Should we build reproductions of now vanished buildings?

Roger Pearse | 6/23/2018 | Staff
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The ancient city of Norwich in East Anglia is still surrounded by much of its medieval circuit of walls. But the gatehouses are all gone. They were thrown down in an outbreak of civic improvement in 1792, to improve access to the city and save money on repairs. By that time they were all rather cracked and ruinous anyway.

One of the most impressive was St Stephen’s gate, which faced west. Queen Elizabeth I entered the city through it, and it must always have been the main city gate.

Drawing - Gate - John - Kirkpatrick - Henry

Here is a drawing of the gate, outside and inside, made around 1720 by John Kirkpatrick and engraved in 1864 by Henry Ninham.[1].

Here is a last one, this time from 1792, just before demolition, by John Ninham, published by Fitch in a volume of such drawings in 1861.[3] Repairs are clearly visible. The windows have been enlarged also.

England - Councils - Attitude - Fortunately - Norwich

In England local councils vary greatly in their attitude to heritage. Fortunately Norwich City Council has a splendid website, and this, remarkably, has a survey of the city walls, completed in 1999-2002, plus a page full of hard information for each of the vanished gatehouses. Here is the one for St Stephen’s Gate.

After the demolition, the area simply became an area of roadway. Indeed in the 1960s – that era of brutal contempt for what ordinary people felt – some of the walls were demolished to make way for the ring road. The area of St Stephen’s gate was turned into a hideous roundabout, complete with concrete underpasses, and the foundations are supposed to have been destroyed. The roundabout is what greets visitors from London and the west today.

Plan - Colossal - St - Stephen - Gate

An ambitious plan to rebuild the colossal St Stephen’s Gate entrance to the city of Norwich in its original location has been unveiled today. The proposal is to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Roger Pearse
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