Friday, 27 September 2013

The Drill Hall, Chenies Street WC1

Soldiers used to look like soldiers in Victorian times, when they had an empire to subdue. 
The Drill Hall was designed in 1882 for the Bloomsbury Rifles by Samuel Knight, a captain in the regiment. It is appropriately military in style, with a tower topped by play-battlements. 
But the details that give most pleasure are the soldiers heads under the drip mouldings over the windows. A stirring display of military headgear and martial face-fungus.The fearsome warrior pictured above is clearly bound for some hot country - as the building was under construction the news was all of the British invasion of Egypt.
All the heads are different, showing the enormous variety of military uniforms of the day. Such a contrast with the drab utilitarianism of the universal beret of today.
Note how the heads become smaller (and therefore cheaper) the further up the building they are. 

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