The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, and Middlesex in the Spring of 1840

Harlaxton composition

Previous - Next

When this house is completed, the interior arrangements will be found not less admirable than the exterior elevations. In the principal floor there is no space lost in passages, and no part that is not thoroughly lighted, and a great deal of handsome interior scenic effect produced. The drainage; provision for the supply of hot and cold water, of hot air, and of hot-water pipes for heating the conservatories; the arrangements for supplying coals to different floors, for disposing of the bell-wires so as they may be easily repaired, for conveying all the offensive parts of the service of the bed-room floors to an appropriate room in the ground floor without passing through the parallel floors; and various other details of this kind, have been all kept in view and studied when forming the design, and all carefully attended to in the execution. It may be worth while to notice the mode in which the coals are supplied to, and cinders removed from, the different rooms; because, though it cannot be copied, except in similar situations, it may be imitated in the case of many large mansions by inclined planes carried up in towers (A great defect in the groups of buildings composing the dwelling-house and domestic offices in the country residences of Britain is, the want of symmetry, either regular or irregular. Regular symmetry, whether bilateral, quadrilateral, or polygonal, can only be given when the house is building; but the effect of irregular symmetry, or picturesque symmetry, as it may be called, can be given to any group of buildings, however scattered, by the addition of a tower which shall rise more or less above the highest part of the general masses. The good effect of such a tower, rising from a straggling group of buildings, is felt by every one who has the slightest taste for landscape composition; and to understand why it has this good effect, it is only necessary to reflect on what symmetry is, and what are its effects. Every symmetrical object consists of a centre, or axis, and of sides, and the use of the one side being the repetition of the other is merely to assist the eye in recognising the composition as a whole, which in regular symmetry it very readily does. When the one side is not a repetition of the other, a whole can only be recognised in the composition by the discovery of the centre, or axis; which being done, the spectator imagines the sides to be arranged round it in some suitable manner, though he may not clearly see it. Now, in all irregular piles having a high tower, this axis is seen at once. Hence the great use of towers in point of effect, and they may always be rendered useful; sometimes, when small, as clock or bell towers; when large, as staircases or inclined planes, communicating with other parts of the building; sometimes as prospect towers, as summer sleeping-rooms for servants, as fireproof rooms for valuable papers, &c. The axis of symmetry at Harlaxton is the bell-tower, directly over the frontispiece, which is the first object that attracts the notice of the distant spectator, and from which his eye is led downwards, and to the right and left; while the masses first, and the leading details afterwards, are gradually recognised, and ultimately, as he advances along the approach, the whole entrance-front developes itself in all its majesty and beauty. No house or other building, and even no landscape or other view, can ever produce a striking effect on the spectator when seen for the first time, in which the axis of symmetry is not a leading feature. The reason is, - without the conspicuous presence of this axis, the view cannot so readily be recognised as a whole.). The house at Harlaxton being situated on the side of a steep hill, that part of the offices containing the coals is to be on a level with the upper floor of the house; and from this coal-house to each floor railways within the house will be formed, along which the coal will be conveyed in small railway carriages, and dropped in suitable places of deposit, whence they can be taken as wanted for the service of every floor. We have noticed in Vol. XV. p. 449., that the same result has been accomplished at Bridge Hill. We may add that, in the general conservatory at Chatsworth, all the coal will be supplied to the fireplaces, and all the ashes removed thence, in small iron carriages on underground railroads, such as are used in coal mines. The conveyance of what are called slops, from the bedrooms to the underground drains, by pipes from a housemaid's closet on each floor, has long been practised; but conveying down linen to be washed is, as far as we know, confined to public hospitals and infirmaries. All that is necessary for this purpose is an upright tube from a housemaid's room, on the ground floor, to the upper floor of the house, which shall pass through the side of a room or closet on each floor. The rest is obvious. The same tube might easily, if necessary, be so contrived as to bring up clean linen, or any other article required by the housemaid. The mode in which this may be done is exemplified in the "rising cupboards" of several coffee-houses in London. (See Encyclopï¾µdia of Cottage Architecture, p. 696.) The bell-wires are arranged in the manner described in the work referred to, p. 917. Every part of the building is fireproof; all the flues may be cleaned without climbing-boys, and all the main drains are sufficiently large to admit of a man walking in them.