Thursday, 1 October 2009

Wellington Shoots

Recently seen on Midsomer Murders, this is Wellington College near Crowthorne in Berkshire. It stood in as a dodgy university with people in those funny crash helmets cycling all over the inner quadrangle whilst the usual surfeit of corpses piled up in the surrounding countryside. I spent a lot of time working here last year, but was continually drawn to the south elevation. On this occasion it's about eight o'clock on a summer's morning, after a very early start and a hearty breakfast with yawning masters. Founded in 1853 as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington, who'd died the year before, it opened six years later. So this year sees its 150th anniversary. Pevsner thought the building highly important in the history of Victorian architecture, and it's one of those eyecatching structures you just can't stop looking at. Originally intended for the orphaned children of military servicemen, the entire first intake ran off in fright across the then bare heathy landscape after just a week. Now it's a 'vibrant and popular co-educational boarding and day school where girls and boys learn to be leaders for life'. And presumably how to avoid Inspector Barnaby.

20 comments:

Diplomate said...

ah yes - college movie stars, how about Cheltenham College as used by Lindsay Anderson.

Toby Savage said...

Gosh Peter. I thought that was your house!

Peter Ashley said...

Diplo: Ah yes ...if, one the finest English public school films. A superb script by Derek Sherwin, classic photography by Miroslav Ondricek and of course Mr.Anderson directing in his trademark red shirt and black leather jacket.

Toby: I've just put an offer in.

Sue said...

Oooh, I don't know...it's got a bit of that asylum look about it. Could be the proximity to Broadmoor.
Did you see the beautiful nearby Wellingtonia Avenue?

Peter Ashley said...

Yes indeed I did Sue. Incredibly impressive, and planted at the same time the college was built I think.

martin said...

You mention that you spent a lot of time working here last year.
With whom,and on what? None of my business,but some of us are just naturally curious.

Peter Ashley said...

Photographing the buildings, gardens and, oh yes, the pupils, for their 150th Anniversary book.

Philip Wilkinson said...

What a corker! An architectural split personality, part Wren-revival, part-French (think M Mansard and his roofs), but none the worse for that.

martin said...

Nice job!

accountant said...

The first intake probably did a runner in protest at the architecture. Being more of a Georgian in spirit I'm inclined to think the Victorians were better engineers than architects. How appropriate to have an avenue of Wellingtonias, which I think were introduced to Britain in the 1850s/1860s.

Diplomate said...

It is interesting that Wellington, being a purpose built college has suffered less from ghastly, ill-conceived additions than many an institutionalised country house.

Peter Ashley said...

You're right of course. There are are obviously new buildings here, but mercifully they are all cleverly tucked away to one side, So from every sightline the original college appears intact. Particularly appealing is to arrive here as I did very early one morning and see the entire bulk of the building rising above a mist lying across the playing fields, for all the world like a castle in the clouds

Ron Combo said...

From what I heard it wasn't only the south elevation you were drawn to.

Toby Savage said...

Funny Ron. I thought the expression was 'Heading North'.

Bucks Retronaut said...

Your reference to Castles in the Clouds, Peter put me immediately in mind of Waddesdon Manor which pokes its many turreted chateau like roofline above a densely wooded hilltop,best seen from the Ashendon to Westcott road.
And then I thought of the illustration on the old tins of Gibbs Dentifrice.......I think the advertising strapline was something to do with Ivory Castles .
And wasn`t some of "If" shot at Lancing College ? No pun intended ,but I was under the impression that Travis machine gunned Authority fron the chapel roof ?
Thanks anyway for dusting off my mental cobwebs yet again.

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou for reminding me about the Gibbs tins, Bucks. Round tins of tooth powder in at least three colourways- red, green, blue and a white for Chlorophyll. Given separate colours so that children could identify their own tin, which cost 9d in the 50s.

Bucks Retronaut said...

Was Cully doing anything there?

Peter Ashley said...

Do you know Bucks, Cully is the main reason I watch it. I go to bed and weep bitter tears of resentment if she isn't in it.

Bucks Retronaut said...

I know what you mean Peter.
What unhinged me rather more than somewhat was the apparition of Wanda Ventham in the role of a fortune telling gipsy,living in a campervan on the green at The Lee in one of the episodes.
Since then I always seem to take a detour from the A413 on my way back from the smoke in the hope of getting my fortune told.

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