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.