of three groined bays, lavishly decorated with stucco and shells, very French, see slate and marble floor of Versailles quality.  Of the other structures by Somersby that made the gardens famous throughout the British Isles nothing remains except a pair of gargantuan gate piers.’
                                                Sir Nikolas Pevsner, ‘The Buildings of England’ Northamptonshire'
One of the characters (Con) is lucky enough to have been raised in a much older manor house (below).  I have given it an enclosed garden with gazebos.  I admit that it's a bit of William Morris type fantasy.  But why not?

 The Higher roof in the centre represents the original Medieval hall of the house.  The door is the original porch, incorporated into a Jacobean gallery. (I doubt that that sort of thing actually ocurred in that manner)  The great bay window in the middle is mainly the work of the great Victorian Goth, G E Street.  The family who live in this house have always been High Church.

Both of these drawings was done on A4 narrow feint paper - from 'refill pads'.  Nothing fancy.  I invariably pefer it when designing.

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