Monthly Archives: February 2011

Brick, wood and stone, part II (mostly wood)

When we were in York last week I visited the Merchant Venturers Hall.  It was built between 1357 and 1361, before most of the craft or trade guild halls, making it one of the largest buildings of its kind and date in Britain.  It has a massive double span roof  supported by a row of large central timber posts.

I’m not sure the spotlights add to the beams, but they certainly make it very difficult to get a close-up of the very fine adze/side axe work on the beams.  But I managed a snap of the carpenters’ joint markings.

There were a group of ladies in the hall embroidering panels for a Bayeux-type tapestry of Harold’s other battle – Fulford in Yorkshire before the fateful showdown at Hastings.  I didn’t get a picture but had a chat about the work.

The hall has some interesting early chairs and chests on display

Beautiful carving, and , like Peter Folansbee‘s excellent (and finer) work in Massachusetts you can see various scribe marks setting out the pattern:

I love the way the setting out must have been completely forgotten before setting out on carving this one

That top frieze was never going to fit.

There was also a rather bizarre chair that is supposed to be an apprentice piece, illustrating various turning techniques (but excluding design considerations apparently)

And while very modern by comparison, this chair by Thompson of Kilburn is now a modern classic – don’t miss the signature mouse.

There were also a few good old windsor chairs

The one on the left looks like it may be from Nottinghamshire (the chair making tradition was not very well developed in Yorkshire, surprisingly, considering the number of people living here in the 19th century), the stick back looks pretty similar and is probably from the same area.

There were also some smokers drawn up around a table, the heavy turning on the legs suggests a Yorkshire origin.

Brick, wood and stone

Just spent a couple of enjoyable days in York, which is only an hour’s drive away from where I live.

The city goes back at least to Roman times, with various periods between then and now represented in buildings and artefacts.

There is a strong Viking influence as Eirik Bloodaxe took the city during his brief rule as King of Northumbria in the 10th century.  We attended a lecture launching a new biography of Eirik by Gareth Williams of the British Museum.  Dispelled quite a few myths like Vikings didn’t really have horns on their helmets, feathers of birds, maybe.  It was the annual Viking Festival in York so there was quite a lot Viking goings on, and even a few pukka Norwegians wandering about.

There is so much to look at in York it is a feast for the eyes, from buildings to carvings and the most magnificent Gothic cathedral in Europe:

This is just the South Transept which was badly damaged by a lightening-started fire in 1985 and has been restored, you can see how crisp the stone work is near the roof as I suspect this is part of the restoration.  At present the East front is buried under scaffolding for refurbishment and I was fascinated to see the hand carved stone awaiting fitting

There is much stonework everywhere you look, and because of its age there is a delightful irregularity

This is a wall of the Merchant Venturers’ Hall Chapel (of which more anon).  How much more appeal has this than some of our modern offerings, and what will they look like in 1,000 years time?

Much prefer these delights for the eye:

Merchant Venturers’ Hall timber framing.

And this:

The Hospitium, Museum Gardens.

And this:

King’s Manor, Exhibition Square (I’m sure that dormer window would look much better painted black though!)

To be continued …