Monday, October 22, 2007

Pugin - God's Architect and his first church

"IN THE SUMMER OF 1852 A 40-year-old man was in a secure room in Bethlem Hospital for the Insane; he recognised no one, not even his wife; his head had been shaved, and he had become what was described as “very dirty in his habits”. This was the man who, six months before, had designed the clock tower now known as Big Ben. His name was Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin."

In 1839 Pugin finished his first Church - St Marys- in Uttoxeter. Not a masterpiece and now very much altered, with the addition of aisles, a narthex and changes to the chancel in 1879. His stunning west rose window and the sedilia remain. It is not a patch on his 'gem'- St Giles in Cheadle - which he started just a year later.
By the time he was 21 Pugin had been widowed, bankrupted and shipwrecked. He had built 22 churches, 3 cathedrals, a monastery and half a dozen grand houses before the age of 30. Pugin wanted to create a fantastic medieval world of his imagination - in stark contrast to the industrial revolution which raged around him.
He died, aged 40, incarcerated in an asylum - a wild psychotic, driven mad by syphilis.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Clone Town Britain - a rebellion

Clone-town Britain faces a rebellion on the high street

The Work Foundation think-tank have discovered a growing backlash against uniform housing estates and unimaginative architecture which are destroying the unique features of our towns. In , "Distinctiveness and Cities – Beyond 'Find and Replace' Economic Development" the think tank reports that people are beginning to realise that local identity matters.

Towns which have embraced their idiosyncrasies (and Uttoxeter has some) have realised economic advantages. The report states that towns must innovate themselves using their own distinctive qualities.

"Distinctiveness becomes a conscious, explicit strategy of redevelopment."

Councillors/planners/developers - pay heed