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I] INTRODUCTORY 5

proceeds much further, those of the various districts of England
may be described, in the same manner as has been done for one
district by Messrs Hughes and North in their excellent Old Cottages
of Snowdom'a. '

William Morris said that the homely old English cottages were
models of architecture in their way. They have been called
‘unarchitectural’ but all’s fair that’s fit, and they are valuable as
examples of the appropriate use of materials, as illustrations of
fitness to site and surroundings, and as specimens of architectural
development, for just as the finest man had his origin in a simple
cell, so the finest examples of our architecture can be traced back
in their origin, step by step, to simple ‘ unarchitectural ’ buildings.

The old farms and old cottages scattered up and down the land
possess an essential requirement of successful building in that they
appear to be part and parcel of the landscape. As Emerson wrote
of certain more important buildings, ‘These buildings grew as
grows the grass.’ The tile hanging of Kent, the brick nogging of
Hertfordshire, the timber and plaster of the Western Midlands, and
the stone walls and stone slates of ‘ the backbone of England ’ all
seem to be as much a part of the landscape as the hedges and the
trees, and yet it is unlikely that the beauty of these buildings was
apparent to their builders. Their beauty came as the spontaneous
product of the hands of their constructors, who were in a stage of
culture in which technical ability produces works of art naturally
and unconsciously, unlike the technically skilled workers of present
day civilisation, who can only design ‘works of art’ after much
training. Our smaller buildings became ugly when technique had
become highly skilled and the workers had mastered their materials
completely: this took place gradually and was accomplished about
the commencement of the present century. In this movement
to a higher culture stage, for such it is, free and compulsory
education for all has played no inconsiderable part, and the older
people, the survivors of the old order which is passing away, are
another valuable source of information as to the old methods of
construction. Much may be learned by conversation with them,
for in their young days building was not so highly specialised as it
is now, and it may sometimes be found that they have played their
part in the erection of the cottages in which they live.

Not only have the old ordinary buildings received more attention
in the literature of the Scandinavian countries than they have with

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