Whoa. This thing.
We’re watching a really excellent 3-part BBC 4 series on wood carving in Britain (I’d link, but I don’t think the video works outside the UK). At the beginning of the program, as an example of Tudor carving, they spent a few minutes taking loving closeups of this thing. It’s a lot more impressive up close than it looks in my little picture.
It’s the façade of a house built by the wealthy merchant Sir Paul Pindar in London in 1599, back when Bishopsgate was rural. It covered the first and second floor front bay windows (that’s second and third floor to my fellow Americans). After his death, it housed a succession of foreign ambassadors. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 (a third of the city didn’t) only to become part of the London workhouse system, housing ‘poor children, vagabonds, beggars, pilferers, lewd, idle, and disorderly persons’. The ground floor was a pub called Sir Paul Pindar’s Head (O, fame!).
In 1890, they pulled the house down to enlarge the station at Liverpool Street, but somebody had the good sense to preserve this bit and give it to the Victoria and Albert museum. Here are all the articles relating to the facade from the V&A’s website, which includes some great stuff about the restoration and conservation. I love reading about conservation.
Three hundred years out of doors, this thing. In London. That’s oak for you
There’s a vulgar joke about wood in here somewhere, I feel sure