Sunday, August 16, 2009

Plastic wrapping and facelifts

click photo to enlarge
What could be behind this slightly dramatic looking plastic wrapping? Is it a modern office block under construction, all gleaming glass and shiny steel, a testament to opulence, affluence and the worship of money? Perhaps what is underneath is of little consequence, and it's the shrink-wrap itself that is important because it's an artwork by those artful charlatans, Christo and Jean-Claude. But no, as you've probably guessed, it's a building under renovation. But which building? Here is an official description in the dry but precise prose of English Heritage's National Monuments Record.

"BOSTON TF3243SE HIGH STREET 716-1/14/63 (East side) 27/05/49 Nos.118A, 120 AND 122 GV II* Includes: 118A, 120 AND 112 HIGH STREET OXFORD STREET. Banker's house, now flats. c1770, added to late C18, early C19, altered late C19 and C20. Red brick in Flemish bond, slate roofs, ashlar dressings, red brick ridge and valley stacks. EXTERIOR: centre house of 3 storeys, with 5 bays, the 3 centre bays slightly advanced and pedimented. Plinth, 1st floor platt band, dentilled cornice, cartouche and rococo scrolls to pediment, balustraded parapet. Plain sashes with cambered heads and fluted keystones, arranged 2:1:2. Central 6-panel doors with radiating fanlight, panelled reveals, set in Ionic stone doorcase, pedimented with scrolled keystone and egg-and-dart surround. To left a late C18 canted bay of 2 storeys, with dentilled cornice at original height has been raised later to match the other side. Plain sash to both faces, fluted keystones, centre one with acanthus leaf scroll. 1st floor windows have been heightened, front one is blocked. To right an early C19 canted bay of 2 storeys with a single plain sash to each canted face matching the left one. 3 similar windows above. The return to Oxford Street has a 2-panel C19 door with plain overlight and pilastered doorcase with dentilled flat hood on scrolled acanthus brackets. Rear is faced in ashlar, painted, with sill bands, dentilled cornice to plain parapet, plain sashes and later inserted modern fenestration. INTERIOR: although much altered retains some full height panelling and panelled doors. HISTORY: the house was the C18 and C19 home of the Claypon family of Garfitts and Claypon Bank of Boston."

Yes, it's a large eighteenth century town house on the old High Street at Boston, Lincolnshire; one that had fallen on hard times that is currently in the process of being restored. Its status as a Grade II* listed building means it is an important structure for architectural, historical and locational reasons. When the work is completed I'll see if I can get a photograph of its new, post-facelift visage.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.8
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On