In my latest post looking at the architecture of our home county town of Shrewsbury, I want to take a look at what Jude The Undergardener and I both consider as our favourite building here – Rowleys Mansion.
Mr William Rowley was a merchant in Shrewsbury during the reign of Elizabeth I. He made the fortune as a brewer and draper that allowed him to build this magnificent house.Sadly his home now sits surrounded by car parks and must be trembling in every oak beam as buses and trucks pass close by. How can this happen to such a special building? It is an insult to its beauty, its heritage and all the people who have lived in it, worked in it and visited it over centuries. It is currently temporarily housing the town’s Tourist Information Centre as The Music Hall, its full-time home, is being revamped.
Close up we can see the structure and clues to the construction methods used centuries ago. From this angle we see a huge half-timbered building but as we shall soon discover another entirely different buildings has been built onto it. The huge mighty strong oak beams support the whole structure and these were pegged together.
We consider graffiti as a modern-day phenomena that is spoiling our environment, but this is untrue. A close look at this ancient building reveals a history of graffiti. Some of these may be marks left by carpenters or construction workers as the old mansion was built.
This solid heavy-looking door is topped with an oak lintel and below this lintel lies a strip of narrow tile infill, an interesting textural contrast.
Some of the details such as the iron tie and this little coloured glass window deserve a close up look.
But what of the other building attached to the old timbered mansion? It is the earliest brick-built building in Shrewsbury and at the time it was built it would have been considered a pioneering material and was used to impress. William Rowley added the mansion to show off his increased wealth.
Look closely and the textures of the construction materials create interesting cameos.
At the opposite end of the buildings from the wooden door we looked at early on in this post is the main doorway giving access to the brick building. This old oak door stands within a stone frame with beautiful carved detailing. This is an impressive doorway which says “I have made it!”, the equivalent of today’s big cars!
Let us finish with another view of Rowleys Mansion – the half-timbered end.