The Egyptian House
One of the most eccentric buildings stands in Chapel Street in Penzance, Cornwall. The curious Egyptian style façade of this Georgian house, built in 1836, is not at all in keeping with other ancient buildings in this street. It is now in the care of the Landmark Trust.
In 1840, John Marshall of Leeds, commissioned Ignatius Bonhomi (who had been in Egypt) and David Roberts (an author of books on Egypt) to build a new mill for him in Holbeck , Leeds. It is a replica of the Egyptian Temple of Edfu on the Nile and is said to have cost £250,000. The outside columns are surmounted by lotus flowers. The mill chimney was shaped like Cleopatra’s Needle, although it has been demolished.
The roof of the building had sixty six glass domes to give adequate light and earth was spread between them on which grass was grown for insulation. It is said that Marshall kept a flock of sheep on the roof to keep the grass short!
St Pauls House
This amazing building in St Pauls Street, Leeds was built in 1878 by clothier John Barran, who pioneered the mass production of ready made clothing. It was to a design known as Arabic-Saracenic style and is topped by minarets with an ornamental quatrefoil parapet and octagonal turrets. It was really just a planned clothing factory.
The building was completely modernised in 1977 to provide office space.
Brewood is a small market town in Staffordshire and on the corner of the Market Place stands the curiously named Speedwell Castle. It is actually a very fine Gothic town house of the mid 18th century. It is said that the house was built from the winnings of a racehorse called Speedwell which belonged to the Duke of Bolton. The double tower frontage and the ogival windows and door do give the building a castle like appearance and it is said that the interior boasts a Chippendale staircase in the Chinese manner.
A palatial pigsty
In the late 1880’s, Squire Barry of Fyling Hall, Fylingthorpe near Whitby in North Yorkshire, decided to build a pigsty. Apparently the Squire has no particular style in mind but just made it up as work progressed. The building took the form of a Grecian Temple with a portico and pillar, Egyptian style windows and a fluted frieze. Even the drainpipes were ornate.
This fine building has been completely restored and converted for us as a holiday home.
Lodge Park Grandstand
This unique survival of a Grandstand and Deer Course on the Sherborne Park Estate in the Cotswolds is now in the care of the National Trust. It was created in 1634 by the gregarious owner of Sherborne House, John ‘Crump’ Dutton for the benefit of his guests. The guests would be greeted at this fascinating stately grandstand where, after they had feasted, they would adjourn to the balcony or indeed the rooftop viewing area to gamble on the spectacle before them.
Deer coursing was a fast and furious sport which was popular with Henry V111. The walled course at Lodge Park was one mile long and at the start a mongrel would ‘tease’ the fallow deer out onto the course to provoke a race. Two powerful hounds would then compete in the chase along the course which narrowed from 200 to 90 metres. A ditch marked the finishing line, followed by a second ditch too wide for the hounds to leap, allowing the quarry to survive. However, should one of the punters place a £20 bet, this would warrant a ‘fleshing course’ in other words a kill!
A La Ronde
In 1798, two cousins, Miss’s Jane and Mary Parminter, were so impressed by the Byzantine church of San Vitale in Ravenna which they had visited whilst doing a ‘grand tour’ that they built a curious round house on land overlooking Exmouth in Devon. The house, which actually has 16 sides, was probably designed for them by a relative and the cousins furnished it with collected treasures, especially shells, for which they constructed a special gallery in the roof. Originally thatched, the cousins intended that the house would only pass to female descendants, but in 1883 it was inherited by a clergyman who made substantial alterations to it when the roof was tiled and dormer windows were fitted. The house was lived in until the mid 20th century when it and many curious contents was purchased by the National Trust.
The Text House
The Text House in the main street at Denholm near Hawick in the Scottish Borders is an unusual building, quite out of keeping with its neighbours, which was erected by a local eccentric, Dr Haddon. He also embellished the sides of the unusual bay window with four texts within diamond surrounds : ‘TAK TENT IN TIME’ - ‘ALL WAS OTHERS’ – ‘ERE TIME BE TINT’ – ‘ALL WILL BE OTHERS’.