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Angevin Iowa

The Angevin Empire extended from the Pyrenees to Ireland. During the 12th and 13th centuries it was ruled by the Plantagenet dynasty of England (Henry II, Richard I, John and others) though some of its more interesting construction is found in western France, especially the town of Angers.

Structures from this place and time weren’t part of my undergraduate architectural history education — sorry Fred and Bill, I guess you had bigger fish to fry — so as I studied one of the church designs of William Halsey Wood (Mount Pleasant Baptist in Newark, no longer with us and a project in another context) and couldn’t quite put my finger on the signature masonry patterns of its tower, the Chateau d’Angers emerged from the undergraduate fog.

What I’m calling “Angevin masonry” is exemplified by the bastions at Angers but it can also be found some distance northeast in the Pays du Caux near the English Channel; I’m thinking particularly about the Manoir d’Auffay near the village of Oherville, where even more diverse kinds of masonry were used in even more aggressive patterns. There is no suggestion that Halsey Wood may have traveled to the continent but that surely doesn’t eliminate the possibility that he had seen examples of this distinctive constructive type published in books.

 

All of this falls in the category of “the way things work”, just me thinking out loud as the design of Fennimore county’s courthouse coalesces in my imagination. But even before I’ve had a chance to adapt these examples and apply them to Halsey Wood’s scheme for Agincourt, you can see where this is going. I hope.

03_746px-Austin_Hall,_Harvard_University

 


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