Thursday, January 7, 2010

Libraries ...

the latest in an occasional series.

The longest room, at 195 feet, in Oxford, the Codrington Library, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, built in the 1730s at the College of All Souls of the Faithful Departed, a college founded in 1438 by Henry VI and Henry Chichele the Archbishop of Canterbury. A library and occasional dining room.

Finding Angus McBean's house in a 1980s edition of World of Interiors has had me sitting on the floor in my library looking for what else there might be. The 1980s were strange years, saturated as they were, in terms of architecture and interior design, with two major styles, each equally nostalgic - the English Country House Style and Post-Modernism. The two styles did mate at times and the pups of that liaison were quite laughable, or mystifying, depending on one's predilection.

It was in the 1980s, too, that Neo-Baroque, a Goth combination of curlicue, skull, horn and gold, with none of the majestic scale of the original but with all the quirkiness without the nobility, gained a foothold and galvanized magazine editors into paroxysms of delight. Also, in those years, te Deums, (or rather ta-dahs) were sung to owners of ancient piles who apparently for nothing more than an acknowledgement or, more likely a surge in entrance ticket sales, allowed photographers and stylists to disturb and record the dust of countless generations.

Such an ancient pile you see above, and very thankful I was to find it.


I forgot to attribute, thus .... photography by James Mortimer, accompanying an essay by David Sexton, from World of Interiors, June 1986.


  1. Ahhhh...when the architecture of a library was acknowledged to inspire just as much as the books it housed.

  2. Do you know off hand who the Codrington was who founded this library? Related to the Codringtons who built theological colleges too?

    Happy New Year, lucky you in balmy Atlanta - we crumple in the face of record snowfall...


  3. Janet - those were the days, definitely. Having witnessed the destruction of an admittedly much smaller library I value libraries such as this even more.

    ELS - all I can find is this link to Wikipedia