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Wrought iron has been used for both practical and decorative purposes since the 11th century. There are few surviving examples from the earlier ages because it was still a relatively scarce commodity and often reused many times.
However, from the late 17th century, a new era of metalwork craftsmanship dawned, and there are many magnificent surviving examples to enjoy today. Here are just a few inspiring and beautiful pieces of ironwork around Britain.
This church in the Yorkshire village of Stillingfleet was thought to have been built around 1154 by Robert de Stuteville. It is notable for its south doorway, which has a five-tier moulded arch with intricate stone carvings.
The original door has been moved inside the church to protect it from the elements, and is thought to be as much as 200 years older than the church itself. The wooden door features some of the earliest examples of decorative wrought ironwork from the Viking era, with a Viking longship motif in the upper half of the door.
It has a dragon’s head, a symbol which is repeated in the ends of the large C shapes which serve as hinges. Two figures, thought to be Adam and Eve, are represented on the upper half of the door, which is thought to have once featured the Tree of Knowledge.
It is remarkable not just for its attention to detail, but also simply because it has survived at all from an era when most iron was recycled and reworked.
Thomas Bakewell designed the ‘Birdcage’ garden arbour that forms the centrepiece of the formal gardens of Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire. It was completed in 1711 and cost £120, which would be the equivalent of about £30,000 today.
The exquisite detail was inspired by a French woodcarving style known as repoussé. It is painted in smolt blue with gold leaf, and has recently been carefully restored.
Formerly known as the Bell Edison Telephone Building and colloquially as The Exchange, 17 & 19 Newhall Street in Birmingham is famous for its beautiful wrought iron gates at the main entrance.
The neo gothic red-brick building was opened in 1896, and was designed by Frederick Martin for use by the National Telephone Company and the Central Telephone Exchange. It’s a Grade I listed building and is currently used as offices with a basement bar.
The ornate wrought iron gates are notable for their recurring leaf and floral design. The flowers are bright red with yellow centres and gold gilded leaves, complemented by green budding flower buds.
Canada Gate is an entrance to Green Park, one of eight Royal Parks in London. It was a gift from Canada in the early twentieth century, to mark its contribution to the former British Empire. It is a grand statement made up of five large black wrought iron gates with impressive gold gilded decorative details.
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