Happy National Gutters Day UK!
This is National Maintenance Week, an initiative of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) to remind building owners to give their property its annual ‘MoT’ before the onset of winter’s wild weather, rain and hail, sleet and snow, and those worrisome winds. And, one essential part of ensuring your building will cope with the potential problems of winter weather is ensuring your gutters and their hoppers are not full of rubbish and holes.
For me, on this blog, National Gutters Day is the very best excuse to highlight the often under-appreciated, yet truly wonderful designs that decorate many historic gutter hoppers. You can see a miscellany of fabulous guttering from a diverse range of buildings in England and north Wales on my first National Gutters Day blog in 2014, as well as some very nice gutter hoppers from buildings in and around Cardiff in my 2015 celebration blog here. More recently, I blogged about the hoppers I found in the historic East Sussex town of Lewes, and today my eye is focused on some of the hoppers I found during a recent visit to the city of London. Enjoy ... then get out and check those gutters, people!
These are just three of the many hoppers to be found on Westminster Abbey, a building that dates from the 13th century but has been much added to over the subsequent years. Such a large and important structure requires constant maintenance, even – or perhaps especially – to seemingly inconsequential items like the guttering and its hoppers. The few dates I noticed – 1700, 1723 and 1904 – indicate the frequent upkeep of the hoppers.
Southwark Cathedral is another important building with a long history of construction, damage, rebuilding, additions, restoration. It has some magnificent gargoyles, their mouths gaping over the downpipes that take damaging rain water away from the stonework. I also found one beautifully designed hopper, which must date from after 1905 as it shows the Southwark Diocese coat of arms (‘of the lozengy cross from the old Priory arms made up of eleven lozenges with a mitre in the first quarter’) granted in that year by the College of Arms. (The Cathedral’s coat of arms has since been altered.)
Though its various structures are much older, these hoppers on the Tower of London must date from some time during the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837 to 1901, as they have her royal cipher stamped upon them. I think the Tower authorities need to take heed of SPAB’s advice this week and instigate some urgent gutter maintenance.