Getting it in Proportion

Sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, looking up Queen Street, I’m attempting to draw the spire of St Peter and St Leonard’s Church, Horbury.

The proportions are so subtle; the tower’s structure reminds me of a four-stage Saturn rocket, about to soar skywards but it might so easily, with the addition of an extra foot or so of girth, start to appear crushingly earthbound or, conversely, if too slender, become too spindly and emaciated to inspire confidence.

It’s the same with the individual pillars: there’s such a slim ‘Goldilocks zone’ between undernourished and elephantine. I think that he got it just right.

The architect, John Carr(1723-1807), started his career working the stone in local quarries. As far as I know, he never had any formal training in architecture, nor did he ever make the Grand Tour, to absorb the classical influence of Italy but as bridge surveyor to the West Riding of Yorkshire, he had an eye for structure.

I walked past the church every day when I attended St Peter’s Junior School, which in those days stood close to where the dentist’s stands today. As I looked up at that wedding cake of a spire, so unlike anything else in Horbury, I’d imagine the kind of character that might be living in there, in the pilastered penthouse apartment above the rusticated clock section. Shutters and a the mini-balcony made me think of Spain or Mexico, so a mantillared señorita or a caballero.

The rotunda of columns could be a home for a minor Greek deity.

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