Wednesday, April 4


Westminster Cathedral - "Improved"?

I have somewhat mixed architectural feelings about London's grand Byzantine pile. In a previous post, I mentioned my wish that they had provided the sanctuary or crossing with a more lofty dome; though my concerns about the front facade are answered by the fact that the original design faced out onto a fairly narrow street, and was never meant to be seen at a great distance. Indeed, it's a quite clever response to such a forced perspective.

Still, the domes are curiously flat to my taste; the building has a brilliant interior but its exterior, while striking with its stripes, could use a little more height now that it's a bit more exposed withn the city's context. So I was surprised to discover an unknown architect of the period had similar misgivings, and wrote a whole book on the subject.

It was all a bit of crankish overkill, probably with emnities partially worsened by the exotic foreignness that clung to the whole project from the start. Still, his proposed remedies are fascinating both for their mixture of brilliance and utter wrongheadedness. Domes--we like domes here, mostly (though their proposed profile is less Byzantine than Persian); but shearing off the top of the belltower to make it more "Gothic"? Huh? Surely thou dost eat of the ergot. It looks like a factory chimney once you take the cupola off. Anyway, read on here, at Msgr. Langham's wonderful blog.

Also, happy Spy Wednesday!

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