Nicholas Penny

Last year I travelled frequently on the early-morning coach from London to Oxford which passes Sir Edwin Cooper’s pair of Classical municipal buildings in Marylebone. The first of these is the Town Hall of 1914: proudly alert like the lions which guard its portal; perhaps ostentatious like the swollen waistcoats paraded by its original occupants; ‘massive and effusive,’ Pevsner puts it. I couldn’t decide how much to like it. But the library beside it is a different matter. Its elevations are tighter, its detail sharper and less showy. I began to look forward to its disciplined and exalted harmonies as keenly as I did to the great Classical architecture awaiting me in Oxford. It was built in 1939.

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