Monday, November 23, 2009

Beautiful Laser Images of Gothic Structures are Works of Art Themselves

A small team of experts at the Glasgow School of Art have have reach a whole new level of sophistication with their innovatine and super-precise laser image modeling techniques, which are millions of times more detailed and accurate than even the best photographs or films. In fact, the images are precise down to a fraction of a millimeter.

PHOTO CREDITS: The New York Times.

Not only are the images of incredible value in terms of documentation and potential restoration, but one look at the images themselves reveals some very unique and awe-inspiring designs. Using their advanced technology, the experts can now imagine what objects may have looked like long ago. With the ability to simulate the effects of climate change, urban encroachment or other natural or man-made disasters, they also have a way to project what a site may look like in the future as well.

After scanning a decaying iron bridge in Dundee, the team eventually took on additional projects, at sites like Stirling Castle and Rosslyn Chapel, the 15th-century Gothic fancy to which The Da Vinci Code has brought a great deal of attention. According to a NYT article:
The basic principle behind the laser technology is simple: A box, with a laser inside, sits on a tripod; as the box slowly rotates 360 degrees, the laser, moving up and down, bounces its beam off whatever is solid in front of it. In so doing, it registers some 50,000 points in space every second. Traditional surveyors might produce a couple of hundred measurements a day, prone to subjectivity and human error. Lasers collect millions of measurements per hour. A scanner can even identify certain materials, determining whether something is, say, made of glass or stone.
The benefits of storing and distributing state-of-the-art views of the world’s most precious cultural and historic sites at a relatively low cost are plain. Canadian-born Douglas Pritchard is the wizard behind the Digital Design Studio at the art school, heading the Scottish laser expedition with David Mitchell, director of Historic Scotland’s Technical Conservation Group. Check out the complete NYT article HERE.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Henry VIII's Newly Rebuilt Love Nest now Available

A property where Henry VIII stayed with his second wife Anne Boleyn has recently gone on the market after was rescued from a state of near collapse.The red brick Tudor gatehouse on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent is all that remains of Shurland Hall, the Tudor palace owned by a courtier of the King, Thomas Cheyney. Built between 1510 and 1518, it stands on the site of a previous 13th century castle.

The Hall had been described as a "stately residence" and "a manor comparable to that of any gentleman in Kent." It had a private chapel, stables, mews, kennels, offices, gardens and a well house amongst other things. Shurland Hall had been neglected for many years and was in a ruinous state although it now has been finally refurbished by the Spitalfields Trust and put up for sale for £2m.


"It is an amazing, unique site which has been occupied since pre-Roman times," said company spokesman Oliver Leigh-Wood. The gatehouse had been unoccupied since World War II and was covered in scaffolding when representatives from the Trust first saw it. The building had no walls or floors, but has been rebuilt into a five-bedroom house with the help of a £300,000 grant from English Heritage.

In the grounds are the fragments of the great hall of the palace, where Henry and Anne were entertained. According to the local history, Henry VIII and his new wife Anne Boleyn visited Shurland Hall in 1532, while traveling to France to meet Francis I. Leaving London shortly after an outbreak of the plague began, they stayed for two days while Sir William Cheyne was using the hall as his family home. For more information, visit the Sheppy website, and see a short video on the BBC website where Oliver Leigh-Wood describes the gatehouse before it was refurbished HERE.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homes of the Rubber Barons: Harvey Firestone's Harbel Manor

Luckily, Akron still has Stan Hywet Hall, but it wasn't the only great English-style home built by one of the city's rubber barons. Though not quite as large, nor as architecturally significant as Frank Seiberling's home, Harvey Firestone's Harbel Manor was still an exquisite house, loaded with many impressive design features. Firestone loved to entertain his many friends there, including Henry Ford, and he died there in his sleep on February 7th, 1938.

