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Tag: Victorian

133-135 High Street, Watford (c.1830-50)

133-135 High Street, Watford (c.1830-50)

Ocean Bells café in Watford was a bit of a lifeline during the pandemic, and though I’d sat in its snug, renovated Victorian interior countless times, I’d never taken time to look at the building from across the road until this spring. The handsome but much altered building (at 133-135 High Street) has a rusticated ground floor, with shallow, giant ionic pilasters stretching to the cornice and a pair of small first floor balconies . It’s currently shared between two units, Ocean Bells and Shakeaway, a milkshake/ice-cream bar. Ocean Bells is a single café room downstairs, with a flat (I think) above. There’s also a basement it would be interesting to peek into sometime. For now, here are some more pics …

See also: 73 High Street, Watford

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Explore a 19th century court housing slum

I stumbled across this 3D explorable reconstruction of 19th century Liverpool court housing when reading up more about Victorian slums on Week 8 of our course:

Digital reconstructions can sometimes be a little clunky or superficial, though this one (developed by Domingos Studios) is particularly atmospheric in the way it combines graphics and sound. Best-viewed in full-screen (toggle from bottom). If you’ve for a VR viewer (eg Google cardboard) it works with that, too: (opens in new window)

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Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury (1850)

The other morning I caught Christ the King, Bloomsbury bathed in dramatic light. Pausing to take the photo below, I had another go at applying the skills learned on my course to the church’s exterior.

Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury

Early English Gothic revival was my first guess. Why? Firstly, age: the honey-coloured ashlar is insufficiently weathered, so it’s plainly not old enough to be a medieval gothic church. We haven’t yet reached the Victorian period on our course, so I don’t yet feel confident identifying the nuances that would place it firmly of that age, though from earlier studies of the variations of gothic architecture, Christ the King seems be Early English Gothic in style.

What makes it so? Most apparent are the narrow, plain, lancet windows with little-to-no tracery, typical of the Early English Gothic style of the late 12th and early 13th centuries (see my previous post on Wells Cathedral). Supporting the structure’s weight are a series of external buttresses, an invention from the same period. However, the south transept rose widow, uncommon in England at the time, nods to the later English Decorative style, though its design here seems a little perfunctory, another clue perhaps to this being an imitation of an earlier style.

And the answer is (according to Wikipedia)…

Early English Neo-Gothic in style and cruciform in plan, the church was built by Raphael Brandon between 1850 and 1854 (with Brandon’s interior designed in 1853) for the Victorian church movement the Catholic Apostolic Church (also known as “Irvingites”). It is built of Bath stone, with a tiled roof.,_Bloomsbury

So I wasn’t too far off (though if I had to put a year on it I’d have probably said nearer 1900). The article also notes (citing the church’s entry in the Dictionary of National Biography) that:

‘… this extremely large church was criticized by a contemporary for its lack of originality of design. Recent scholars, however, have drawn attention to the combination of 13th- and 15th-century Gothic precedents in its design,’

Both points of which tie with my initial impression … so I must be learning something!

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