Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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just taking another look at some of those College Green ‘Billys’

Rocque’s map of College Green 1757

view of College Green from the bottom of Grafton Street, circa 1770s

Just before the House of Lords portico swept all of this away, we can see the process by which a virtually intact ‘Billy’ terrace began to be transformed into a Georgian streetscape. The near part of the streetscape appear in the print to have been rebuilt as standard two/three bay Georgian houses, possibly with shopfronts at street level hidden by the Trinity railings, while in the distance a terrace of six ‘Billys’ are shown still virtually intact.

To get in step with the new Georgian neighbours, the second ‘Billys’ has had it’s gable eliminated and the upper facade rebuilt as a flat parapet, but seamingly with no other alteration to the fabric and the original window arrangement left unaltered.

The first ‘Billy’ [outlined in red] appears to be a very rare and interesting, two stage, curvilinear gabled house that I suspect may have lost, rather than never originally had, a pedimented capping.

Two stage curvilinear gables are present in the European tradition, but usually on bigger houses where you suspect the profile was chosen as a devise to trim the gable more closely to the supporting roof structure behind. Here’s a couple of examples that probably represent Rococco [early-mid 18th century] re-workings of older gabled houses in Memmingen in Bavaria.

The profile of the smaller [green] house looks quite close to the College Green example.

The spreading of ideas through prints and pattern books, in the days before Ryanair, would seem to have had a role here, or we could simply be witnessing the process whereby similar challenges, within a commom building tradition, are tackled independently by people coming up with similar solutions.

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