Friday, 2 November 2007

Kirby Grips


Sometimes a building takes hold of you for many reasons, beyond the initial acts of appreciating architecture or landscape. Kirby Hall in north east Northamptonshire is probably the one 'heritage' building I've visited more than any other. It helps by being only a few miles from the two homes I've occupied over the last eleven years. Alone in the fields near Corby (the wretched Rockingham Raceway looms on the horizon) you approach it as if in a dream, finally walking down a rook-haunted avenue of chestnuts to the Weldon stone gateways. On the surface this is an Elizabethan prodigy with gables, obelisks and chimneys against the sky- started by Sir Humphrey Stafford in 1570, finished by Elizabeth's favourite Sir Christopher Hatton. In recent years many will have seen it, but probably not recognised it, as a film location: Mansfield Park, A Christmas Carol and A Cock and Bull Story. Inside, the bare wooden floors and the stunning curves of the bowed-windows are for me the backgrounds to thirty years of happy memories: girls sitting in window seats looking out over the fields, little children stamping their echoing feet from room to room. If you want a test bed for, say, a new relationship, and you love this sort of thing, then Kirby Hall is a good laboratory. If you've never been, get to grips with it soon.

4 comments:

Justin Savage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Savage said...

What I meant to say before I hit the 'publish' key too soon: a lovely piece, and I didn't see the "get to grips with it soon" kicker until I was right on top of it. Ooh! Top stuff.

Philip Wilkinson said...

What a marvellous photograph of a sunlit house seemingly emerging from the landscape. Kirby's wonderfully sprawling quality sets it apart from most of the other "prodigy houses" – Hardwick, Longleat, and Wollaton, though all extraordinary in their different ways, are all very tightly planned and look very premeditated. Kirby has this improvized quality, as if being made up on the spot with all the casual brilliance that the courtier was meant to exhibit.

Peter Ashley said...

Ooh, I do like that last sentence Philip. Can't wait to try that out on somebody. With a little copyright symbol in front of it,of course.