Firestone originally built the house in 1912, placing it on 60 acres in West Hill, which was on the outskirts of Akron at the time. Reportedly, he had to borrow the funds for both the land and the house because he was often cash-starved as a result of always re-investing his money back into his tire company. In his book, The American Country House, Clive Aslet noted that Firestone himself once reflected: "Why is it that a man, just as soon as he gets enough money, builds a house much bigger than he needs?"

On her Q&A blog, Highland Square Neighborhood Association Board Member Rosemary Reymann goes on to tell the story of Harbel Manor:

"The Harvey Firestone Mansion, Harbel Manor, was at the site of [the current] Georgetown Condominiums, with the polo field at the site of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church. You can still see the wall for Harbel Manor at the northwest corner of West Market and Twin Oaks. Torn down in 1959, the house was of the Free English Manorial style, designed by architects Harpster & Bliss, with a sensitive addition in 1916 on the north side by architects Trowbridge & Ackerman. The landscape architect was Alling S. DeForest. There is a model of the mansion in the Archives of the University of Akron, housed in the basement of the Polsky's Building."

While it's truly unfortunate that this great home could not be preserved, the loss of the building is really no surprise. Torn down during a time when such huge homes were commonly seen as money-guzzling white elephants - and before it was common to re-use such structures as offices - it's doubtful that the Akron community would have been able to support and maintain two large historic houses like Stan Hywet and Harbel Manor.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rich Colors, Exuberant Designs on Display in The Tudor Pattern Book

As a lover of beautiful books and illustrations, one of my favorite resources on the Internet is Bibliodyssey, which features a wide array of works highlighting the art and science of historical book illustration. Curated by Sidney's Paul Peacay, the site is a treasure house of beautiful and exquisite period book illustrations.

Of interest to many of our readers would be this collection of designs from a volume known as the Tudor Pattern Book, (Bodleian MS. Ashmole 1504 ) which includes a wide range of illustrations, including herbal and bestiary images, as well as other decorative motifs. The images are full of imagination, color and detail, and are a great source of inspiration for those interested in Late Medieval and Tudor design. This particular example deserves to be treasured, as the site explains:

"Pattern books were practical tools and also helped to circulate artistic traditions and ideas around the manuscript making community. Because they were working documents, passing between many different people, few medieval pattern books have survived.

Researchers have estimated that this particular book was actually created about 1520; a slightly older (twin) version is now part of the Yale Center for British Art collection, which is housed in New Haven, Connecticut. To see all of the Tudor Pattern Book designs featured in this Bibliodyssey post, you can check out the article, HERE. Paul Peacay is also on Twitter at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Now - The Steadfast Available Online

We've been planning this for a while, and now it's happening...each week, we'll be uploading a brand new chapter of The Steadfast online for you to enjoy.

Based in London in 1895, the novel follows the adventures of British architect G. Morris Moneypenny - a talented designer and a true renaissance man - as he is thrust into a new and unpredictable world of deadly anarchists, arms development and political intrigue.

Morris designs houses any fan of TLG would love...sprawling Olde English piles, inspired by the work of his elders like Richard Norman Shaw and Philip Webb, as well as contemporaries like Lutyens. In his plans, his practice and his adventures, he draws upon his creativity, his appreciation of history, and his deeply-embedded sense of propriety to win the day. The new chapters will be available HERE. Have a go...and tell your friends.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tudor Oak: Using Original Techniques to Create Inspired Reproductions

Founded in 1970 by Richard Foreman, Tudor Oak is a specialist UK manufacturer of not only fine English Oak reproduction furniture, but also makes some selected pieces in English Cherry, Walnut and Yew wood. The company's high-quality, hand finished pieces are fully distressed and colored to simulate the warmth and character of genuine antiques. Tudor Oak also offers an very comprehensive selection, with over 350 different designs available.

One of the first examples of their work which we'd like to highlight is this excellent #472 bookcase and display unit, which features 6-pane glazed top doors, 3 panelled lower doors, highly detailed hand carving, and bun feet. It's a useful and substantial piece that - while certainly echoing Tudor designs - isn't so period-specific that you couldn't use it in many different situations.

