Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wilson Street, Newark

click photo to enlarge
Today's photographs show the quite "industrial" looking Wilson Street in Newark, Nottinghamshire. It is not the sort of street that you usually find alongside the graveyard of a large medieval church, and its presence there is all the more remarkable when you consider that there was once a matching terrace on the other side of the road where I took my shots. This oddity is explained by the fact that the houses were built (in 1766) by the vicar of the church, Bernard Wilson.

My curiosity about this Georgian cleric was piqued when I read Pevsner's summary about the terrace in "The Buildings of England: Nottinghamshire". He describes him as "an extremely wealthy pluralist of questionable character." A little digging uncovered the following. Wilson acquired his position and fortune by befriending wealthy men. His job he got through his contemporary at Westminster School, Thomas Pelham, who later became the Duke of Newcastle. His wealth came to him from the member of parliament for Newark, Sir George Markham. It seems that Markham promised Wilson a vast sum of money in his will if the young vicar married the MP's niece. Wilson inherited the money but didn't marry the niece. Further upsets and law suits followed Wilson as he tried to use his wealth to advance his own interests and those of the people he favoured. All this gave him a dubious reputation in some sections the town and society beyond, not a word of which is alluded to in his memorial in Newark church. This includes the following: "a man of sense, politeness and learning, without pride, reserve or pedantry. Possessed of an affluent fortune, his hand was ever open to relieve the necessitous. His extensive charities when living, and ample benefactions at his decease, have raised him a living monument in the hearts of the poor." Wilson did, in fact, use some of his money well, and for the alleviation of poverty. However, unsurprisingly, given human nature, those are not the foremost acts that posterity allies to his name.

The street itself is brick built with hipped pantile roofs. Raised bands separate the three floors. Pavilion-like projections close each end of the terrace and the centre projects by a similar (small) amount. This has a modest, central, arched doorway with a blocked fanlight. The houses were restored and converted around 1980. In some respects, though on a grander scale and earlier in date, they remind me of Nelson Street in King's Lynn. They have that same stripped-down, utilitarian feel. I like them for their unfussy spareness, though I'm not sure I'd like to live in them.

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On