The stately home of Burton Agnes Hall and its grounds are one of the favourite places from my childhood, particularly with myself having ancestors from the village, Burton Agnes. The gatehouse is particularly striking as a work of architecture so I had a go at interpreting my own photographs of the gatehouse to create a 3D model in Blender.
The building was constructed in c.1610 by the English architect Robert Smythson, well known for his work during the Elizabethan era such as Hardwick Hall and Wollaton Hall. It features many architectural forms which are typical of this period, including the battlements and ogee-shaped roofing. Have a look at Historic England’s entry in the National Heritage List for England for this gatehouse.
I intentionally omitted the walls which extend from the gatehouse as I wanted to focus on the gatehouse structure itself, and similarly I also removed visitor signage. The model did not take as long to model as expected due to the symmetrical nature of the architecture-the mirror modifier tool was very useful!
As the Hotham house in Beverley, East Yorkshire was demolished over 200 years ago I thought I would carry out some 3D visualisation work on what the building may have looked like in the 18th Century based on the 1715 architectural design.
You may have heard of Sir John Hotham (1st Baronet), who in 1642 refused Charles I of England entry to Kingston Upon Hull, and as a result, contributing to the beginnings of the English Civil War. Over half a century later a member of his extended family, Charles Hotham (4th Baronet), built a grand classical house down Eastgate in the nearby town of Beverley. It was designed by the renowned Georgian architect Colen Campbell who is credited as the founder of the style.
Hotham purchased and demolished several properties down the East side of Eastgate to build his new home (East Riding Archives DDBC/16/67). Built between 1716-1721, the neo-Palladian house was intended to be a family home yet the house remained empty after Charles’ death in January 1723 and was demolished after 50 years.
Creating the Model in Blender: I modelled the front facade of the Hotham house with as much accuracy to Colen Campbell’s elevation drawing in his published work Vitruvius Britannicus (1715). As with most visualisation works, some interpretation had to be made when thinking about the window styles, doorway and material colour.
Campbell does not make clear which building materials were used. Records show that Hotham purchased local red bricks for the building (Hull University Archives, DDHO/15/4) yet Campbell’s design is absent of brickwork. I decided to texture the facade with a stucco-material as this possibly would have been applied on top of the brick surface. Stucco is also a key characteristic of classical architecture.
The symmetrical nature of neo-Palladian architecture meant that Blender’s mirror modifier tool came in handy, saving a lot of modelling time! It would have been useful if Campbell had drawn side elevations, so to interpret the scale of the side facades I used the accompanying ground plan to model an appropriate measurement based on proportions.
William Burrow’s 1747 map of Beverley shows the Eastgate location of the house fronted by a possible semicircular courtyard. Modelling the surrounding gardens and wider environment would be the next challenge to progress this model. This brings to light new questions relating to what the surrounding 18th-century Beverley landscape looked like, research into the garden design of the house and whether to populate the visualisation with people.
It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted as its come to the time where I need to be writing 20,000 words for my dissertation to accompany this Blender3D project!
Since my last post I have added a UV sphere as a background and mapped a sky texture to the mesh. I have also crenellated the abbey precinct- most of the hand-drawn “artist impressions” of the abbey have featured crenellated walls therefore I decided to include it on mine.
I have started to develop some of the pathways using a dirt texture and used the “shrink wrap” modifier to make the mesh mould to the shape of the ground as the ground isn’t completely flat or at a level height (if anyone knows an easier way please let me know! 🙂 )
I still need to model more of the other buildings in the abbey precinct once I’ve finished researching them. I also need to finish modelling windows and doorways on the buildings already in the model as a lot of the buildings still have blank façades. I’m hoping to create more varieties of foliage too, though the architecture has priority.
Just a little update! After creating the medieval form of the Hospitium (see previous post) I imported the model into my main abbey file and used the same model, but slightly amended, to form the length of buildings that lay parallel to the River Ouse.
From the screenshot (a very murky day!) you can also see the beginnings of the gatehouse and St Olave’s Church to the left of the abbey. I have also started planting some trees (the sapling tool is very handy for this) and hope to populate the grounds with a lot more foliage as I finish constructing the other buildings.
I’m taking a slight break from modelling the main St Mary’s Abbey by re-creating the Hospitium, one of the buildings in the abbey grounds (York Museum Gardens, UK). According to the History of York site “It’s not known for sure what it was originally used for, the official listing of the building suggests that it was a place for visitors to stay”.
I recreated the basic structure of the current Hospitium form in Blender using plans obtained from the University of York and researched what it would have looked like pre-Dissolution alongside the abbey. It looks slightly different to today, with a smaller upper storey.
Here is a screenshot of my progress so far!
and here my own winter photo of what the Hospitium looks like currently:
As you can see I need to model what can be seen today as the two arches and research what these buildings would have been in the 15th century. I also need to research the upper doorway on the Hospitium- would this have led to another attached building or was this added at a much later date and should therefore be edited out of my model?
Once I finish this model I will then import into my main abbey model file!
A small update on my abbey project. I am currently in the process of modelling some of the more detailed gothic decoration of the abbey’s exterior. This is quite difficult as the abbey’s decorative plan is only speculative at this point, with hardly any archaeological evidence. As a result I am referring to the schemes of other local ecclesiastic buildings such as the York Minster and other Benedictine abbeys.
Another part of the model I have been working on is the River Ouse created from real grass and dirt textures and a water photo. I intend to eventually blend the edge of the riverbank model with the grass model.
I am also beginning to model portals and their doors and add stained glass texturing to the windows. After that I will start to model some of the other buildings in the complex, such as King’s Manor (Abbott’s house), the Hospitium and St Mary’s Lodge, and also make a start on populating the grounds with trees and foliage.
Some more progress on my MSc dissertation project.! After trialling out some textures, taken from texturer.com, I visited York Museum Gardens to obtain photographs of the abbey which I can then use for the final texturing of the model. The above screenshot is the beginnings of my UV mapping the abbey with the real abbey textures.
When it comes to texturing the stained glass I may have to continue using the generic glass I used in my trial texturing, see previous post. Most of the content and design of the glass is unknown from archaeological excavation, therefore looking at other Benedictine abbeys may be useful for this.
Another feature I have been working on was adding the arcade in the cloister (above) and started some bump and specular mapping. Aspects to alter next would be the scale of some of the texture mapping and I also need to start thinking about adding doorways and looking at the design of 16th century kings manor!