Tuesday 20 October 2009

Croydon Public Library, Katharine Street CR9

Croydon's library is part of a classic late-Victorian municipal complex built in 1892, consisting of a council chamber, offices, public meeting rooms, library, a corn exchange (it is difficult to appreciate that Croydon was still a market town) and, of course, a monster clock tower expressing the borough's virility.
The overall architect was Charles Henman Jr, who employed a number of sculptors to embellish the design.
J Wenlock Rollins was commissioned to carve a full length statue of Croydon's most famous and generous resident, Archbishop Whitgift.
He is portrayed seated, wearing a gown, ruff and flat hat. He thoughtfully turns the page of a book on his lap. A rather contemplative study of the man who ruthlessly enforced Queen Elizabeth's power over the newly Protestant Church of England.
It is, unfortunately, rather worn and deserves to be gently recut.
Rollins also contributed an attractive carving of two scholarly nudists in the pediment over the library's front door. They recline back-to-back against an urn filled with fruit, one reading Poetry and the other Prose.


Anonymous said...

Enjoy reading thru your site. Here is a site on this side of the pond about building I though you would enjoy. http://stlouismosaic.blogspot.com/

Chris Partridge said...

Thanks, Anon. I like your site too - it is many years since I visited St Louis briefly, and was very impressed by the city.