After I’d had a look around the Minster in Howden, I decided to have a mooch around the town starting in the town square, which is immediately in front of the east end of the Minster.


It was a thriving town in medieval times with a connection to the Bishops of Durham. They would stay in the town when travelling down to London and had a palace built here. The remains, the Bishop’s Manor, is just off the market square and around the corner from the Minster .



Originally there was a complex range of buildings, inside an irregular walled courtyard. But the majority of these buildings were demolished in the late 16th century. Nevertheless the remaining structure is quite impressive for a small town.

The Minister towers over the buildings in the town centre


The old streets are narrow and twisty, probably reflecting their medieval origin.



but many of the buildings are Georgian town houses built for professional men and tradesmen




With a few grand houses


This is the town’s war memorial. An ornate Gothic monument.


During the First World War an airship station was built just to the north of the town, near Spaldington. The airships based here provided protection for ports and shipping along the east coast. After the war the station was closed but the hangers were converted into a manufacturing facility for airships including the R100, designed by Sir Barnes Wallis (who later designed the Vickers Wellington bomber invented the “bouncing bomb” used by the Dambusters).  The author Nevil Shute Norway (better known as Nevil Shute) was part of the team that created the R100 and lived in the town.




I’m working in East Yorkshire this week, staying in Goole. I had an early start on Monday so had booked to stay over on Sunday evening. Sunday looked a promising day and I didn’t fancy being stuck in front of the telly watching the Wimbledon men’s final (I don’t get tennis I’m afraid) so I decided to drive over the Pennines early afternoon and find something to do. The small, historic town of Beverley is about 30 minutes further east from Goole and as I’ve never been there before (only seen it signposted off the motorway when driving over to Hull) I decided it might be a good bet to keep me occupied. I wasn’t wrong.

The town grew up around a monastery that was founded at the beginning of the 8th Century and there’s been a church here ever since. Today the town’s main attraction is the Minster which was built between 1220 and around 1420.


Although it has the size and grandeur of a cathedral, it isn’t the seat of a Bishop, and only has the status of a Parish Church.


The town has an attractive shopping street. Unfortunately it is mainly populated by the main high street chains. There were plenty of pubs and places to eat – a reflection of it being a tourist destination.


Most of the buildings in the town centre are Georgian and Victorian but there are some traces of the town’s medieval heritage. The North Bar is one of them.


It’s the last remaining gateway that protected the entrance to the town and at one time had  a drawbridge. There were originally five but the other four are long gone.

A short distance away is another Medieval Gothic church, St Mary’s. Like the Minster, a fine example of Gothic architecture. It dates from the 12th century and so predates the minster. It underwent a major restoration between 1844 and 1876 under the successive supervision of Augustus Welby Pugin, his son E. Welby Pugin, and Sir Gilbert Scott. So it’s appearance probably reflects the Victorian take on Gothic like many other churches (including our own Wigan Parish church)


There’s a medieval building more or less opposite St Mary’s – now converted into an up-market shopping centre


Lot’s of attractive Georgian buildings around the town.








There are also examples of other architectural styles. This is the local library built in the early 20th Century. I’d probably describe it as Edwardian Baroque


The old Corn Exchange, from the same period.


And an Art Deco style façade in amongst the Georgian buildings on the corner of the Saturday Market and main shopping street, Toll Gavel.


An interesting town, well worth the diversion (as the Michelin Guide would put it). It rather reminded me of a smaller scale version of York, minus the medieval walls.

Dublin Fanlights


Georgian houses in Dublin are relatively plain with little ornamentation. Typically, the front is fairly plain brickwork, only broken up by long windows. In these houses, the main decorative feature tends to be the door and the semi-circular fan-light, which present an opportunity for some individuality.

Fanlights are, as the name implies fan-shaped windows above the front door which illuminate an otherwise dark hallway. In Georgian times, natural light, candles and oil
lamps were the only means of lighting the darker parts of houses, such as the hallways. They’re both a functional and a decorative feature and in Dublin there are many different designs.

During my latest visit to the city, due to the weather I didn’t spend much time wandering around the streets but even a short walk in the streets to the south of the Lifffey takes you past plenty of Georgian squares and streets. I spotted this rather unusual example near to the RHA Gallery.


During a relatively short walk, I snapped a number of other examples – all different.

This is a relatively simple example


A much bigger window with a more complex pattern


This one is a little like a spider’s web


This one is really fancy


This one has a glass box built into it which would hold a lamp or candle to light the outside of the house



As does this one – a grander version


Beningborough Hall


Last weekend we decided we’d take a break and go up to the North East to visit family, combining the trip with some tourism and a hill walk. On Saturday, we took a short detour off our route to visit Beningborough Hall, a National Trust property a few miles north of York. The hall was was built for a York landowner, John Bourchier III to replace his family’s modest Elizabethan manor. It was completed in 1716 this year is its 300th birthday.

