Studio: international art — 7.1896

Page: 22
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The Revival of English Domestic A rchitecture


journals from 1851 to 1S70 to realise how great is
the improvement. And from the palmy days of
Elizabeth and the still dignified Jacobean work, to
the days when Sir Christopher Wren re-introduced
new vitality to the imported classic styles, we shall
find nothing more individual or more suited to
English requirements than to-day can show.
. It is true that in Georgian days a few houses of
modest character fulfilled many of the bare essentials
of dwelling-places. But then the average house
was scarcely a thing of beauty and seldom a joy for
a moment, much less for ever. Avoiding all pre-
tence of being architectural, it sometimes missed
the highest degree of utility as well. Where a
rigid and superfluous symmetry of the facade
cramped the inside arrangements to accord with
the exterior, many questions of lighting and comfort
had to be ignored. Nor did the stern economy
which suppressed all sign of ornament work neces-
sarily to practical ends. The dreary monotony of
a row of square houses with square holes for win-
dows, aimed at being good honest British solidity,
with no affectation of art; but if you examine them
closer, the sham windows, the awkwardly placed

chimney-shafts, and dozens of other defects, entirely
unpractical, are easily discovered in their common-
place schemes. Not that the absence of orna-
mental details is in itself a thing to be deplored,
but all the same it renders a sense of fine propor-
tion and well-composed masses still more essential,
otherwise such buildings do not fall within the pro-
vince of architecture, but are merely houses for
human beings by the accident of circumstances,
instead of factories or sheds.

The dreary monotony of the mean street has
attracted no little attention of late years, but to
think that the mean street must be a row of work-
man's dwellings is obviously limiting facts. There
are many terraces at high rentals with their clumsy
porticos of stucco, and rows of early A^ictorian
Gothic houses, as mean and unlovely as a street in
Bethnal Green. Indeed, the lowest depth of mi-
mitigated ugliness is by no means confined to the
dreary alleys of large towns. Near the Fulham
Palace Road are rows of modern cottages, with all
the glories of carved key-stones, disproportionate
stone pillars with carved capitals flanking the
narrow front doors, and other " features " of the
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