Monday, November 07, 2011

The Other Place

I was invited to a graduation ceremony at The Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Saturday which was great fun. The Sheldonian is so-called because it was funded, in 1664, by Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury and a former Warden of All Souls. It was designed by a young Christopher Wren, then Professor of Astronomy at Oxford and with little practical experience of building. He wanted to base the design on that of a Roman theatre. Roman theatres were, of course, open air and so the problem was how build the same structure in Oxford with a roof but without any load-bearing columns in the central space. Wren designed a roof truss spanning seventy feet, a technical achievement which gained him enormous credit in scientific and architectural circles.
The truss is concealed by a ceiling painted by Robert Streater. The theme is the triumph of the Arts and Sciences over Envy, Rapine and "brutish scoffing ignorance".


Anonymous Portinari said...

The only problem with the Sheldonian is that it was built for 17th century people. I sat through the whole St Matthew Passion (JS Bach) and I was almost unable to stand at the end. Talk of Ryan Air leg space!

10:13 am  
Blogger Tom said...

This is a very nice piece of architecture.

roof trusses adelaide

8:13 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Greetings, Portinari - poor you! I am also told it's wise to take a cushion to sit on.

8:20 am  

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