The estate passed to the Dawnay family in 1827 (distant relatives of the Bourchiers). In 1916 it was bought purchased by the Count and Countess of Chesterfield. During the Second World War Beningbrough was used to house airmen from the bomber squadrons at nearby Linton-on-Ouse. Lady Chesterfield returned in 1947 and lived on alone in the house until her death in 1957 and in June 1958 the estate was passed on to the National Trust in lieu of death duties.

George I came to the throne in1714, two years before the house was completed, so it would be true to say that it is a Georgian mansion, but it is more ornate than the typical great Palladian houses associated with this period of history.The NT describe it as Italianate Baroque, although in a restrained English variation of the flamboyant, Catholic, style found in mainland Europe.


The interior layout was very similar to that of Castletown, the first Palladian mansion in Ireland that I visited last year.

There was the grand, double story entrance hall


and interconnected rooms with doors aligned so that when open you could see along the entire length of the house.




The rooms were very ornate


and there were very grand and tall four poster beds in the bedrooms

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I liked the displays and installations that the NT had set out in various rooms linked to the history of the house.

This display of tea cups in the drawing room celebrated the Dawnay family connection to Earl Grey. There’s probably at least two days worth of tea cups based on my personal consumption!


The horse racing tags in the fireplace below the portrait of Lady Chesterfield celebrate her interest in the sport. There are several racecourses nearby.


The NT work in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and the hall has oer 120 18th-century portraits on display throughout the house. And on he top floor there are seven interpretation galleries featuring an exhibition – ‘Making Faces: 18th century Style’

They also host temporary exhibitions. Currently here’s a small display of portraits of noted natives of Yorkshire, including this one of Alan Bennett.

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In an outbuilding there’s a recreation of a Victorian laundry.


The laundresses wouldn’t have had a easy life, even if they did have a primitive washing machine.



Afterwards we went out into the sunshine to explore the gardens. There are six acres of immaculate gardens – with lawns, formal garden areas, and a Walled Kitchen Garden



Given the time of year there were lots of colourful tulips in full bloom.






I rather liked this tea pot. A good size for me! Alas, it wouldn’t be practical – it would leak quite badly!


We spent a good half day exploring, longer than we expected. An enjoyable visit and “well worth a detour”, as they would say in the Michelin Guide.

Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth

Although the weather forecast for the last day of our short break in the Lake District didn’t predict rain, they got it wrong! But we hadn’t intended to go out for a walk but to spend the day mooching around Keswick and then to visit the Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth, just over 10 miles away and we didn’t let a little rain disrupt our plans.

The “Wordsworth House and Garden” is a large Georgian townhouse which is the birthplace and childhood home of the romantic poet. It stands in a prominent position on the main street and today it’s owned by the National Trust. At the moment it’s undergoing some restoration work and the front was obscured somewhat by scaffolding, so the following photograph is taken from the National Trust’s website.

Wordsworth House was the birthplace and childhood home of poet William © John Millar

Wordsworth’s father, John, was a lawyer who worked as the agent for the Cumberland estates of Sir James Lowther. He moved into the “tied” house (it came with the job) in 1765, marrying Ann Lowther, the daughter of a prosperous draper from Penrith the following year. They had five children: Richard in 1768, William in 1770, Dorothy in 1771, John in 1772 and Christopher in 1774.

When Ann died in 1778 William and his brother Richard were sent to Hawkshead Grammar School where they lived with a local woman and his sister Dorothy was sent to live with elatives in Halifax. Their father died in December 1783 and as the house went with the job the children became homeless and had to be sent to live with relatives.

Visitors see the house as it would have appeared when Wordsworth lived there with his parents, and siblings in the 1770s. It’s probably pretty typical of the type of house a Georgian middle class professional family would have lived in.

John Wordsworth’s study


The Clerk’s office


The Dining Room where guests would have been entertained


but wouldn’t have been used for the family’s daily meals. They would have been taken in the cosy Parlour, the main family living room, on the other side of the house, just off the kitchen



The large kitchen


The Drawing Room, another room used for entertaining and impressing guests, is at the front of the house on the first floor, very typical of Georgian houses



The family bedrooms were also on the first floor

Ann’s bedroom


The childrens’ bedroom


There’s a large garden at the back of the house, overlooking the River Derwent





The scarecrow has his own blog!

Wordsworth wrote about his childhood in his epic biographical poem The Prelude and he clearly had happy memories of living and growing up in the house.

