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Firework display

Fireworks! I love them. And these were really spectacular, launched from a barge on a millpond sea on a balmy, windless evening. Perfect!

The occasion is the hundredth anniversary of the opening of the casino. Since the railway between Granville and Paris opened in 1870, this fishing town increasingly became a holiday destination. The building of the casino, designed by Auguste Bluysen, (who also designed and built the Hôtel Westminster in Le Touquet in 1924) marked Granville’s coming of age as a holiday destination, earning it the soubriquet ‘Monaco of the North’.

A few years ago the second building was converted into a showplace helping to preserve this well known landmark on the Cotentin. The anniversary was of particular interest to me as the newel post at the foot of the staircase chez nous has the same shape as the roofs of the two towers. This places the addition of the staircase as after 1911, assuming the shape was copied. This fits with my estimate that the main alterations to the house were made in the 1920s.

One of the ways in which a place’s character develops over time is through the addition of new buildings. While it is important of course to preserve the best of what has been inherited, I think we should not prevent the development of new landmarks to pass on to future generations.

Architecture is one way that culture is expressed in a lasting way. One of the ways I have conveyed the passage of time in my book (working title The Crafter’s Daughter) is through the development of new buildings: the new coaching inn at Dalton, the white stone cathedral in Halsted and the conversion of the houses with an extra story being added from ‘ugly red brick’. In this way, the landscape is both familiar to the protagonist, who has been away a long time, and at the same time, alien. These changes are a reflection of the way society has changed in the time she has been away, for good and bad.

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