The #5 oak chair we have pictured is a very traditional Late Tudor or Jacobean design, with an ornately-carved back panel. It's solid piece that may not be for every situation, but which would certainly deserve pride-of-place in a foyer or library.

Lastly, we've included the #105 sideboard from their Parsonage Collection, which offers something a little different from their more traditional Tudor-styled furniture designs. Produced in a lighter oak, the design of this range is less ornate and much simpler, yet the general lines we see reflect an appreciation of the arts-and-crafts period, and thus are quite appropriate for Olde English style homes as well as more contemporary interiors.

Tudor Oak can either offer standard or heavy distressing of select pieces, depending on how "old" you prefer them to appear; they can also match color at an additional cost. It's also good to know that in addition to manufacturing fine furniture, Tudor Oak also undertake specialist period architectural joinery - working closely with architects, specifiers and builders to create custom designs using their traditional skills and kiln-dried timber.

To find out more about their lines and pricing, visit Tudor Oak's website HERE.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Questions About the Site of the Battle of Bosworth

Even thought the battle that initiated the Tudor dynasty took place over 500 year ago, the actual site of Bosworth Field has never been precisely located, with scholars still arguing about it. Recently, a team of respected historians and archaeologists announced that it has finally determined the real site of the battle - and the site is not exactly where everyone thought might have been.

The group's newly-established battle site is approximately two miles to the south and west of the traditionally-placed site - which is still marked by a stone memorial topped by a plaque. Checking soil samples, analysing peat deposits and carrying out searches with metal detectors, this latest team of investigators have turned to ancient documents and other clues in order to sort out the ancient riddle. Among their finds are over twenty led shot which would have been fired by the crude medival artillery of the time.

To read more about thsis tory, check out a Guardian article here - as well as this interesting article about the contemporary use of artillery in the Mail Online.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sounds Made for The Season: New York Polyphony

Come each November, I seem to undergo a slow transformation; the island music which lilts across my backyard pool and the bottles of ice-cold Corona quickly give way to ancient music and dark ales as the holiday season begins to take hold. During the winter months, an idle night will often find me seated in the dining room, listening to old madrigals or ancient drinking songs of one sort or another, trying various ales out in an effort to decide what to serve at Christmas.


I've recently come across a new (to me) ensemble, New York Polyphony, which clearly has staked a claim to accompany those efforts this season. The group came together in 2006, and their debut CD, I Sing the Birth, was released on Avie Records in 2007. That disk gained universal praise, and for good reason - the group's clear, rich and engaging a capella sound is well-suited to the works they have chosen to perform. Indeed, the ensemble, which includes Tenor Geoffrey Silver, countertenor Geoffrey Williams, baritone Scott Dispensa and bass-baritone Craig Phillips takes on a wide range of music, from medieval chant to 21st-century liturgical compositions.

The group recently finished a number of Midwest and Rocky Mountain region dates in September, and is next set to appear at the First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta on November 22 and in New York City on December 12th. New York Polyphony is also set to release a CD of Elizabethan-inspired music recorded at Manhattan's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in spring 2010.

To hear some of this great music, visit the group's website or listen on line at Lala.

Friday, November 6, 2009

FREE STUFF: Enjoy These Very Large Wallpapers

We've been determined for some time to try and offer some free items for our visitors, and here are some wallpapers we've created as a start. Sized at 1920 x 1200 pixels, they are great for large, wide-screen monitors, and can be easily re-sized to fit smaller-size screens as well. We're working on adding some standard aspect-ratio sizes like 1280 x 1024, and should have those ready soon.

Our first design features a painting titled the Embarkation at Dover, featuring Henry VIII’s English fleet setting sail from Dover en route to the Field of the Cloth of Gold on 31 May, 1520. This painting was created about 25 years later, and one of the ships is probably supposed to represent the Mary Rose, though it did not make that particular trip.

The second design features Rembrandt's well-known depiction of The Night Watch, completed in 1642. The painting may be more properly titled The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch. It is on prominent display in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and is its most famous painting.

