Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Buchanan House, St James's Square SW1

A costermonger sells fruit to a gaggle of children, the girls keeping a sharp eye on the money
being proffered by the younger of their brothers. Difficult to say what the fruit is - melon?
Buchanan House is dreadful really, the first modern building to break the Georgian skyline of St James's Square in a truly greedy way. The architecture makes the offence even worse by adopting a bland Queen Anne style, as if that could somehow make it fit in.
An organ grinder with his monkey.
They look at each other rather affectionately,
as if they are friends making music together.
It was opened in 1934 by Lord Astor, whose very grand town house was right next door (now it is the Naval and Military). He was rather gracious considering he had had to put up with two years construction and complete overshadowing of his garden to the south. "I only hope," he said, "you will not despise your old-fashioned and dingy friends, who still remain in the square. We will try not to be a nuisance."
What a doormat. No wonder the developers screwed him. He even made a little joke about being introduced at functions as 'the grandfather or husband of Lady Astor'.
A town crier announces:
"Oyez, Oyez
Take Notice
This Building
 was erected
 in the year 1933
Alfred and David Ospalak
being the Architects
A young woman sells lavender
 from a trug, assisted by her little girl.

But at least the architects had the good taste to employ Newbury Trent to carve a selection of Cries of London on the first floor. They are extremely charming in the neo-Georgian taste made popular by Rex Whistler.

A knife grinder pedaling away at his grindstone, putting an edge on a frighteningly large carving knife and occasionally whetting the stone from an urn mounted over it. The whole caboodle is mounted on wheels so it can be pushed from pitch to pitch. A small boy looks on, munching on a sandwich. His boiler suit is a bit of an anachronism, surely.


Cascadian said...

Judging by the apparent over-ripe fruit on the cart (above the smaller girls hand) I will guess a pomegranate.

Very nice detailing on all panels.

He Who Talks Bollocks said...

I agree with Cascadian. I would also like to add that the pomegranate is a Masonic symbol of unity. Does the building have any Masonic ties (the architects, developers, etc. etc. etc.?

kombizz said...

good capture