Thursday 10 September 2009

Park Village West, Regent's Park NW1

John Nash more or less invented town planning at Regent's Park, with its public open spaces, private houses grouped together to look like palaces and service roads concealed round the back.
And in 1824, right at the end of his life, he invented the suburb in the two small groups of houses he built on either side of the canal to the north of the park. Detached and semi-detached villas with small gardens are huddled just a little too closely together, creating the maximum effect at the minimum of cost, a formula followed by developers to this day.
No 12 is everyone's favourite, with its octagonal tower topped by deep overhanging eaves.
Over the door is a relief of the Roman harvest goddess Ceres, who carries a sickle and a cornucopia spreading a rich harvest of fruit over the earth. She should really have a sheaf of wheat as she gave her name to cereals and anyway, if it were not to harvest wheat why is she carrying a sickle?

1 comment:

Capability Bowes said...

Ceres is actually Goddess of the Harvest (or of Plenty), not just of cereal crops, so the cornucopia is entirely appropriate, as the harvest obviously contains autumn fruits as well. She's the elder sister of Flora, Goddess of Spring (and flowers), and mother of Prosperpine (or Persephone), a demi-goddess of Spring. Ceres' male counterpart is Priapus, God of Fertility, usually portrayed with a stonking great phallus and therefore FAR too risque for Ornamental Passions! There's a herm of Priapus on the boundary wall of one of the houses of Vincent Square in SW1 but objections were raised by the neighbours to a sculpture of Priapus in all his *ahem* glory so the sculptor replaced the offending parts with a pair of gardening shears instead!