The last design features this year's set of Royal Mail stamps, featuring well-known portraits of the Tudor Royal Family.

To download, simply click on the images above, and in most browsers, they will open in a new window or tab. Right-click to "Save As", then go to the folder where you saved them and Right-Click again and select "Set as Desktop Wallpaper." Enjoy all of these, compliments of TLG!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Guy Fawkes Night

For 400 years, bonfires have burned across England on November 5th to celebrate the failure of the famous "Gunpowder Plot" in 1605. On the very night that the plot was foiled, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night and is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hunters & Gatherers: Found Objects

One of the funnest aspects of appreciating the Ancient Styles is searching for and finding various objects which can be incorporated into a new creation or some room design. I'm not averse to pulling over to the curb when someone sets out an unwanted treasure on trash pickup day, and I'll always stop in at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army store to see what the truck has brought in. Fortunately, most of what I'm looking for is clearly out-of-fashion, and unless it's an antique of some obvious value, the object is usually left sitting on the shelves for me to claim.

This Renaissance-style candle sconce (left) is a great example of just such an item; it's ornate strap work and flourishes modeled in the very best heavy plastic that you could find in 1963, when it was manufactured by Homco. Though I know most would be totally dismissive of anything plastic, this sconce is actually quite well-done; the original finish certainly does not look like plastic, and at $1.50, it was a nice fit for my current budget. My only regret is that I could not find a pair.

The second example I've included here today wasn't really found by me, but obtained as a gift from my best friend, who was a former city councilman. Back in the 1990's a local redevelopment project required a partial demolition of the huge M. O'Neil Co. department store on Akron's Main Street. Though most of the building was thankfully preserved and renovated, the back portion was taken down, and my friend claimed a few of these cast concrete parts from the Italian-renaissance balustrades that graced some of the upper office windows. About 12" long, I once thought to make some type of lamp or candle-base from it, but for now, it remains an interesting and sentimental relic.

If you have any interesting found objects of your own, send us a photo - we'd love to see them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

OLD BOOKS: Sydney Jones' 64-Page Treatise on How to Draw Houses

I have always been a huge fan of good architectural photography, whether it's Charles Latham's classic house images from Country Life or sharp new work from photographers like Andy Marshall at Nevertheless, there is something marvelously evocative about superb architectural drawings as well, and I have always been a big admirer of the work of Sydney R. Jones, who's illustrations for books such as P.H. Ditchfield's The Manor Houses of England as well as many other classics, like Old Houses in Holland, The Village Homes of England, and Thames Triumphant resonate so perfectly within these old volumes.

As a result, I was thrilled to add this tiny volume of just 64 pages to my book collection - How to Draw Houses, which was written and illustrated by Jones and published by The Studio in 1946.

Brief and appropriately illustrated by the author, the little book touches on the proper pencils and papers to use, as well as subjects such as proportion, perspective, light and shade, construction details, composition, textures and even thoughts about the illustration of interiors. Jones explains his overall purpose at the outset of the book:
"Because house and home mean so much to the majority of people, it is not surprising that boys and girls, grown-ups, and quite young children also, often, say, " I wish I could draw my house ". This is a very natural remark to make. But before the wish may end in good results, it is necessary to know how to proceed. John Ruskin once said, and with great truth, that almost anyone could learn to draw by really trying to do so. I therefore hope to show the methods of drawing houses, in order that anyone who wishes to try may succeed in drawing his or her own house, and the homes of other people too."

To see more of Jones' work, I'd suggest visiting the online Internet Archive, where a full copy of The Manor Houses of England (no longer in copyright) is available as a PDF here, as well as a number of other fine period books on architecture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Appeal to Repair Roof Over Shakespeare's Tomb Continues to Bring in Donations

The widely reported need for repairs at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon has gained much interest, and reports of new donations are continuing to come in. The main supporting beam of the chancel - the section of the church containing both the altar and Shakespeare’s burial site -needs significant repair work, after the beam’s deterioration was discovered three weeks ago by workmen on the roof.

