Visiting Browick Road School, Wymondham, Norfolk, England: sedate, Victorian Gothic dating from 1876
Red brick- and stonework artfully combined
At Browick Road, in Wymondham (pronounced: "Windham"), Norfolk, a school building is noted for its architectural distinction. Dating from 1876, its style is Gothic, common in the Victorian era.
The use of stone in combination with the main red brick building material is particularly interesting and, again, not uncommon in Victorian buildings. Significantly, here at Browick Road School the stonework is used in two distinct ways: not only to provide the tracery for its large, pointed windows, but also in supplying horizontal linear design motifs along the building's Browick Road elevation. Interestingly, the use of exposed, concrete slabs to provide a functional, linear motif is a more modern technique which has been employed on some buildings to arguably good effect (e.g., as at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, for example, where the exposed slabs form the flooring); but here at Browick Road we see a not unusual instance of thin, elongated, horizontal stonework used as a linear device clearly for design as opposed to substantially structural purposes.
While in Canada, a Victorian Gothic building dating from the 1870s might be regarded as a fairly significant piece of architectural heritage, it must be said that England is fortunate in having many 19th century buildings: but here is the catch! in England, so many architecturally worthy structures have disappeared under developers' plans, whereas a greater proportion of similar buildings in Canada would probably have been preserved for posterity for their heritage value.
In its early days, Browick Road School served as the main school in Wymondham (1), but for many decades it has been an infants' school, given the establishment of other secondary schools in the area. It still stands on the rural edge of the town; for context I have supplied, above right, a photo of a scene close to Browick Road.
September 30, 2015
(1) Following Forster's Education Act, 1870, the state school sector in England and Wales was substantially expanded, retaining for the Church of England more of an influence than is generally the case in state schools today. (In England — not Wales — the Church of England is still established; and many state schools are still linked with it, although it is fair to say that the religious element of its influence has been considerably diluted.) Despite the high-minded idealism which motivated many Victorian educational reformers, it is arguable that prosaic reasons were paramount for the government's promotion and expansion of the state school sector in the 1870s: Imperialist politicians saw with increasing alarm the power and influence of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War and perceived the need for the nation's youth to be more resilient in the face of a rising power on the Continent; and business owners were also keen to maintain Great Britain's world trade supremacy, which a better taught workforce would supposedly ensure. In short, Victorian politicians and industrialists wanted British young people to be better soldiers and more productive workers than their German counterparts!
NB: A note on pronunciation: While in standard English the pronunciation of 'Browick' is quite predictable, the Norfolk accent of local people is sometimes hard for outsiders to follow and this two syllable word is sometimes pronounced with one syllable only, and with a glottal stop at the end of the work in place of a consonant, thus: " Bro:' " Do not be put off by this, if asking for directions from local people!
Some sourcing: Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
In Wymondham itself, the partly ruined Wymondham Abbey, with its two, conspicuous towers, was founded by William d'Albini Senior in 1107. Becket Chapel in the town was founded by William d'Albini Junior in 1174; the town's Market Cross dates from the 17th century and is another well preserved landmark.
Norwich (distance: 15 kilometres) has so many visitor attractions, too numerous to mention adequately, but a few of these include Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral, with its enormous spire, Norwich Guildhall, Pull's Ferry, Elm Hill, Bishop's Bridge; and many others.
How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Wymondham 's rail links to London include those to Liverpool Street Station, via Cambridge. Wymondham is 206 kilometers from Heathrow Airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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