Taylor Wimpey’s PR lackeys at Cascade Communications sent out an email yesterday that suggested their paymaster was suffering from second thoughts about the name of its proposed Golden Lane development being The Denizen. Local people don’t want 99 luxury flats replacing 110 social housing units on the site, but rather than listening to us, the ‘community specialists’ hired by the developer are offering a vote on an absurd list of names for the building. Here’s the Cascade Communications shower on the subject:
In response to feedback from the community, including at the Construction Liaison Group meetings, we are exploring changing the final name of the redevelopment of Bernard Morgan House. Whilst this will not change any of the branding used to market the development, it will change the final name and postal addresses. The chosen name will be subject to securing any necessary permissions. Taylor Wimpey Central London are committed to working with the community. Following careful research we have selected four names, chosen for their local context. We would like your opinion on the shortlist of names. Please click here to let us know what you think. Deadline for comments is Monday 14th May at 5pm. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us… Kind regards, Bernard Morgan House Construction Team. 9 May 2018 at 14:37 BST
Anyone who clicked on the link discovered they could vote on four names: Clarendon House, Chaucer House, Luder House and Bridgewater Court. All these names offer amusing possibilities for winding up anyone idiotic enough to purchase a ghost home in the development. But sadly The Turd, the name locals have given to the planned development, has been overlooked.
According to Cascade’s website Clarendon House would name the development after an English typeface that was created for the Fann Street Foundry in 1845. The site is on the corner of Golden Lane and Fann Street. So why not call the building Maison Grotesque? Using the French word for house is appropriate since according to some sources, Fann Street takes its name from the Huguenot fan makers who allegedly lived and worked there. Likewise, after William Thorowgood bought the Fann Street Foundry in 1820, he was the first to use the term “grotesque” to describe a sans-serif typeface and the first to design one in lower case. Robert Besley joined the firm in 1838 and went on to create Clarendon, the first patented typeface. Besley became Lord Mayor of London in 1869. Understood this way the name Claredon House will clearly appeal to the City establishment who haven’t yet answered questions raised last year in the national press about potential conflicts of interest as regards the planning permission granted to Taylor Wimpey for this development:
In May 2017 planning approval was given to Taylor Wimpey, despite strong opposition from local residents and businesses. During this process it emerged that the chair of the City’s planning and transportation committee, Chris Hayward, is a director of Indigo Planning, whose clients include Taylor Wimpey. Deputy chair James Thomson was formerly deputy chief financial officer and chief operations officer of Cushman and Wakefield, commercial property and real estate consultants, which marketed and sold Bernard Morgan House to Taylor Wimpey. The committee member and former lord mayor of London Sir Michael Bear was appointed chair of the planning consultancy Turley Associates – which also acts for Taylor Wimpey – a few weeks after planning approval was granted.
Developers are using culture as a Trojan horse in their planning battles by Anna Minton, Guardian Tuesday 10 October 2017.
Needless to say changing the name of the development won’t make the issues raised by The Guardian and others go away. And Clarendon House has some interesting connotations not mentioned by Cascade, which leads us to wonder whether whoever suggested this name to either them or Taylor Wimpey was having a laugh. Clarendon House was the grandest town house in London for the less than twenty years it stood on Piccadilly. It was built for Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. The 8-acre site was acquired by royal grant in 1664. It was completed in 1667. According to Wikipedia:
In 1667, the same year that his house was finished, Clarendon fell from favour. His image had not been helped by the grandeur of his mansion… Among the many allegations against him it was charged that he has appropriated stone intended for repairs to St. Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire to build his house. That same year, on 14 June 1667, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary: “…some rude people have been… at my Lord Clarendon’s where they cut down the trees before his house and broke his windows.” In response to the allegations, the King abandoned his former favourite. In 1667, Clarendon fled to France, where he died in 1674. In 1675, his heirs sold Clarendon House to Christopher Monck… (who) resold it to a consortium of investors led by Sir Thomas Bond. Bond demolished it and built Dover Street, Albemarle Street, and Bond Street on the site.
Curiously the 1st Earl of Clarendon shares a name with the monstrous side of Robert Louis Stevenson’s schizophrenic fictional creation Dr Henry Jeckyll AKA Mr Edward Hyde. So aside from the fact that ghost home owners in Taylor Wimpey’s development will be as unpopular among locals as the 1st Earl of Clarendon was in his time, Clarendon House as a name might well inspire some new horror legends about the site.
Cascade claim Chaucer House comes from Geoffrey Chaucer, who they say is a ‘former resident’. Chaucer would have lived within the original City of London wall, but not in Cripplegate where Taylor Wimpey have their site and which lies outside the wall. Given that the development has already acquired the moniker The Turd, this immediately bought to mind the words addressed by the host to the pardoner at the end of Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale:
But, by the croys which that Seint Eleyne fond/I wolde I hadde thy coillons in myn hond/In stide of relikes or of seintuarie/Lat kutte hem of, I wol thee helpe hem carie/They shul be shryned in an hogges toord!
For anyone whose Middle English isn’t up to speed this has been translated as:
But, by the cross that Saint Helen found/ I would I had thy testicles in my hand/ Instead of relics or a container for relics/ Have them cut off, I will help thee carry them/ They shall be enshrined in a hog’s turd!
Presumably Taylor Wimpey aren’t trying to sell their stupid Golden Lane development on the basis of Chaucer’s shit talk and toilet humour; so either they’re ignorant of it or they think anyone dumb enough to buy one of their buy-to-leave ‘investement’ properties will be.
Choosing Luder House for Owen Luder, brutalist architect and former RIBA president, is utterly ludicrous. The crap contemporary design of Taylor Wimpey’s proposed development is utterly at odds with Luder’s brutalist aesthetic. According to the Proles For Modernism protest group, Luder’s masterpiece the Tricorn Shopping Centre in Portsmouth was built by Taylor Woodrow (now Taylor Wimpey) and also demolished by them. So Taylor Wimpey naming their Golden Lane development Luder House would be a very backhanded ‘compliment’ not just to this architect but also to themselves. Like the other proposed names for Taylor Wimpey’s development, this comes across as a suggestion made by a saboteur.
Bridgewater Court is allegedly chosen for the Earls of Bridgewater who Cascade claim ‘lived locally’. Since the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater is known as the Canal Duke, for his creation of a series of canals in north-west England, this choice associates property investors buying into the building’s ghost homes with the wealth derived from industrial development; or in the bigoted parlance of old money as ‘arrivistes’. One can only wonder at how Taylor Wimpey arrived at both The Denizen and this new list of names for its obnoxious Golden Lane development. But whatever way you look at it, should this building ever be built and regardless of what Taylor Wimpey or its ghost home investors want, it’s going to be known as The Turd.
The images above show Owen Luder and Rodney Gordon’s Tricorn Shopping Centre in Portsmouth, England. It was opened in 1966 and demolished in 2004.
Developers are using culture as a Trojan horse in their planning battles by Anna Minton: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/10/developers-culturehousing-luxury-homes-art-artists
Wikipedia on Clarendon House: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarendon_House
Protest group Proles For Modernism on saving the Tricorn Shopping Centre: http://www.nonism.org.uk/tricornia/main_index.html