PHOTO CREDIT: K. Wigglesworth.

On October 20th, a group of 34 American travel agents visited Shakespeare Country to hand over a $200 donation towards the repair of the church roof. The donation had been raised by the Anne Hudgins Shakespeare Class, a group of members who have been reading Shakespeare's works since the group formed in 1931. Members of the group had read in their local paper about the campaign to repair Shakespeare's Church roof and decided to raise money which they could hand over during their visit.

Paull Tickner of Paull Tickner and Associates who had organized the visit, explained, “I’ve brought these very experienced American travel agents for a three night experience of Shakespeare Country so they can discover how the area makes a perfect base for group tours with an interest in gardens, the visual and the performing arts."

Monday, October 26, 2009

SPAB Conservation experts make desperate plea to save two historic tudor-era buildings.

SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) has written to Rochdale Council earlier this month, calling for action to save both Tonge Hall and Hopwood Hall, noting that the state of Hopwood Hall was now ‘utterly deplorable’ and also warning that a hard winter could result in the complete loss of Tonge Hall. Both buildings have deteriorated sharply in recent years, with Tonge Hall suffering a devastating fire in 2007. For its part, Hopwood Hall has seen several attempts at rehabilitation fall through.

PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr user / artaddict2.

SPAB deputy secretary Matthew Slocombe explained that while the fire at Tonge Hall was clearly a tragic event, the effects have been compounded because the the building has not been adequately protected from damage since that time. The complete loss of a truly appealing, original timber frame building could soon result if protective measures are not taken very soon.

PHOTO CREDIT: Panoramio.

As for Hopwood Hall, which is in the council’s ownership, SPAB believes that action must "quickly be taken now to halt further attack and decay." The principal issue with this building is the lack of protective roof covering, which has led to catastrophic water penetration and the ensuing structural problems.

PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr user / tracetone1.

Tonge Hall is generally regarded as one of the finest examples of Tudor architecture in the country and still retains many of its original features, including carved oak beams and inglenook fireplaces. The stately Hopwood Hall also dates back to Tudor times and was the ancestral home of the Hopwood family.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Houses: Elizabethan Manor May Yet Become a Home Once Again

The Times Online recently highlighted Franks Hall, an imposing Elizabethan manor house in Kent, which was a family home for centuries before it was converted into business offices in 1980. After the last resident left, the house and outbuildings were turned into a grand office space for a publishing company. The house, in Horton Kirby, currently serves as the headquarters for an office supply firm. Today, grand rooms like the Queen’s Bedroom — reputedly once the guestroom for Elizabeth I — is a showroom for high tech fax and printing equipment.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Times Online.

In today's economy, however, it isn't easy to justify the extra expense of having such grand company headquarters. The agent, Knight Frank, believes it is likely that the next buyer of the £5.5 million estate will restore Franks Hall as a great family home. The principal house consists of 15,000sq ft of pure Elizabethan heritage, with Tudor ceiling roses, carved stone fireplaces, and elaborately wood panelled rooms.

“Decoratively, the house is in great shape,” says agent Edward Rook, of Knight-Frank. “It just needs to be updated.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Found: Digital Library Preserves Decorative Arts Books Online

We recently came across The Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture, and online image and text collection that forms a part of the University of Wisconsin's Digital Collection. We all know there are thousands of valuable architecture and design resources out there in the from of old books that hopefully will be scanned and organized in the years ahead; this particular collection is a nice example of how these books can be made available online.

PHOTO CREDITS: Univ. of Wisconsin Digital Collection.

The book we've highlighted here is titled The house decorator and painter's guide; containing a series of designs for decorating apartments, suited to the various styles of architecture - by Henry William Arrowsmith. Originally printed in London by Thomas Kelly in 1840, the 120-page book features 61 illustrations, many of which are hand-colored. The full online version of the book can be found HERE.