The Pepper Canister

This distinctive building is St Stephen’s church. It’s located at the end of Mount Street which is off the south east corner of Merrion Square in Dublin. It was the last Georgian church to be built in the city. Designed by the architect John Bowden, building started in 1821 and it was consecrated in 1824. It gets it’s name from the distinctive tower with it’s round copper cupola supported by 8 columns.


The other dominant feature is the large portico with a triangular pediment supported by two ionic columns that frames the entrance.

According to the church website:

The tower and portico were consciously modelled on three elegant Athenian monuments, reflecting the shift from Roman to Greek influences in the later Georgian period: the portico (The Erechtheum), the campanile (“The Tower of the Winds”), and the cupola (Monument of Lysicrates).

The design of the rest of the church is relatively simple with plain glass windows and minimal ornamentation. Originally built as a rectangular structure, the semi-circular apse was added in 1852.



Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin


During my latest trip to Ireland with work, a couple of weeks ago, I caught an early fast ferry arriving early afternoon, so took the opportunity to spend a few hours in Dublin. I called into the National Gallery to revisit a couple of the exhibitions taking place there, but as the weather was fine and sunny, I took the opportunity to pass some time wandering round the Georgian streets and squares on the South Side.

Fitzwilliam Square, which is to the south of Merrion Square, probably gives the best impression of what residential streets used to be like when the houses were first built. The houses on all four sides of the square are in good condition, although these days they seem to have been converted into flats or used for commercial or other non-residential purposes – the Irish branches of the Goethe Institute and the Italian Cultural Institute are based here.


I found he following information in a brochure about the square, an Architectural Conservation Area, issued by Dublin City Council

The Square was managed and developed on the land of Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam, hence the name and was built on Baggotrath, bounded by two of the three ancient routes leading southwards out of the city, the Beggars Bush Road and the road to Donnybrook (Leeson St), with the third highway (later Baggot St) meandering through the centre of the area, dominated by Baggotrath Castle.

Fitzwilliam Square was designed from 1789 and laid out in 1792. The centre of the square was enclosed in 1813 through an Act of Parliament.

Lord Fitzwilliam, who issued the leases, ensured that buildings were built in a uniform manner through strict conditions and controls within the lease. This was a challenge as there were a variety of different builders / owners within the square. The leases would set out the height and number of stories permitted, type of windows suitable and front façade materials allowable. The terms of the leases ensured that the exteriors represented a strong uniform typical Georgian elevation.

There’s a very pleasant park in the centre of the square. But it’s fenced off and the gates locked and only accessible to residents.


I sneaked some photographs through the railings




This is exactly how it used to be in Georgian times, unlike other squares in Dublin where central gardens have been converted into public parks.

Famous residents have included the Irish artist, Jack B Yeats


who lived at this house, No. 18,  on the south east corner


The Red Lodge, Bristol

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The Red Lodge is an old house run as a museum by Bristol City Council. Built in 1580 as the lodge for a large grand house, which is long gone, it was altered around 1730, and restored in the early 20th century. It’s been used as a private residence during the Elizabethan and Georgian periods and also as a reform school for girls during the 19th Century.

Like the Georgian House Museum, entry is free. Information is sparse and there wasn’t a guidebook. But visitors are given a laminated information sheet and the room stewards were very friendly and helpful; when asked they were very keen to tell the story of the house and point out interesting features

A number of rooms are open to the public. The first floor rooms are decorated and furnished in Elizabethan style. The centrepiece is the Great Oak Room  with it’s dark, carved oak panelling, an ornate plasterwork ceiling and carved stone chimneypiece.


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The oak panelling is decorated with intricate carvings with figures and other objects from the New World, representing the source of the owner’s wealth.





The panelling in the bedroom, which features an ornate oak four poster bed, is much less intricate.


The Elizabethan theme continues outside where a Tudor-style knot garden filled with flowers and shrubs of the period has also been created.


It’s best viewed through the windows on the first floor

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The ground floor rooms are decorated in Georgian style. They weren’t as interesting as the Elizabethan style rooms, but still worth a look.

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The house is quite small and doesn’t take too long to look round, but it was definitely worth a visit.

The Georgian House Museum, Bristol

Keeping on with my Georgian Bristol theme, while we were in Bristol we paid a visit to the Council owned Georgian House Museum on Great George Street. It’s a fairly substantial house that was originally owned by John Pinney, a wealthy slave plantation owner and sugar merchant, who made his fortune in the West Indies.


The house was built in 1790 and is typical of the period. It’s the third Georgian house we’ve been inside in recent years, having visited those in Dublin and Edinburgh. The Bristol house is grander than the one in Dublin, which was which was part of a development aimed at the middle class, but not as grand as that in Edinburgh which was owned by a member of the Scottish landed aristocracy.

