De Vere House, Lavenham
Photograph: E. Smith (1965)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection
In many ways, this photograph typifies the popular notion of Medieval architecture. The entrance to a warped, half-timbered building, it exudes an intriguing charm.
Immediately noticeable is the door, or rather doors. The main door has been much patched in its long history; off-centre, and contained within, is a much smaller door, capped with an ogee arch. Why was this so arranged? Who exactly could fit through it? The carved figures also demand attention. Standing like sentries either side, they may have become blunted by time, yet still have presence. Who were these men?
Looking beyond, the wonderful mixture of materials becomes apparent. Predominantly this is built of timber, and most beams appear raw in their basic form. A few were once finely worked, but time has blunted these carvings. There is also some brick-filling, laid in diagonal or herringbone patterning. Crammed above the door are tiny leaded windows, their diamonds misshapen. What a contrast to the rectilinear, modern metal drainpipe, unhappily stuck onto the old building.