The horizon of the A17


A few views from the A17, a fascinating if dangerous road. Earlier this year I wrote about a bit of roadside castellation in Lincolnshire. Taken at the end of a subsequent roadtrip, these views are quick snaps from a couple of roadside lay-bys along this road. I’m very interested in how architecture in a rural context can emphasise the flatness or nearly-flatness of a landscape. A complete opposite of the meaningless cul-de-sac-ia of contemporary rural housing developments, I love how these two rows of council houses are arrow straight both in plan and along the horizon


An Englishman’s home

An Englishman's Home...

For visitors, Norfolk is often characterised by being on the way to nowhere. As you have to be coming to Norfolk to find it, there isn’t such a thing as through traffic. There are only really two major roads into Norfolk: the A17/A47 from the north, and the A11 for London, Cambridge and the Midlands. The latter will, in 2014, finally be upgraded to dual carriageway for the entirety of its length, albeit without grade separated roundabouts at major interactions.

As a result of this tendency to patch up badly designed roads in a piecemeal fashion, the A17/A47 is made up of infuriating (and frequently life threatening) combinations of dual and single carriageways. One dual section on the A17 is just 400 metres, giving at most just a dozen cars the opportunity to pass the caravan they’ve been tailing for thirty miles. As Lincolnshire is one of the most important counties in Britain’s agricultural industry, holiday makers heading for the coast have to share the road with chugging tractors and streams of HGVs carrying produce.

An Englishman's Home...

As if it wasn’t dangerous enough, the roadside of the A17 is packed with architectural distractions.

An Englishman's Home...

This little house is in the hamlet of Asgarby in Lincolnshire, near the town of Sleaford. It’s been just such a distraction to me on countless road trips, notably to or from Sheffield where I started studying architecture twelve years ago.

This much we seem to know (and I’d like to thank the owners of the house for being so accommodating in my queries): what started as some kind of seventeenth century “tower” (no mention of function) was rebuilt as a double fronted cottage with a crenelated roof. The current owners, who have lived here for seventeen years, recently extended the house to the west, incorporating a sun room and matching the window profiles, the brick and the crenellations in the process.

An Englishman's Home...

I jokingly referred to this as “the west wing,” but that is, apparently how it’s now known to the family.

An Englishman's Home...

More thoughts on the architecture of the A17 corridor through Lincolnshire and Norfolk to come, although it’ll have to wait until I’m on my way somewhere.