Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cottages orné

click photo to enlarge
I suppose the opposite of a blot on the landscape is an ornament on the landscape: something that is designed to beautify a location. The well-to-do have sought such things down the centuries in various forms including tree planting, artificial lakes, eye-catcher follies and monuments, and country houses in what they consider to be the best of taste.

But what is a wealthy landowner or lord to do beyond these in order to elevate his surroundings above those of his neighbours? Well, he could build a complete village of decorative houses, or if that would stretch his purse too far, he could control the entry to his grounds by building a lodge or two in the style known as cottage orné. These buildings, ornamental, artful, rustic, often asymmetrical, arose in England out of the eighteenth century cult of the Picturesque and continued to be built well into the nineteenth century. Often they were gatekeeper's lodges, sometimes simply the cottages of farm or other labourers who worked on the estate. In some cases, however, they were built on a grander scale and were designed for "rustic" living by the wealthy. The early nineteenth century example in today's photograph was a lodge at the entry to the long gone home of the Beridge family, Algarkirk Park, in Lincolnshire. It is painted brick with a conical tile roof and a centrally placed chimney stack. A small wing extends out of the main circular structure. The windows are pointed, and nearby is the remains of the old limestone wall that formed part of the entrance to the country house grounds.

When I first saw this building, several years ago, I imagined it was either a cottage orné or a toll house for a turnpike road (these sometimes had fanciful designs too). I've photographed the building a few times but without much success. What appealed to me on this occasion was the wispy clouds overhead. I adjusted my position to let one of them introduce a note of asymmetry to my symmetrical composition.

N.B. Man masters machine "triumph of the day"
Having ignored diacritical marks (accents) in the blog thus far, today I was minded to put them in: hence the acute on the e of orné. I remember learning how to do this with the ALT key and numerical codes years ago, but I just never got round to putting it into practice here. The problem is, now that I've done it once, I'll have to do it always henceforth!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 48mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On