Magdalen Road at night

Magdalen Road at night
December 2010

Friday, 9 September 2011

Have you ever looked at features on walls, roofs and facades in St Leonard’s?

Scattered around the neighbourhood there are numerous little decorations which add sparkle to the fronts of the houses here. I am sure that most people who walk along Wonford Road will have seen the matching pair of eagles on the roof of a pair of houses (which are, according to an old map, Bellair Villas). Between them there is a rabbit. Close by there is a weather vane featuring a cat. Now, where are there other weather vanes around here? Exeter School cricket pavilion has one, the main building of The Maynard School has another. Private ones include a traditional cockerel in Victoria Park Road, and, close by, one showing a man.

To add to the menagerie there is a lion on a roof in Lyndhurst Road, and a squirrel on a wall in St Leonard’s Road. If you walk or cycle through Baring Crescent you may notice that there is a white nude in a niche of one of the houses, while Fairpark Road has a house with carved faces on the façade.
In Colleton Crescent, there are more carved faces above the doorways. These are made of Coade stone, like many of the decorations in Southernhay. Coade stone takes its name from Eleanor Coade, who was born in Exeter in 1733. She invented this form of stoneware which was widely used on the houses of the wealthy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was used by several famous architects of the time, including Robert Adam and John Nash. And there are several monuments to famous people made of Coade stone, including the statue of King George III at Weymouth.
While you are exploring in the area of Colleton Crescent, notice the iron linkholders in front of some of the houses, and then it is worth strolling into the west end of Lucky Lane and looking at the rear of the buildings in Colleton Crescent where there is one with a fine pair of pilasters. The linkholders date from the days when servants carried flaming links (torches) to light the way for their employers at night.

Many of the houses in Franklin Street and Roberts Road have carved stone lintels over the front doors. But look closely at those in Franklin Street. Two are a different shape. (Were these houses originally more expensive?) Although at first sight the terraced houses are identical, there are numerous variations in the brick facades. The builders knew that terraces do not have to be monotonous!

There are more examples of carved and decorated brickwork in other parts of the neighbourhood. Stop in Denmark Road and look at the decorations on the west side of Maynard School. You will need to stop, because you will have to peer through the trees. There’s more carved brickwork, more readily visible, opposite St Luke’s in Magdalen Road and on the Mount Radford Inn.

Have you noticed the carved flowers and plants on the first floor frieze of Gibson’s Plaice?

Finally, there are some modern features to be seen. What a variety of shapes and sizes there are for television and radio aerials! There are still a few VHF TV aerials which have never been removed since the days when television was in black and white and there was a choice of BBC or ITV. These aerials are shaped like an X or an H. Modern aerials have a series of bars on either side of a directional bar, pointing to one or other of the local TV transmitters. The essential design is known as a Yagi antenna (or Yagi-Uda to honour both its Japanese inventors). The detailed shape varies considerably. And then there are satellite dishes of many shapes and sizes, all carefully aligned for the communication satellites over the equator. A few houses also have external radio aerials to improve reception on VHF.
Detail of bow windows at The Lodge in Spicer Road

No comments:

Post a Comment