Gillian Darley

25 January 2024

Towering Achievement

Charles Holden was responsible for an astonishing 48 new Tube stations as well as the London Underground headquarters, a great tower at 55 Broadway, overlooking St James’s Park. That done, he shifted his focus to education, in 1931 winning the competition to design the University of London campus in Bloomsbury.

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18 September 2023

The Camera Man

The richness of Pevsner’s Leaves of Southwell lies above all in the photographs, printed in the best photogravure available in the postwar months.

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6 June 2023

In Sir John Soane’s Drawing Office

The Drawing Office has been newly revealed after a programme of cleaning and investigation. Too small and fragile to be open to more than handfuls of interested visitors, it turns out to be the sleeping beauty in the museum.

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2 May 2023

In Pope’s Grotto

Directly underfoot, or under the tarmac and tyres, completely invisible, is a place synonymous with some of the sharpest minds of the early 18th century, Alexander Pope’s grotto.

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15 November 2022

Bathed in Beige

While London’s National Gallery is heading for its 200th anniversary, branded NG200, the Guggenheim in Bilbao is celebrating its 25th. The stone treasure chest on Trafalgar Square and the titanium snail shell on the banks of the River Nervión may have little in common, yet the different ways in which the two galleries are looking ahead, architecturally speaking, are instructive.

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22 April 2022

In Llanystumdwy

It was David Lloyd George’s wish to be buried near Llanystumdwy, the village where he grew up, on the River Dwyfor in Gwynedd. The site and the setting for his grave were chosen in 1946, the year after he died, by his neighbour and friend, the architect Clough Williams-Ellis.

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30 March 2022

Pastures Grey

The little circular garden skyed high over the traffic flow on London Wall that currently leads to the entrance to the (soon to be relocated) Museum of London is to be reimagined as ‘The Meadow’. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York architects of the High Line, know a bit about bringing pasture into the city. They also designed Zaryadye Park, a.k.a. ‘Putin’s Paradise’, thirty-five acres of ‘wild urbanism’ in the middle of Moscow.

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22 February 2022

In Fishguard

Suspicions of invasion come in many guises, but the first sighting of four French vessels off Lundy Island, clearly signalling their intentions by the names of the two frigates, La Vengeance and La Resistance, presaged serious alarm. The last hostile invasion of mainland Britain took place in south-west Wales on 22 February 1797. For the bicentenary, the Fishguard Arts Society made a tapestry on the model of the one in Bayeux.

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7 October 2021

Over Sutton Hoo

The archaeological site of Sutton Hoo in coastal east Suffolk has ‘seen an overwhelming increase in interest’ since the release of the movie The Dig. The National Trust, the site’s guardian, has seized the opportunity to build a new viewing tower, a gossamer structure of latticed galvanised metal and slatted dark-stained timber which stands at the furthest end of the site. The aerial perspective you gain from the platform 17 metres up, together with an elegant explanatory plan etched into metal, transforms the scene from a bumpy stretch of heath into the royal burial ground of an Anglo-Saxon monarch and his immense retinue, a place of unmistakable, if masked, resonance.  

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19 March 2021

Destination Peabody

In central London you’re never far from buildings designed by Henry Astley Darbishire, the dependable architect of choice for philanthropic individuals and institutions in the second half of the 19th century. 

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