The Digital Library collects and creates electronic resources for study and research of the decorative arts, with a particular focus on Early America. Included are electronic texts and facsimiles, image databases, and Web resources. Made possible by the Chipstone Foundation, the project is produced at the University of Wisconsin Madison General Library System.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fribourg Keeps Medieval Heritage on Display with Urban Golf

Located between Bern and Lausanne, the Swiss city of Fribourg makes a great location for touring other parts of the country. One of the city's most unique attractions is an "Urban Golf" experience that was designed to show off its impressive medieval architecture and many other visual treats. The course's 18 "holes" are dotted around the medieval Old Town, many offering fantastic views of the Gothic cathedral, the old city walls and the Sarine river. Be forewarned though - this is more than just a light stroll – doing the full round involves crossing the town for about four hours. "It's the perfect way to discover the town," said Nicolas Zapf, Fribourg's tourism director.

PHOTO CREDIT: Panoramio.

To take in the urban golf experience, just head down to the tourism office conveniently next door to Fribourg's rail station. Pick up a city map, a special three-headed golf club and plastic ball and head out to do your 18 holes. Marked by flags on the city map, the golf holes are located at points of scenic or historical interest, so be prepared for a major array of urban distractions. The idea is to walk between each golf green and take in the atmosphere and grand architecture. The well-marked greens range from 20 to to about 100 yards from tee box to hole.

PHOTO CREDIT: webshots.

The city features a very impressive lineup of medieval architecture, with 12 churches and monasteries, 14 towers, 11 fountains, a considerable length of ancient city walls and many well-preserved Gothic-style homes overlooking the valley of the River Sarine. Especially inspiring is St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was built between 1283 and 1490. You'll also cross a number of centuries-old bridges that connect the French-speaking Switzerland to the German-speaking part. This really sounds like a fun and original way to highlight a city's architectural heritage, and might be a great thing for other cities to consider.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clive Aslet Explains: Why the Tudors Still Rock

I've always loved Clive Aslet's books about country houses - in fact, The Last Country Houses is perhaps my all-time favorite - and this recent Telegraph article about the appeal of Tudor architecture is another superb example. He points out that the Tudors simply loved architecture, having built some of Britain's most memorable homes.

ABOVE: Arreton Manor - Isle of Wight
PHOTO CREDIT: Country Life

In the article, Aslet (editor-in-chief at Country Life) provides some examples of great Tudor houses (some of which are still on the market) pointing out many of the features that keep attracting us to them, even after five centuries. To read the complete article, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cryin' Shame: Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre's Detroit Ruins

Thanks to Andy Marshall (@fotofacade on Twitter) who brought this online collection of sadly beautiful and provocative photos to our attention. There is truly something fascinating about photos of abandoned buildings; the two examples shown here are most interesting to us because they represent some examples of Tudor-Gothic revival architecture which was popular throughout the Midwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The economic upheaval we've seen over the past few decades has hit the city of Detroit particularly hard, and part of Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre's photo collection focuses on what they observed there.

ABOVE: First Unitarian Church, Detroit

As the photographers explain on their website, the photo exhibition, titled "Contemporary Ruins" is based on the following concept:
"Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.

The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some point, the volatile result of change of era and the fall of empires.This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, lead us to watch them one very last time : being dismayed, or admire, making us wondering about the permanence of things.

Photography appeared to us as a modest way to keep a little bit of this ephemeral state."

ABOVE: Luben Apartments, Detroit

It's certainly sad to see some of these fine buildings in such sorry condition; while some do not look totally beyond repair, the current state of the economy in Detroit makes it unlikely that most would be saved any time soon. Just as sad is the fact that in many of their photos, you can see useful architectural details, furniture, artifacts, and even in one case, an abandoned school library with hundreds of books rotting on the shelves. Sadly, I would be willing to bet that none of them will be salvaged or reclaimed.

At least Marchand and Meffre have been able to preserve the memory of these buildings. To see the whole collection, go HERE.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gothic PC Marries Technology with Medieval Style

Self-styled "Datamancer" - Richard "Doc" Nagy is well-known for his unique and inspirational "steampunk" contraptions, which can be seen on TV shows such as SciFi Channel's Warehouse 13, who contracted with him to have some special props made. Nagy uses a lot of creativity and ingenuity to combine modern technology with turn-of-the-century and medieval-inspired decorative designs--resulting in truly unique and useful art.


