Left: Cottage in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire. 1865. Right: Close-up of stone and bargeboard carvings. [Click on images to enlarge them.] Described in the Victoria County History as "a small house with ornate Ruskinian details," this was built on the estate of the Fosters of nearby Anstey Hall, and bears the initials CFF for Charles Finch Foster. In The Stones of Venice, Ruskin famously said that our clay resources were given us "that we might play with them, and that men who could not handle a chisel, might knead out of them some expression of human thought" (260). Here, dichromatic brickwork is complemented by chisel-work as well, in the stone-carving of the cloverleaf/shield motif and the floral wood-carving which echoes it in the bargeboards. Similarly, the entrance arches are echoed in the rounded dichromatic arches over the windows, though the arches over the upper windows are slightly more pointed. Notice also the ornate column between the double arches at the doorway itself. Yet, thanks to the hipped roof (which could almost be thatched, from a distance) and prominent bargebords, the general effect remains homely. Would Ruskin have approved? Remember that he particularly advocated "the bold gable roof" (211) and thought that the Gothic was just as suitable for the ordinary dwelling as for a church (see 202); but later on he regretted his "indirect influence" on many a "cheap villa builder" (letter to the Pall Mall Gazette, 16 March 1872, qtd. in Clark 193-4). So, is this cottage delightfully quaint, or overdone? Perhaps it all comes down to a matter of taste.

Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. 2008. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Clark, Kenneth. The Gothic Revival. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.

Ruskin, John. The Stones of Venice.Vol. II. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1853. Available here.

Wright, A. P. M. (ed.), et all. "Parishes — Trumpington." The Victoria County History: A History of the County of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. Vol. 8 (1982). Viewed 2 October 2008.

Last modified 6 October 2008.