AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, my thoughts turn to London. I used to go there often, usually in November when air fares dropped. On my last visit, I went to the City of London Museum and saw a huge exhibition on the Great Fire of 1666. What I remember most was the exquisite garnet and gold jewelry that had been buried in people’s backyards as the fire raged, and was later excavated. The jewelry was so fine that it struck me anew how advanced, in some ways, civilization was in those medieval days, lack of indoor plumbing notwithstanding.
I became fascinated with the remnants of London’s pre-fire architecture, much of it located in the area around Bishopsgate and made of stone.
On December 2, the New Medieval & Renaissance Galleries will open at the Victoria and Albert Museum — ten rooms of material chronologically arranged from 300 to 1600 AD. Among the highlights: the façade of Sir Paul Pindar’s timber-framed house, top, a rare survivor of the Great Fire.
Sir Paul Pindar’s house in the 1860s
Here’s some backstory:
In 1597, Sir Paul Pindar, a tobacco merchant and financier with connections to James I and Charles I, bought several properties just outside London’s city walls. In this area, he built a new three-and-a-half-story house. To the left, the older existing properties were adapted to form part of an impressive new frontage. To the right, a gateway led down the side of the house. Between these, Pindar built a new bay, above, and it is this that has survived…
In 1890, the property was demolished to make room for the expansion of Liverpool Street Station, but fortunately, the façade was recognized as an architectural rarity and presented to the V&A.
To read more about the house and the New Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, go here.