One of my personal favorites is the "Archbishop" Gothic PC, [above] a PC/LCD/Keyboard/"Mouse" combo that was built using Gothic design elements. The LCD monitor lives inside a scratch-built Gothic arch with quatrefoil designs and stained-glass doors. The PC case features the same Morisco-patterned glass, brass embellishments, a hinged lid for access to the drives and hardware, and soft, ambient red lighting. Built as a gaming computer - it's a real high-performance PC, not just a showpiece.

While this particular model is sold, Richard will be happy to build another one for you upon request. While "steampunk" inspired design might seem to be at the very edge of what we cover at TLG, the Victorian and Gothic themes used in so many of the designs are quite appropriate to Medieval and Tudor interiors. After all, there can be little doubt that the "Archbishop" PC would look better in your library than a beige box.

To see more of Nagy's work, check out his remarkable website and blog.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Favorite Halloween Costume So Far...

A friend just sent this to me, along with a number of similar "dog-costume" photos - as part of a collection titled "Why Dogs Bite People." They were all pretty hilarious, but this particular example really made me laugh out loud, because it was unique and so brilliantly done.

PHOTO CREDIT: I have no clue.

If I had a dog, I'd be tempted to have him run around the house looking like this all the time...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Found: Great Repository of Beautiful, Hand-Colored Prints

Doing a recent image search, I came across this wonderful source for antique, hand-colored prints that would look good in any traditional home. Hamburg, Germany-based le voyage en papier - marc dechow is a specialized gallery offering fine antique prints, old maps and rare books. The gallery sells only genuine prints, guaranteed to be over a hundred years old, printed at or near the date stated. Each example is completely hand colored by an expert colorist.

While the European collections were of most interest to us, the gallery's catalog cover vast subject matters and geographic locations, including the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceana, as well as subjects like costumes, fashion and orientalism. The selection is vast and impressive in quality, and any one of the many examples available would make a great gift or decoration for any home or office.

The gallery ships worldwide and prints can be ordered online from the catalog. To see what's available, go to or contact the gallery at:

le voyage en papier - marc dechow
abendrothsweg 55
20251 hamburg

phone: +49 40 420 421 4

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Original "Shakespeare in Love" Theater set to be Reborn in North of England

A British theater company has announced plans to rebuild an Elizabethan playhouse using the set from hit film "Shakespeare in Love," which won seven Oscars, including best picture. The oak-timbered stage set, which was modeled on London's 16th-century Rose Theatre, was donated to the British Shakespeare Company by Judi Dench, who won an Academy Award for playing Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 romantic comedy. The full-size replica theater was given to Dench by the filmmakers and is currently dismantled in storage.

British Shakespeare Company artistic director Robert Williamson said the actress had recently decided to donate it to the troupe for a permanent base in northern England. He added that he imagined the venue would serve as "a living history center," offering not only live performances but also a display of costumes from the film, which starred Joseph Fiennes as the playwright and Gwyneth Paltrow as his lover.

PHOTO CREDIT: The New York Times

The original Rose Theater was built in 1587 on the south bank of the Thames, featuring a popular repertoire of works including plays by William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. The British Shakespeare Company, which has been performing open-air productions of Shakespeare around the UK, is studying proposed theater locations in the northern English cities of Sheffield, Manchester and York. A charitable trust has also been created to manage the project.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Local NJ Historians Uncover Cache of Vintage Revival Home Plans by Noted Architect Karl Kemm Loven.

Well-designed, Revival-style homes built in the early-to-mid 20th century are always interesting to study, as architects from that period often sought to interpret ancient building styles and combine them with new technology and their own original ideas. In New Jersey, historians recently uncovered a cache of vintage house plans designed by noted architect Carl Kemm Loven that had been stored in a barn in the town of Apalachin, N.Y.. Nancy Atkins Peck and Xiomara C. Paredes, AIA, are members of the Glen Rock, N.J. Historical and Preservation Society, where the Loven documents are currently being studied and stored.

