Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Let brotherly love continue

The title above is the motto of the worshipful company of plaisterers and I had the pleasure of attending the CMA conference which was held last week at Plaisterers Hall which is in the City right opposite the Museum of london. The building only dates from 1972 (and has a very modern brand new office block directly above it at one London Wall so it has probably had the "Criterion treatment" where special elements were preserved within the fabric.) but the interior feels much older

A Plaisterer is a decorative plasterer and I have had a fascination with fibrous plaster in theatres so I knew a visit there would be of particular interest. They were originally given a charter in 1501 and helped form the well known "City & Guilds" Institute. Their heraldic shield looks rather fierce with what we first took to be battle-axes but it seems they are actually trowel and hammers along with plasterers brush, essential for the art or mystery of daubers. You can see it here, click on history.

Their original charters are on display in the foyer and were fascinating, if somewhat difficult to read.

The main hall I guessed (correctly) as a reconstruction rather than being original. However what I took to be a pastiche of Louis XIV & Regency style is actually based on the works (and even some moulds) of Robert Adam who is well known for numerous reconstructions including Osterley, Syon Park and the Admiralty.

Indeed I think of Adam's interiors the way that beautifully laid out gardens infer the touch of Capability Brown (who I had forgotten was called Lancelot).

Some tantalising photos of Plaisterer's Hall can be found on the Web here. The main hall has three magnificent crystal chandeliers to die for and all of the rooms (apart from the rather bland Mott room) have a style of their own. The 21st century has mostly been kept at bay visually, although the plain access door onto the minstrel gallery in the main hall probably has a health & safety officer just itching to put a "fire door-keep closed" sticker on it!

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