Tales from the Theatrical Woods: Chapter 27

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23 September 2018

Our name for the diamond patterned brickwork of the auditorium – cross-gartering (or as an adjective: cross-gartered) – seems to have infiltrated the arcane lexicon of brickwork terminology.  At a loss to describe this decorative feature (see Tales passim) and my feeling that the term diagonal patterning did not quite cut it, memories of Twelfth Night and Malvolio’s seductively intended cross-garter’d hosiery (on a yellow ground) came to mind.  It is now apparent that this impromptu description of the auditorium brickwork has been widely adopted by those needing to describe it.  I, therefore, belatedly consulted the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers’ (chartered 1568) very extensive glossary of terms.  The nearest I could find to our wall treatment is the rather unfortunately named diaper pattern described as:

Large plain areas of walling decorated by using blue-flared or vitrified headers to produce patterns known as Diapers; these can be triangular or lozenge shaped. The patterns are created by English Cross Bond which is similar to English Bond but the joints of each alternate of stretchers are moved over by placing a header next to the quoin stretcher which gives a stepped effect to the cross joints.



We did actually consider this form of embellishment but discounted it as being over employed in recent commercial developments and having an insufficiently three-dimensional character suitable for enlivening a curved surface.  An important attribute of our design is the shadowing effect of the projecting ‘dog tooth’ pattern as the sunlight moves around the wall.

I will now advise the Worshipful Company of our new brickwork facing technique and the name we have ascribed to it.

The remaining brickwork and the larch cladding to the north of the building will be complete shortly.  We have given serious consideration to the detail and proportions of the colonnade that will encircle the base of the auditorium and the forecourt finish. A mock-up of one bay for fine tuning will be in place shortly.

David Lloyd Jones

Above: Scene from ‘Twelfth Night’ Malvolio and the Countess (Daniel Maclise)


Sad, lady! I could be sad: this does make some
obstruction in the blood, this cross-gartering; but
what of that? if it please the eye of one, it is
with me as the very true sonnet is, ‘Please one, and
please all.’