Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Erechtheum and St Pancras

click photo to enlarge
Many years ago we had a holiday based in Athens. Being interested in architecture I was keen to see the fount of the classical style and we spent many happy days clambering over the ancient ruins that litter that city. Two of the sites that particularly impressed me were the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis. I was interested in the Erechtheum for the Caryatids, female figures that take the place of columns in that particular building, because I knew the most famous English copy of this feature. Several years earlier, in one of my first forays into London I had walked the length of Euston Road and passed what in architectural circles is known as St Pancras New Church (to distinguish it from the nearby older St Pancras). Here a raised room (tribune) has a row of Caryatids, less weathered versions of those to be seen in Athens.

New is a relative term in this instance. New St Pancras is a Greek Revival church built in 1819-22 by William and Henry William Inwood. Looking at the London caryatids recently I pondered the great imponderable once more: why did anyone think that the classical style of architecture - particularly that of ancient Greece - was appropriate for for a church of the Christian religion. One can almost understand the Romanesque style being used for churches: after all it post-dates the rise of Christianity. The Roman style overlaps with the beginning of the Christian era. But the ancient Greek civilization pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years, is one that worshipped multiple gods, and seems singularly inappropriate as a model for Christian architecture. But try telling that to Christopher Wren!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Caryatids, St Pancras New Church, London
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 20mm (40mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On