Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Egyptian Houses of the West Country

When I was little we used to go on holiday to West Penwith (still one of my favourite places in the world) and we used to go into Penzance to feed my fossil and mineral collecting obsession. One of the things I strongly remember is The Egyptian House on Chapel Street in the town centre. I drove down to West Penwith last week - something I do at least once a month for a clear my head constitutional, and stopped off in Penzance to stop and have a look and take a couple of photos.

Built in 1835 to house the mineral collection of bookseller John Lavin, it was actually originally two cottages. The height was raised and this amazing facade put on. There was an Egyptian trend post late 18th century and Napoleon's Egyptian campaigns, and many buildings were built with Egyptian features, but this is a whole other level and no one knows who designed it and what really influenced Lavin. These days The Landmark Trust owns a flat in it which you can rent for holidays.

Coincidentally I recently discovered another Egyptian house in the middle of a bombed and rebuilt modern estate in Devonport - the docks area of Plymouth. So at the end of last week I went back and took photos of the somewhat odd phenomena that is Odd Fellows Hall on Kerr Street.

Built in 1823 to the designs of John Foulston, this time definitely after the Napoleonic campaign trend, Odd Fellows Hall is a strange gem in an area which also houses the mysterious neo-classical bakehouse. I love Plymouth for its strangeness and tucked away oddities like this. I thoroughly recommend an explore around Devonport. You can find out more about the Egyptian House and the area here . I think it's a social club now, but it still has fabulous Egyptian doors and other interior features.

Here's a photo of the mysterious bakehouse too:

The pillar beside it I think is a memorial for a school bombed during the war. Most of this area was wiped out. My granny was born in Plymouth and Mum has great tales from her of how different it looked before the war - I wish I could have seen it...