PHOTO CREDIT: The New York Times

Loven was a Glen Rock architect who designed homes from the 1930s through his death in 1965 that are beloved by local residents and are known for their fairytale Norman Revival style complete with turrets, dovecotes, leaded glass windows and hand-forged hardware.

As a result of her contribution, Peck was recently honored for her work by the Architects League of Northern New Jersey, a section of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ). The publicity stemming from the award, as well as a subsequent Architects League-sponsored tour of Loven homes in Bergen County, has led to the identification of dozens of Loven-designed homes in the area.

“The Architects League and AIA-NJ are extremely proud of our role in calling public attention to Loven’s work,” said Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, president of AIA-NJ and a member of the Architects League. “Loven’s architectural legacy deserves wider recognition. His ideas shaped the landscape of Bergen County and were a strong influence on residential architecture throughout the state and region.”

To read more, go HERE.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Plenty of Olde English Choices for New England House Tour Lovers

The Luxist recently had a brief roundup of some of New England's great estate tours, including Lenox, Massachusetts' Ventfort Hall, an impressive Elizabethan Revival mansion that really showcases the Gilded Age revival style.


A sister of J. Pierpont Morgan purchased the property in 1891 and hired prominent Boston architects Rotch & Tilden, to design the house (above) which also served as 'the orphanage" in the movie Cider House Rules. Another revival standout is Hammond Castle (below) in Gloucester, Massachusetts - a medieval style castle built during the 1920s. It's currently open as a museum and includes displays of medieval armor.


Having spent considerable time in Massachusetts over the past several years, I can attest to the fact that this region is home to many beautiful and well-preserved examples of Medieval and Tudor revival homes. Check out the rest of the article HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Equinox - and Thoughts About H.G. Wells

The special Sept. 21 Google home page art made me take notice, and though a futuristic writer like H.G. Wells may seem a little out of place on these pages, he remains a staple of Edwardian thought, as well as one of my favorite writers. Surprisingly, it was this photo of him (left) standing in the doorway of this nice, solid-looking English house which caught my notice, and which inspired me to take a little longer look at this writer's world.

For example, I did not know that Wells attended free lectures on socialism at Kelmscott House. I knew he was an early enthusiast of miniature wargames - I have a copy of Little Wars - and I also have the two volume set of his compact Outline of History, which I sadly admit I have not read as yet.

What really surprised me was the fact that after writing the Time Machine in 1895, Wells came to Sandgate in 1896 for the benefit of his health. Enjoying the life there, he commissioned C.F.A. Voysey to build a house in a commanding position overlooking the sea; so it follows that Wells is standing in the doorway of what clearly appears to be a Voysey house. This home (above) known as Spade House, became one of the literary centers of the world in Edwardian times. While living at Spade House, Wells wrote books such as Kipps, Tono-Bungay and Ann Veronica.

One interesting side note - it may be remembered that Voysey usually placed a signature heart motif on the door of every home he designed, but Wells reportedly did not want a heart, so the heart was replaced by a spade motif - thus the name. The house is now utilized as a nursing home.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taylor Swift an Elizabethan Lady at Madison Square Garden

Okay, so I am not a big Taylor Swift fan -- she's a nice kid, but that kind of pop music's just not my thing. That said, TLG couldn't help but notice the nice outfits she's wearing during her 52-date Fearless tour — which launched in April and wraps in October. Rolling Stone has a full review and some nice photos, including this one of Taylor decked out in some sharp Elizabethan finery.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rolling Stone Online.

As Rolling Stone reports - "for the third act, which kicks off with “Love Story,” dancers dressed in Elizabethan costumes glide across the stage while Swift, wearing a red-and-gold cloak, sings the modern-day Romeo-and-Juliet tale." Seems appropriate. The full story is HERE.