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Inter-War Old English C. 1915—C. 1940
|In his light-hearted but penetrating analysis
of contemporary styles in the England of the 1930s, Osbert Lancaster in word
and cartoon coined and popularised the catchphrase ‘Stockbroker’s Tudor’ to
identifty a brand of brashly eclectic domestic architecture favoured by
nouveaux riches who (of course) knew no better.
The label has been used fairly consistently and widely for nearly fifty years: why, then, abandon it for the less potent ‘Old English’? Principally because ‘Stockbroker’s Tudor’ has come to be regarded simply as a ‘joke style’. It is in fact no more—or less—of a joke than many other styles. It would seem to be rather less ludicrous for a tweed- jacketed English businessman to build himself a mock half-timbered mansion with a name such as Hollingdale Wood than for him to erect a stucco- smeared villa with a wrought iron sign featuring a sombrero’d Mexican and bearing the name San Antonio.
We have already encountered Old English as a major component of the FEDERATION QUEEN ANNE style. Its reappearance in inter-war Australia was in response to factors very similar to those which were felt in the late i88os. In a society still having predominantly Anglo-Saxon origins, great virtue was seen in the image of an idealised English traditional culture centred vaguely around the time of King Henry VIII.
If miraculously transported to rural Sussex, the best examples of FEDERATION QUEEN ANNE built about 1890 might conceivably be identified by lay people as genuine Tudor architecture. It is hardly likely, though, that any building in the Inter-War Old English style could be mistaken for ‘the real thing’, however skilful its designer might have been. The aggressive texture of machine-made bricks, the scenographic quality of nailed-on, creosoted ‘half timbering’, and the slickness of the ‘heraldic devices’ usually give the game away, even to the uninitiated. But in the 1930S strong visual imagery was all that was important: scrupulous scholarship was of little concern to the architect and of no interest to the client.
Stonehaven, Stonehaven Court, Toorak, Vic. Architect unknown, 1930S. Textured clinker bricks and imitation half- timbering are the hallmarks of this style.
London Court, Hay Street Mall, Perth, WA. Bernard Evans, architect, 1937. A richly detailed Tudor pastiche proclaiming the prosperty that followed the Great Depression.
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
RICHARD APPERLY, ROBERT IRVING, PETER REYNOLDS. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SOLOMON MITCHELL.
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.