This stereograph shows a scene that has changed considerably since it was taken c.1860. Close to where the tree is on the left now stands St. Wilfrid’s Catholic Church, completed in 1864, and all of the houses shown beyond the junction on the right have since disappeared for road-widening. York, with its minster, city walls, gatehouses and many medieval houses, still remains England’s best-preserved medieval city by some distance.
‘Tintern Abbey – looking S.W. from the N.E – corner of Chancel’
Founded in the 1130s, Tintern Abbey lies in the beautiful Wye Valley, Monmouthshire. The Cistercian abbey buildings were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536. The monks were evicted, the lead was stripped from the roof and the building became a ruin. Wordsworth visited in 1793 and later wrote one of his most famous poems inspired by the bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
This stereograph shows the twin steeples of Dresden’s only Gothic church, the Sophienkirche, with the courtyard of the Zwinger in the foreground. The Zwinger was a palace designed by the Dresden architect Matthäus Pöppelmann for the Elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong. A marvel of Rococo architecture, the Zwinger was built between 1710 and 1728 on part of Dresden’s medieval fortifications (‘Zwinger’ is simply a German name for part of a fortification). St. Sophie’s Church originated in the mid-13th century as a monastery church and was largely remodelled around 1351. After the Reformation the church became the Evangelical church for the royal court. It was altered in the 1860s when a Baroque bell tower was demolished and replaced with the twin spires and two side aisles were added. One of its most important internal features was a Silbermann organ installed in 1720 upon which Bach probably performed in 1733. Both the Zwinger and the Sophienkirche were severely damaged during the air-raids on Dresden in February 1945. The church’s vault survived but collapsed in 1946 following the destruction of the supporting piers inside. The Silbermann organ was also destroyed but the magnificent Renaissance altar by Giovanni Nesseni was salvaged. Although the church could’ve been reconstructed the remains were instead demolished. According to East Germany’s then leader, Walter Ulbricht, “a socialist city does not need Gothic churches” and the last traces of the Sophienkirche were removed in 1963. Fortunately the Zwinger fared much better and has been completely reconstructed to its pre-war state. The Nessini altar can now be seen in a small church at Loschwitz just outside the city limits.
This stereograph was taken in 1902 during the coronation of Edward VII. Some celebratory bunting can be seen wrapped around the lamp posts. It shows the magnificent West Front of Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the top of Ludgate Hill. The area was severely affected during the London Blitz of 1940. Although most of the buildings shown are Victorian (apart from the cathedral!) the stereograph gives a good impression of how the cathedral would’ve appeared when completed in 1708, rising up from relatively narrow streets packed with low-rise buildings. The same scene today is quite different.