Travels with Pevsner: “As if a place like Brierley Hill needed any flats”

PevsnerNot sure what to make of Brierley Hill’s entries in Pevsner’s ‘The Buildings of England’.  The Staffordshire volume (1974), the last of 46, covers the Brierley Hill area.  Two comments caused me to raise my eyebrows.

In the foreword, Pevsner acknowledges the help of Edward Hubbard who had planned the routes for Pevsner to take when he surveyed buildings throughout Staffordshire…”taking in his stride such obstacles as the Black Country and the Potteries”.  An obstacle!!! how dare he!  Still an interesting outsider’s view illustrating how our sub-region is perceived.

In the Brierley Hill section of the work six local buildings have merited inclusion.

The first of these is St Michael’s church.  The entry (p80) reads:

ST MICHAEL, Church Street. 1765. Brick. The w tower resorted and largely rebuilt in 1900.  The top is hardly facsimile. Side of four bays with the two middle ones projecting and pedimented.  Two tiers of windows, arched below and small and segment-arched about. Brick quoins. The chancel more ornate inside.  it must belong to the restoration of 1873-88. The church faces ten new high blocks of flats. As if a place like Brierley Hill needed any. (My emphasis)

What on earth did he mean by that? “As if a place like Brierley Hill needed any”?

There’s no explanation and Pevsner went to his grave in 1983 so I suppose that the remark will be forever unexplained.  How odd though.

For the record the other entries (also p80) are:

CHRISTCHURCH, High Street, Quarry Bank. By Thomas Smith, 1845-6. A Commissioners’ church. Yellow brick, lancet Gothic transepts, chancel of 1900. Thin hammerbeam roof.

ST JOHN, High Street, Brockmoor. by Thomas Smith, 1844-5. Also a Commissioners’ church. Neo-Norman, of plum and yellow brick. Bellcote; no tower. Transecpts and a short chancel.

(ST JOHN, Dudley Wood. 1931 by Sir Charles Nicholson. GR)

ST MARY (R.C.), High Street, E of the parish church. 1872-3 by E.W. Pugin. Brick, nave and chancel in one; no tower. Windows to the (rituals) s with plate tracery. A typical asymmetrical, busy E.W.P. front, and inside typical of E.W.P. capitals.

and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly:

CIVIC BUILDINGS, Bank Street. Of brick, large and not symmetrical. by J.P. Moore, early fifties to 1962.

Pensnett also has an entry, again a church:

ST MARK, High Street. 1846-9 by J.M. Derick. A large, serious, decidedly High Victorian building.  it cost £6,700. Small ashlar, with a transept and an unfortunately incomplete s tower.  Mainly lancet windows. Round piers, high nave with clerestory, high chancel. – STAINED GLASS. The E window probably of c.1850.

 

Links

Nikolaus Pevsner – Wikipedia

E. W. Pugin

Church Commissioners – Wikipedia

List of commissioners churches in the English Midlands – Wikipedia

Brierley Hill Team – covering local churches

 

 

 

 

 

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