Monday, September 17, 2018


Almost a month back in Dubai and I've made a lot of progress on the Bank of England model. But I'm still falling behind in terms of recording my work here.  It's been such a mammoth effort to model the Bank and I find myself wanting to "push on a bit further" rather than breaking off to write up a post.  Then before you know it, the weekend is over.

This is a sequel to the "Backward Compatible Columns" post.

The windows mentioned in that post belong to the Court Room Suite, and can be attributed to Sir Robert Taylor, Soane’s predecessor. They probably took their cue from work by George Sampson, the original architect for the Bank. He built a double courtyard block on a deep site with a narrow frontage, hemmed in on both sides.

Sampson put a large Palladian window in the west wall of his Pay Hall, opening onto the greenery of the churchyard beyond. Later on, when Taylor expanded the Bank to the West, he demolished the church, but he wasn't allowed to dig up the graveyard. Instead, this was converted into the Garden Court, and Palladio-style windows continued around the perimeter.  I have reason to believe that the glazing above the arch was an innovation by Taylor.  Sampson's drawings show this portion as solid.  Perhaps it was a touch of bravado, or maybe he just wanted to bring more light into the room.  Presumably he modified the Pay Hall window to match,  He had to modify that end wall in any case because his new wing overlapped the corner, blocking one of the side windows.

The Pay Hall window uses Ionic columns, which are slightly larger than the Corinthian ones used in the Court Suite. Much grander in scale are the Ionic pilasters on plinths that divide the interior of the Pay Hall into bays. I had rather crude placeholders for these so it was a real pleasure to roll out updates using my modular system.  Note the blank panels to the right where the Court Room has blocked the corner.

The reference material for this space is patchy and inconsistent, so a leap of faith is needed. There are no photographs or survey drawings for the interior and Soane was never allowed to completely remodel it. Seems like an opportunity to test my own ability to operate in a classical mode.

I'm trying to capture the spirit of the Bank, and exploring history in the process. There is nothing to be gained from timidity or leaving spaces in unresolved limbo.  Note the feature on the East wall that mimics the Palladian window at the other end of the room.

The final contribution of my "Florida sessions" was to tackle the landscaping of the Garden Court. Some photographic evidence and an etching. Not clear who did what. Could be Taylor, probably some alterations in Victorian times. I added urns and some sunken paving. Needs stone balusters and raised planters that look a bit like stone coffins. That may not be what it was like in 1833, but it should look like a tidied up graveyard acting as a pleasant view for the benefit of the Bank's governing body, so at least we are making progress.

In fact I have made some more progress since that last image, so here is a more recent snapshot of the model.  "Spot the difference."

And to conclude, how about an updated view of the Court Room interior, with those splendid windows in place.  We need at least one more pass to add skirtings, upgrade the fireplaces, maybe show some paintings and furniture... but it's getting there.

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