Through the Coffin-Shaped Window
Somebody told me the other day that Nicholas Hawksmoor, being a lover of all things grim, liked to put memento mori into his designs just for the sheer hell of (or hell-avoidence) of it. They cited this window, on the first floor of the Queen Anne Building in the Old Royal Naval College, in the shape of a coffin (rather beautifully mirrored across the courtyard through said window).
I don’t know if I believe them, but it’s a great story, plausible with what tradition (and Peter Ackroyd) hand down to us about Hawksmoor, and the windows, suitable for a pensioner of considerable girth, are fantastic, whatever the tale.
Of course the building being part of the uni these days, it doesn’t escape one or two of the privations of academic institutions, not least the unfortunate positioning of the fizzy pop dispenser in front of such a grand orifice.
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