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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

Oh, and here’s the BBC page on the woodcarving program — episode 2, The Glorious Grinling Gibbons. Again, probably won’t play for you outside the UK, but he’s totally worth a Google Images search.

There’s a vulgar joke about wood in here somewhere, I feel sure


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:03 am

Thanks, Stoatie. That’s captivating and wonderful!

Usage note: You said the first and second floor front bay windows (that’s second and third floor to my fellow Americans). Wouldn’t that be first and second storey windows over there?

Many, many, manymanymany years ago our family lived in Buenos Aires for several years. The first time I used an elevator there I wondered why there was a button for peanut butter (I was 9 years old). It turns out that PB stands for Planta Baja, or ground floor. Next level up was Primer Piso, or first floor/storey. Ok, that memory is likely more interesting to me than anyone else, but that’s what happens on open post blogs!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:06 am

And what did you think happened on the PP floor? *snicker*

Comment from Redd
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:07 am

I’m a big fan of those shows & will watch the last episode tonight. I also like Restoration Man & Restoration Home. And I will wear black for a year b/c they have cancelled Time Team, sob! There’s also a couple of good docs on Pugin.

There are photos taken of old Tudor buildings before they were torn done on the internet. Pretty cool.

Comment from Redd
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:10 am

Yeah and I wandered around Florence impressed that eveyone was offering “piano” lessons.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:10 am

I an totally jealous right now. On our last visit to the UK I specifically sought out Grinling Gibbons pieces. I saw a lovely carving at Buckingham Palace, I asked the docent if it was one of his and she didn’t know! She thought it was one of his students. ARGH, one should know these things!!! Enjoy the programme!!!

Comment from Redd
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:17 am


Comment from Nina
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:19 am

You just don’t see things like this in California very often.

Okay, at all.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 30, 2013, 1:39 am

Near Spitalfields?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2013, 10:55 am

Yup. Look at the map at the first link. Then look at the map a the Bishopsgate link. Four hundred years of population explosion, right there.

Comment from Carl
Time: January 30, 2013, 3:32 pm

Fascinating photograph of the exterior of the pub in your first link (taken in about 1865) with a cabby reading a newspaper whilst waiting for a fare.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2013, 5:38 pm

Well this is the awesomest comment spam I’ve gotten in a while:

You still can be politically correct and have your exchange. Pearl keeps normal body temperature and in fever it works as a comforting blanket to the body of its natives. Surrounded by giant phallus, Lady Bess remains unperturbed as she selectively photographs images for Play
Girl magazine.

Comment from Deborah
Time: January 30, 2013, 6:07 pm

Speaking of vulgar jokes—I know this is off-topic but I can’t resist: Whiffle balls, probably.


Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: January 30, 2013, 8:15 pm

Yaknow, there was a time when balls wasn’t said in polite society.

Comment from Davem123
Time: January 30, 2013, 9:06 pm

Clicking on a link on the Victoria & Albert site led me to a beautiful tapestry:

One of the ladies in the tapestry is wearing a rich red gown lined with Miniver, which is described as an expensive white fur derived from the bellies of Baltic squirrels (which could take a while.) Apparently, however, it is taken from the belly of the Stoat. See how it all comes together?

I do so enjoy your little place here, Stoatie. It distracts me from …, well, you know.

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 30, 2013, 9:11 pm

Check this out Sweasel:http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/index.html

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2013, 10:36 pm

Well, I’ll be darned, Oceania. They finally put a disclaimer on there. My copies are still working fine, and if they told me to delete them, I would.

Stoat tail — AKA ermine, Davem.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 30, 2013, 10:40 pm

Nah, Ermine is winter weasel.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2013, 10:43 pm

Stoat is what Brits call a weasel. And what they call weasels, Americans call Least Weasels (the little teeny tiny dudes).

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: January 31, 2013, 12:46 am

Is there an estimate anywhere of how many man-hours it took to produce that?

Comment from mojo
Time: January 31, 2013, 8:42 pm

I got cussed out by a weasel once. True story.

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