There are five floors, counting the basement and the attic and eleven rooms, spread over four floors, can be visited. There is little original furniture, but it has been well fitted out representative of the period.

John Pinney was either a man of relatively simple tastes, or, possibly, relatively mean, as the decoration is relatively simple with not much in the way of fancy plasterwork on the walls and ceilings, like I saw recently in the Georgian house where the James Joyce Centre in Dublin is located.

On the ground floor there’s a study with some fine pieces of period furniture including an attractive bookcase.


This is the dining room.


Formal meals would be served here, although everyday meals would probably be taken in the private, personal rooms on the first and second floors.

Down in the basement there’s a large kitchen, where food would have been prepared and then sent upstairs,


and other rooms used by the servants, including a laundry which was occupied by a party of young school children re-enacting the folding of the linen and other tasks while dressed up in period costume.  There was also the housekeeper’s parlour and this intriguing cold water plunge pool used by the master of the house (no longer containing any water).


The first floor of Georgian houses, or “piano nobile” was usually used for entertainment, and this was the case with the Bristol house.


Guests would be entertained here in the main drawing room on the first floor; the grandest room in the house. It appears as if it is at the back of the house – the opposite side to the front door. But in Georgian times this room would have had a view down the hill over the city and it is likely that people down the hill would be able to see in through the large windows especially when lit up. After all, that is what the owners would have wanted –  to show off and make an impression.


I quite liked the effect created on the ceiling by the chandelier.

The curtains and blinds are kept closed, but he view these days, which can be seen from the rooms on the second floor, is nothing to write home about.

The bedrooms were on the second floor. Only one was accessible and it contained this four poster bed and a child’s cradle.


There was a small display about slavery and John Pinder’s history as a slave owner running a plantation on the Caribbean island of Nevis, in one of the other rooms.

The attic rooms would have been occupied by servants, including Pero, Pinney’s personal valet and slave, who was purchased when he was only 12, along with two younger sisters. The bridge over the floating harbour near the busy bars on the waterfront is named after him (“Pero’s bridge”).


Entry into the museum was free. There were no guided tours, visitors were free to wander around on their own, but an information sheet was provided.

Georgian Bristol – Clifton


Although it’s now very much part of Bristol, the leafy suburb of Clifton used to be outside the city limits, only being formally incorporated into the city in the 1830s. The area developed rapidly in the late Georgian period when wealthy Bristolians wanted to move out to a pleasanter environment.

Because of when the development of the area occurred it is dominated by Georgian / Regency and Victorian style houses and other buildings.

These very typical Georgian houses are on Sion Hill, in a prime location overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I suspect that the balconies are later additions.


These three houses, further down Sion Hill,  have interesting black and white canopies over the first floor balconies.


These houses have bow and bay windows, unusual compared to most of the Georgian houses I’ve seen around the country.


Although there are plenty of individual style houses, Clifton has more examples of the planned Georgian terraces and crescents than the city centre. This is Royal York Crescent, a late Georgian development. The stuccoed houses are rather plain other than for the balconies which are their dominant feature.


The crescent is built up on a vaulted terrace so the houses are in an elevated position overlooking the River Avon.


This is the central section of a grand building that stands at the top end of Caledonia Place, a long narrow square with typical Georgian and Regency houses built around a pleasant garden.


It was originally built as the Clifton Hotel and Assembly Rooms, so quite an important building in it’s day which explains the very ornate design with the triangular pediment, tall ionic columns, pedimented ground floor windows and rusticated base. The wings of the building, which aren’t in the picture, also have a number of ornamental flourishes.

Here’s a longer view of the  building from inside the garden in the centre of the square.


The buildings on the east and west sides of the square were built in two phases. The older phase, at the top end, on both sides consists of a terrace of houses built as a “mock palace”. The houses at both ends and the centre of the terrace are pedimented and project slightly forward.


There have been a number of modifications over time to some of the houses, included first floor iron balconies (these really must have become fashionable in Bristol at some point, they’re everywhere) and extensions on the roof, which, to me, ruin the roof line and the overall look of the terrace. They wouldn’t be allowed by today’s planning laws.

The top house on the east side has had some substantial modifications adding a balcony supported by Corinthian columns which were made in the 1920’s when it was first converted into a bank.


A view from the central garden across to the west terrace.

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The houses at the southern end of the square are also built as terraces, but to a simpler overall design and with no attempt to pretend they’re a grand palace. They al have first floor balconies which seemed to be identical and so where probably part of the original design.


Another view from inside the central garden. A good display of Spring bluebells evident too.

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There’s a lot more to Clifton than we were able to see during our short visit to Bristol. As well as the Georgian and Victorian Houses there’s a modern Catholic Cathedral, opened in the 1970’s,  that I’d have liked to have seen. Another time perhaps.