The castle, the church and the temple; these three model buildings were made for my young nephews in Canada by my father and myself. The youngest of these nephews is now well over 40, so you can tell that all these buildings were made many years ago. The first to be made was the castle, and that was entirely my father’s work; I was still at boarding school at the time. It must have been made in 1966. The stone work was represented by pressing a rubber dipped in brown paint onto the mortar coloured background. The whole toy could be taken to pieces – a flat pack castle.
Having built a castle for his eldest grandson my father came under increasing pressure to do similar presents for the other two children! It was after 1971 that next model was made, and by then I had left university and was living at home, so I was in a position to help him with the next two models. Whereas the castle had been a toy, albeit a very superior one, the next two buildings were scale models. The church was modelled on Worstead church in Norfolk. It was built to 72nd scale to fit into the model railway layout my nephews possessed, although the layout was based on North American practice. With transatlantic locos and rolling stock a medieval Norfolk church must have looked spectacularly out of place. It now comes out every Christmas in my sister’s house, so I understand. I have already done a blog on the model of Worstead church back in October 2011.
It was accurately transferred from the architect’s drawings for repairs to the church, done by my cousin Andrew Anderson. He was the architect responsible for upkeep of the church. The model had a lot of interior detail that you could not see from outside, the construction of the roof were an example. This was all correct even down to the hammer beams. I could have gone on almost endlessly, making the model ever more detailed, but I think I stopped before it became too grand for a young boy to play with.
Despite this intricacy the model was quite robust, or so I tell myself. You will notice I am using the first person singular when referring to the building of the model; this work was mostly done by me, from the cutting out of the window tracery on the jigsaw to the painting of the stone effects on the exterior walls. This was done in a similar way to my father’s earlier castle walls, only instead of an eraser I used a rubber finger stall as used for sorting papers. The ‘prickles’ on the rubber stall produced the effect flints when dipped into a suitable saucer of paint where the colours were not fully mixed.
This was the most accurate of the three models, being based on an actual church. Worstead church was started in 1379 and was built in one go, all in the same style of early perpendicular architecture. This is more restrained than the decorated style which had been brought to an end by the Black Death. It is the archetypal Wool Church – the cloth known as worsted is named after the village. The church perhaps represents the most modern of the three buildings we made, although it was still very old. It would have been fun to build a model in a more recent style, perhaps Georgian, but we had run out of grandchildren at the time! (My own children arrived much later and never had such delightful buildings.)
The last model was of a Greek Temple; it must have been done at the request of my nephew Richard. Here the problems were quite different. The columns round the temple were extremely repetitive, and they had to be made on a production line scale. I made the pattern on the lathe, and then I cast them all in resin using a rubber mould. I am not sure of the scale which the Greek Temple was built to; it was loosely based on the Parthenon from the Acropolis in Athens and it must have been made to 144th scale or smaller. I had done a paper on Classical Architecture for my Oxford History finals, so using the grammar of orders, triglyphs, metopes, friezes, architraves and all the rest was quite up my street at the time. The most interesting part was the pediment at the front, with the tympanum decorated with relief sculptures. These I did with plastic figures meant originally for 00 scale model railways, although I think these figures were soldiers of a more ancient lineage than was appropriate to the railway age, more suitable to adorn a Greek temple. Because the originals would have been considerably larger than life-size this came out about right, and when painted a uniform stone colour they began to look quite classical. These were based on the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, which I had seen in the British Museum a few years earlier.
JOSEPH MASON email@example.com FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE