The Christmas season is bearing down upon us once again and as usual we are frantically busy finishing orders for Christmas presents. This time of year has always been our busiest as nearly all the Archistory pictures we create are surprise gifts, and a great many of those are for Christmas.
We are getting pretty adept at subterfuge and covering our tracks when it comes to making our drawings surprises. I have been known to wait at the gates of a house until the owner had driven past, before I enter to do a survey. We have been secretly lent important files, containing deeds and documents and our clients have just had to keep their fingers crossed that their partners haven’t noticed that they are missing! We have also had to send proof copies of our histories to friends and neighbours so that they are not intercepted as suspicious emails or letters.
It has to be said that the majority of pictures are commissioned by women for their husbands, some of whom are notoriously difficult to buy for, especially those who love their houses and have already spent a great deal of time and effort on restoration. That’s what makes an Archistory the perfect gift.
Apart from a steady flow of interesting commissions this month, we have been asked by one client to diversify into the world of house history books. This is a great new development for us. Now Archistory is pleased to offer the possibility of producing an entire book about your house.The book can contain any number of architectural drawings, maps and plans, all still created by us from site surveys, but there is also scope to add photographs and other graphic images as well as the space for a much extended history. Sometimes, when researching a house history, Paul will touch on subjects which could be expanded further. We try to make our Archistory pictures have an amount of text which provides a very detailed story, but not make them too vast. It is hard to stand and read the text in a picture for more than a few minutes, so we tend to limit our histories to about 1,500 words. Now with the new book format the possibilities are endless!
We are also able to work with top quality printers so that the finished book can have any style of binding or dust jacket required. Lettering or even the silhouette of the house can be embossed in foil on the cover. We can also supply any number of copies. The larger the production run, the lower the unit cost becomes. Each commission will be priced on an individual basis, depending on what the client would like to include, so please call or email to discuss any project you might have in mind.
From the Hero of Delhi to the Inventor of the Tweed Jacket
One of the fascinating things about researching old buildings is discovering the rich tapestry of previous occupants of a property, particularly if the building in question is situated in such illustrious as street as Palace Gate in the Royal Borough of Kensington.
A house we recently researched revealed itself to be the one time home of William Gillilan, a good friend of Brigadier-General John Nicholson, the ‘Hero of Delhi’ during the Indian Mutiny. In 1890 Mr Gillilan called in the famous architect Sir William Emerson to redecorate the interior of the house. Emerson had practised in India, and his most famous creation is the Victoria Memorial Hall in Calcutta.
The house then went on to be the residence of the fashion designer Digby Morton, who also rented out the basement and ground floor and used them as his fashion studio. Morton was praised by Sir Hardy Amies for making the tweed jacket into a fashionable city garment in the thirties, and he became renowned for his uncluttered men’s and women’s styling.
Another occupant of the building turned out to be Francis John von Habsburg Lothringen, a relation of the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
At Archistory it is always a constant surprise and delight to discover such gems of information, and they remind us that the fabric of a building is as much about the people who owned and lived in it.