Thursday, 1 October 2009
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.