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a life in architecture ferdinand mount

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On the Pembrokeshire coast, nestling in the limestone cliffs just above the high water mark, there is a little fourteenth century chapel dedicated to St Govan, thought to be a Cornish saint. It is a plain single chamber the same colour as the cliffs, with a dried-up holy well nearby. If you count the steps going down and coming up again, you never come to the same figure.Walking along the cliff path above, I don't often go down, but I always like to think of that wavelashed holy place.

The first Severn Bridge and the Humber Bridge are both soaringly graceful, but there is something even more special about the second Severn Crossing.The day it was opened I read a profile of the engineer inThe Times saying that these days nobody ever remembers the name of the bridge designer, and it's true, I've forgotten his name.

I haven't forgotten the name of the architect of my third choice, Trinity Hospital on Mile End Road by William Ogbourne.These are the prettiest almshouses I know: two rows of redbrick cottages with an avenue of acacias between them and at the end a charming William-and-Mary chapel (pictured above).The ends of each row are topped with little stone galleons and the cottage porches are held up by Grinling Gibbonsish swags of fruit. The Sshaped boundary wall imparts a wave-like motion to the overall serenity of the composition - rather like the S-shape of the Severn Bridge.

Ferdinand Mount is editor of the Times Literary Supplementand a novelist.

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