After looking around Bourne Town Hall I popped over to Stamford and the Book Fair being held in the Assembly Room, taking the opportunity to photograph another building by Browning, the former Stamford Institute.
Sadly now disfigured with rubbish bins and cctv monitors (it deserves better!) this rather imposing building was built in 1842 by Moses Peal at the cost of £1,724. It contained reading rooms, a museum and concert hall, even a laboratory. The roof boasted a cupola that served as both observatory and camera obscura. Some of the interiors apparently survive.
The facade is more decorative than is usual with Browning's work, a reflection perhaps of the changing tastes in classical architecture in the 19th century from Greek to Roman and finally Renaissance. Perhaps also reflecting an interest in the eclectic approach of an architect like C R Cockerell, who happily, and skilfully blended various forms of classicism into a powerful and convincing whole. There are some lovely details. I'm particularly impressed not only with the skillful layering of the facade but with the treatment of the basement windows with their blunt primitivist pediments.