Sunday, March 4, 2012
The Buttercross, before...
Last time I was in Ludlow, which was last year, I noticed the way the stone of the Buttercross, a building I’d long admired, was glowing in the sun, and took the photograph above. This building, part market, part Town Hall, was built in 1743–4 to designs by William Baker (1705–71), an architect who was busy in Shropshire, Staffordshire, and neighbouring counties in the middle of the 18th century. Pevsner, describing the architecture of the building, says while it is “not polished, [it] has an attractive robustness”. The classical portico with its four Tuscan columns is offset by less formal details, such as the semicircular window and the clock turret, with its lovely cupola. The whole thing is a worthy centrepiece to this part of the town centre, and looks good from Broad Street, where I took the picture.
Since last year, the builders have been in, doing major works to the roof. Then, in November, disaster struck in the form of falling chunks of plaster from one of the ceilings. Further internal problems have since been discovered and Ludlow’s council have a much bigger and more complex restoration project on their hands. The plaster seems to have come down without much provocation. According to the Shropshire Star, Ludlow’s Mayor, Martin Taylor-Smith, said, “We think the initial fall was when the clock-winder went up, just from the vibration.”
Now the Town Council, which used the upper part of the building, has found alternative accommodation, work has begun on finding a new use for the Butter Cross. An application in underway to turn the building into an education and interpretation centre, where, for example, traditional building skills might be shown. Here’s hoping the extra funding can be found to make the repairs and preserve this landmark.