Video Fly-Through of the Sir John Moore School

After a hugely successful launch at the BBC’s Great British Story event in Appleby Magna at the beginning of July, the Digital Building Heritage group’s completed reconstruction of the “lost” 1693 Wren / Hawksmoor design for the Sir John Moore School in Derbyshire is available. Although Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor designed this building in an modern style for the time (the drawings were produced by Hawksmoor), the project was passed to a local mason, William Wilson who didn’t share their approach and during construction changed it completely to conform to an older, more traditional appearance. This reconstruction is the first time that Wren and Hawksmoor’s original intentions for this building have been visualized in this way and the video gives some idea of what the scope of their intentions were, particularly in the bold and vigorous articulation of the façade. At the time of the design Wren was about ¾ of the way through building St. Paul’s Cathedral and Hawksmoor was designing Christ’s Hospital Mathematical and Writing School in London for the same client. The Sir John Moore School design is more ornate and visually complex than Christ’s hospital and would have been a much grander visual statement of power and patronage in the English landscape if it had actually been built. The present Sir John Moore School, built by William Wilson is none-the-less a delightful and charming building harking back to the design style of a generation before Wren and Hawksmoor. The video allows for the first time a detailed comparison of the differences in spatial experience and architectural detail between the two designs and reveals more fully a little known example of Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor’s architectural work.

About Douglas Cawthorne

Reader in Digital Heritage at De Montfort University.
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