Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hail The Three Little Pigs


(Stone wall, Mont St. Michel, France, 2008)

A stone or brick house is the ultimate refuge from the Big Bad Wolf: strong, impregnable and protective. I have long felt a powerful love for dwellings fashioned from these elements and for the images and feelings they inspire: a safe haven against the fierce outside world, a tangible evocation of romance and a palpable connection to a long-distant past.

In choosing stones and bricks as our materials, we are able to build houses like my son builds his Legos -- in ceaseless shapes and variations and colors. Whether stacked painstakingly on top of one another according to a precise plan...
(A Voysey house, South Kensington, London, 2008)

...or added onto haphazardly over generations and then abandoned...
(Stone and brick cottage, Scotland, 2007)

the results are the same: a unique monument to individuality which lies in sharp contrast to the increasingly anonymous poured-concrete-and-steel world we live in today.
(Macchu Picchu dwelling, 2007)

The house below I am convinced is enchanted. After years of walking through Hyde Park (I could swear along the same pathways), suddenly one day it appeared in front of me, nestled in a thicket of trees, looking as if it had just escaped from 1850's Barsetshire.
(Cottage, Hyde Park, London, 2008)

Built centuries ago, some buildings seem to vibrate with the pulse of countless ghostly inhabitants, but I don't find them spooky in the least.
(Bruges, Belgium, 2008)

On the contrary, I like to think that each generation of inhabitants (no matter how small) adds a new layer of character to their dwelling...
( A children's manor house, Normandy, France, 2008)

...and that with the lapping caresses of time, we are lucky enough to behold them today, swathed in a well-worn patina of charm.
(Scottish cottage, Loch Lomond, 2008)

Just as the best cooking pans are the ones which have been seasoned through the enjoyment of endless meals, so are the best houses the ones which have been enriched to perfection through generations of lives well lived.
(Farmhouse, Normandy, 2008)

As one of my great heroes, Winston Churchill, so eloquently remarked, "We shape our buildings. Thereafter, they shape us."

17 comments:

Modern Traditionalist said...

What a delightful post. I've always wanted to live in a home with ancient (or at least ancient for the new-ish US) stone wall. There are plenty to be found around Northern Virginia.
And oh what I would've done for that Children's Manor in France. As a child I begged and prayed for a playhouse in our backyard but all I got was a cardboard house in the basement.

Rocio said...

So very true. I believe they do have a soul. And they are always welcoming, like an old aunt who invites you for an afternoon coffee and home baked biscuits.
Lovely post.

Laura [What I Like] said...

I think Winston Churchill is the singularly most quotable figure in history. What a brilliant sentiment.

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

Great post. Made me homesick for England and the beautifully handmade stone walls that farmers used to build. Do you remember them? We're currently landscaping our back garden in San Francisco and are using stone from France! Love it.

Simply Mel said...

If only today's architects could shape their work to Churchill's brilliant words, it might just provide our world with more stone and earth friendly/complimentary buildings than what we currently have to look upon and live within.

VictoriaArt said...

So true, beautiful examples!

Jane said...

Well I love stone, and we have a few (newbuilt but trying to look old) stone walls, for sitting and thinking in our garden. Here the roads in the west of Victoria are lined with drystone bluestone walls built by convicts. Still there 160 years later (and heritage protected) BUT somehow a bit blood stained to me. Love the manor house in Normandy. Oh and Winston as well. How I would have loved to have spent the weekend with him. You would need a weekend I think, not just a dinner.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful analogy... the well-seasoned pan, the well-seasoned home.

Lily said...

Ours is a wooden cottage from the 1870's and I do think the walls of horsehair plaster can talk! Just have to press an ear firmly up to the right spot... Although I love the solid permanence of wood and stone, there is something terribly gypsy-romantic about those fabulous live aboard barges in Paris. And I remember seeing a photo of an interior of one of Peter Beard's elaborately decorated tents at Hog Ranch in Kenya and had endless daydreams about THAT too...

ruth said...

Beautiful. I've always wanted to live in an old stone house. Buildings then were built to last. It seems to me that nowadays, at least here in our society, they are built like an office cubicle. Once it no longer works for the times, it must be redone or torn down.

pve design said...

Did you ever think of being a "spokesperson" at a stately home or cottage? You would surely be the best guide. I have always admired the passion you exude for stone, brick and mortar. You huff and you puff so eloquently, all from your chinny chin chin!

By the way, you make me want to be your personal artist. I can hear you saying, "Now sketch that one" and then bring me tea with toast and jam.
pve

Angie Muresan said...

I want a manor house just like those French kids have!

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Des said...

What an interesting post. Thank you for sharing this.

Val said...

Lovely, lovely pictures. For me, every building as a story and a sense of being in it. I love that I am not the first or the last person to live in my home...there is over a hundred years of gentle ghosts who linger in every piece of carved woodwork, every inch of smoothed plaster, and every pane of wavey glass.

prashant said...

As a child I begged and prayed for a playhouse in our backyard but all I got was a cardboard house in the basement.

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