Thursday, 26 November 2009

Night falls on Temple Bar 17 September 2009

*** thanks to Michael Wilkey ***

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Master's reception at the church of St. Stephen Walbrook

The reception was held on Tuesday 10 November in the Lord Mayor’s parish church of St. Stephen Walbrook : the finest Wren neo-classical church in the City of London, it is considered by some to be his finest and a forerunner for the design of St. Paul's.

Those attending were welcomed by the Master and given a very interesting talk on the church and the theological reasons for its original and current existence by the venerable Peter Delaney MBE – the priest in charge.

The church was constructed from 1672 to 1680, built of stone and rubble, at a cost of £9,412 12 shillings and 8 pence. Wren received the sum of 20 guineas for his design (at something less than 0.25% he was probably lucky that the RIBA had not yet been formed and that he had other sources of income). The circular plaster dome sits on 12 columns (with Corinthian capitals) that are set in a square. The transition from square to dome has been cleverly done.

The Henry Moore Travertine Altar donated by Lord Palumbo, weighing 8 tons was delivered into the church in 1978 through a window during a refurbishment of the interior. Though it proved to be very controversial, its existence survived appeals to several ecclesiastical courts and continues to be both used and a subject of strong opinions to this day. The candlesticks are by Hans Coper and the altar kneelers by Patrick Heron. The Victorian pews were removed in 1888. The church has a seventeenth century triple-decker pulpit.

Chad Varah (1911-2007), then Rector of St. Stephen Walbrook formed the Samaritans from this church in 1953 and the telephone that was used for the “999 service for suicides” is displayed in the church today. Tel.No.MAN(sion House) 9000.

Among those who are buried in the church are Sir John Vanburgh, Robert De Courcey Laffan who with Baron Pierre de Courbetin formed the modern Olympic movement, and John Durham, a musician of the 15th century. The members of the Company and their guests enjoyed a glass of wine and canapés after the talk and Peter Delaney joined in the discussions about the style, furniture, art and architecture of the church.

St. Stephen Walbrook is the London Internet Church .
thanks to Michael Wilkey for this post


Friday, 6 November 2009

A visit to the Palace of Westminster - 'Mother of Parliaments'

Autumn leaves were already falling around Westminster Abbey when Company members gathered to meet their host, Lord Naseby, and their guide, Adam Watrobski, for a special visit to the Palace of Westminster, commonly called the Houses of Parliament.

When built it was the largest public building in the world, and was at the cutting edge of technological development. To demonstrate this, our guide took us into several places off the tourist track. Firstly we saw inside the roof space, where we could see the cast iron roof tiles and supports. The tiles are in dire need of attention - they all have to be taken away for sandblasting and treatment before replacement. Following the fire that destroyed the original palace, the Victorians were meticulous about avoiding the use of combustible materials in the structure.

Then we were taken some hundred steps up to the great lantern that originally served as the principal ventilating element in the complex. Stone on the outside and brick on the inside, it has within its base a restraining chain, rather like that in the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. Gaunt and grimy on the inside it belies its elegant exterior. It sits on top of the grand central lobby that can often be seen on television.

Issues surrounding the conservation of worn out floor tiles, inaccessible statuary and decaying stonework were the subject of thorough coverage by our guide; only occasionally did we cross the paths of groups during the generalist tour of the premises.

The two hour visit had generated a need for sustenance (photo above of Master and Upper warden and Lady in clear need of such), and this was amply satisfied by a buffet supper at the National Liberal Club built in 1885-87 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse in conjunction with the architects responsible for the adjoining gothic confection, Whitehall Court. Moving towards the ‘Lady Violet’ (Bonham-Carter) Room we passed by the portraits of the fin de siècle grandees of Liberal England set in the context of Waterhouse’s magnificent building.

Lord and Lady Naseby had seemingly little difficulty in overcoming any problem of party affiliation in these surroundings joining with us all in a jovial end to the day. Many thanks to him and to Adam Watrobski for opening our eyes to the architectural problems associated with keeping the fabric and architectural character of this marvel of Victorian architecture in good repair.

Monday, 2 November 2009

New plaque in New Street Square

The Lord Mayor of London - The Rt Hon Alderman Ian Luder was on parade in New Street Square on Tuesday 27 October to unveil the plaque which records the success of the development in winning the Company's New City Architecture Award for 2008.

The Master - Roger France - welcomed the Lord Mayor and other guests at the ceremony and the Lord Mayor thanked all those who had been involved in the development for bringing such a vast improvement to this particular corner of the ward he represents as an Alderman. He particularly welcomed a development which had delivered not just a considerable architectural statement but also a very successful public open space served by retail outlets and catering establishments. He had been pleased to learn that those using the square during the summer months had been able to enjoy the pleasure of seeing England reagin the Ashes on the giant television screen kindly put in place by the landlords. In his comments on the desirability of good public open spaces he noted that, among the entries for the Awards had been a number of open space schemes. One of these - the south Garden at St Paul's Cathedral, had been a strong contender for the award and that this had also been pushed by a strong set of entries from the Corporation's Street Scene team.

He welcomed the involvement of developers Land securities in the scheme and drew attention to their New Change development which, he was confident, would be a contender for the award in the near future.

Seen left are the Master, Architect Rab Bennetts, the Lord Mayor, Land securites Director Jonathan Evans and the Clerk.

Pictured below are Past Masters Deputy Michael Welbank and Ian Head and Rosemary Curry in conversation with the Lord Mayor and Swordbearer and Senior Programme Officer at the Mansion House,
Lt Col Richard Martin.

Happily, the weather remained fine for the occasion and all present were grateful to Land securities for their hospitality in the splendid Marketing Suite which overlooks the new square.

Applications are currently sought for entires for the 2009 New City Architecture Award. These will be welcomed from schemes completed free of town planning conditions in the year ending 30 September 2009. Judging will take place early in the new year.