Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
gave the church a fine interior, with slender clustered stone columns (these were often of
cast iron at this date), a stone vaulted roof, possibly the earliest of the revival, and a trifori-
um and clerestory. But it is the exterior with its slender, dramatic tower that catches our
imagination - it is, in fact, magnificent scenery, and scenic qualities are an essential in-
gredient in all architecture worth the name. Incidentally, there is a tunnel in Britten Street,
close to St Luke's, running from the church to the Builders Arms, built at the same time as
the church to serve the thirsty workmen.
My drawing of the offices in Eastcheap brings me to another aspect of London Gothic
- the medieval offices of the 1860s and '70s. Many still remain in such streets as Queen
Victoria Street, and there is that splendid building in Lothbury, now occupied by an insur-
ance company, but once the Bank of Australasia, that is a realisation in stone of the writ-
ings of Ruskin and Street: The Stones of Venice brought to the City. I recommend a visit
to it to enjoy its useless, elaborately pierced balconies, its inset panels of marble, Vene-
tian arches, and polychrome decoration; the more so as, in juxtaposition with Wren's St
Margaret's Church and Soane's part of the Bank of England, it gives one food for thought
in the matter of varying architectural tastes. These Gothic offices are gradually disappear-
ing; more is the pity. Recalling all the director's offices I have been in, I cannot recall one
that was not dull and unimaginative. Company directors either go for something nearly
up to date (but not quite) or else, having a tendency to good taste, make a set at Regency
or stockbrokers' Chippendale. My office would be different. It would be Gothic-Morris-
Beardsley. For preference, I should select offices in one of the earliest and gloomiest Goth-
ic blocks I could find. If a dogcart were unsuitable, I should drive up in a vintage motor,
and the chauffeur would have a tightly buttoned coat, leggings, and goggles. My own coat
would be of fur, quite splendid and of incredible weight, and when not in use, would have
its own seat in the back of the motor. Visitors would pass through my secretary's room, the
walls of which would be hung with William Morris paper - a late one - acanthus on dark
blue. The telephone and typewriter would be of the period, and so would the girl, whose
terms of employment would include wearing high-necked blouses, long skirts, and black
shoes with buckles. Sometimes she would appear in button boots or occasionally in a Pre-
Raphaelite dress of willowy green, like a Walter Crane drawing. On a side table would
be slender copies of Baudelaire and Rossetti and leather-bound volumes of The Savoy and
The House of Pomegranates . In my own office, I should offer Turkish cigarettes and hock
and seltzer, and the pottery would be by William de Morgan. On the walls, otherwise os-
tentatiously plain, would be drawings by Beardsley to astonish and delight my clients and
guests. They would be drawings in which sinister women would smile in a rueful, aphro-
disiacal manner, hungry for the next sensation but one, and there would be drawings by
Rossetti, early watercolours bright like a medieval missal, Ruskins, and a letter from Wilde
to Bosie …
Search WWH ::

Custom Search