Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Institute, Deeping St James

click photo to enlarge
As I passed this Victorian building on Church Street, at Deeping St James in Lincolnshire, two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was, "That's an interesting way of dressing up a facade." The second concerned the wire that stretches from the top left to the centre, then drops down to disappear into a hole above the doorway. It occurred to me that it had been positioned with all the sensitivity of a tattoo on the end of a person's nose.

I photographed the building, known as "The Institute", mainly because of the unusual yellow brickwork designs that form both the quoins to the left and right, and the surrounds for the tall windows and the door. However, once I'd got my photograph onto the computer, had corrected the converging verticals, and began to study the facade, a lot more details caught my eye, and quite a few questions came to mind. For example, why did the builder or architect place a large piece of stone at the bottom left and bottom right corners? Why did he use stone for the sills of the three windows rather than wrapping the brickwork surrounds underneath? Why does his design for the "shoulders" of the door surround differ from those of the windows? Why is the band of yellow brickwork that crosses the facade at the level of the window sills flush with the wall and hence barely visible?

The building's style borrows from that of a church or chapel (tall and pointed openings), and from classical precedents (the brick plinth, quoins and hints of "Gibbs surrounds" in the work around the windows and doorway). It is Classical too in its severe symmetry: note that even the bootscrapers are doubled up, one on each side of the door, lest the building become even slightly unbalanced. The use, almost exclusively, of brick, and the vernacular touch of a dog-tooth corbel just below the eaves, betrays its provincial origins, lower cost, and lower status. Despite its relatively elaborate decoration it is still quite a utilitarian building. I haven't been able to find out much about its origins. Was it always an Institute? Was it a non-conformist chapel originally? Whatever its past, its present includes housing the Parish Council of Deeping St James, and offering more than a little interest and intrigue to passers-by who care to stop and stare.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On