Filed under 18th century architecture

Shipley Art Gallery

Shipley Art Gallery

This is a brilliant venue, all the more so as it is owned and run by Gateshead Council and is said to have the finest collection of ceramics outside London’s V&A. I visited it when it opened and for an hour I was the only visitor though the staff warned some children were coming later. … Continue reading


For many centuries tradesmen learned their craft via apprenticeships. In Britain they were generally contracted outside the family to widen the skills taught and if a master died, the newly qualified journeyman might marry his master’s widow to continue the business and prevent the family becoming bankrupt. This meant it was rare for people in … Continue reading

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

This is a wonderful, haunting but small museum, a place that should make you fall down and give thanks to whoever you believe in that modern medicine exists. It’s in the attic to provide maximum light for operations. Everything is so small, especially the operating table which I doubt would be long enough for me. … Continue reading

Public Dissections

Modern medicine tends to be divided between doctors in general practice, and those in hospitals who specialise in various fields. But for centuries there were two groups: Physicians who were educated, elite and well educated, and barber-surgeons who were mere tradesmen and often treated people by bleeding them. Apparently this in turn dates to when … Continue reading

Octagon Chapel Bath – Update

This chapel was the first subscription chapel in England. William Herchell was organist there and his sister was in the choir. It is one of he most beautiful Georgian buildngs in Bath, but when the Royal Photographic Society moved out it struggled to find new purpose, especially after the main street entrance was sold for … Continue reading

Strawberry Hill House

Strawberry Hill House

This country house at Twickenham is often mentioned in literature of 18th century England, but I thought it had been lost long ago. Incredibly, it has been rescued and is now open to the public. This gem was built by Horace Walpole, youngest son of Britain’s first Prime Minister. It was the first modern gothic … Continue reading

William Wallace’s Kirk Found?

This is from the latest Current Archaeology: The remains of a medieval church, recently discovered in Selkirk, may be the remains of the ‘Kirk of the Forest’ where William Wallace was made Guardian of Scotland following his victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, archaeologists suggest. Chris Bowles, Scottish Borders Council archaeologist, together … Continue reading

Newcastle’s Castle

Newcastle is a large, ancient city in the north of England, the birthplace of Sting and Eric Burdon, but despite the name, few people probably think about its namesake. This is from Highways & Byways of Northumberland: The castle occupied an area of 3 acres enclosed by a curtain shall through which the chief entrance … Continue reading

Byzantine Acoustics

This may seem to be a piece that’s gone way of the obscurity meter even for my posting, but sound in churches is intriguing, because it shows how much ancient people could figure out and get acoustics right without our modern technology. There is a general consensus that religious music and architecture are interconnected, but … Continue reading

After the Fire

Last year one of the nation’s most important 18th century mansions went up in flames. When I saw it on the news I thought that was the end of it, but miraculously, parts of it survived and the National Trust is now restoring it. Not to its full original state, as too much was lost … Continue reading