3D Model: Thompson’s Folly, Cottingham

“Thompson’s Folly” was built in 1825 by Thomas Thompson within the grounds of his grand castellated house, Cottingham Castle near Hull. Built as a prospect tower, it stands on the highest point of the estate which at present is the grounds of Castle Hill Hospital.

Cottingham Castle was left as a derelict site after Thompson’s death in 1828 and a subsequent fire in May 1861. The folly is in the octagonal tower form featuring neo-gothic windows and is two-storeys tall. The style highly resembles Cottingham Castle itself- perhaps another future project!



Hollar’s Hull in 3D: Part I

I’m feeling inspired by the recent ‘Archives in 3D’ workshops (which I facilitated in my work capacity as Archives Assistant at the East Riding Archives) where we modelled Hull’s Beverley Gate and King Henry VIII’s Hull Castle using Blender3D and material held in collections at the East Riding Archives. Instead of leaving my Hull Castle model at the WIP stage, I thought I would develop my model further by placing it within its historical context surrounded by buildings of its period and (hopefully) with a textured finish!

Hollar Hull, view of HulL Castle
Hollar’s view of King Henry VIII’s Hull Castle

Wenceslaus Hollar’s plan and view of Hull, c.1642, is one of the most well-known historical images of the city and features King Henry VIII’s Hull Castle, the four main gatehouses and significant other locations such as Suffolk Palace and Hull Holy Trinity Church. Using Hollar’s representation, which has been reprinted in various historical publications available at several archive services, my next project is to recreate Hollar’s view of the city piece-by-piece beginning with the top section that includes Hull Castle.

Here are a few screenshots of my progress so far:

Work in progress, Hollar's Hull, Hannah Rice in Blender
WIP model of Hollar’s Hull by Hannah Rice

In addition to the architectural features of the fortifications I will also model some ships, canons and other elements included within Hollar’s representation, which will be new for me having previously only worked with buildings! As you can see, there is a long way to go as I’m starting off with simple geometry and will add more detail later. My next step will be to model more varieties of buildings and ships from the Civil War period and populate the city and river areas, all using Hollar’s view as inspiration.

Work in progress, Hollar's Hull, Hannah Rice in Blender

Work in progress, Hollar's Hull, Hannah Rice in Blender
WIP models by Hannah Rice

Beverley Gate, Hull c.1642

Beverley Gate Hull render of 3D model, Hannah Rice
Beverley Gate, Hull, c.1642.  Image render by Hannah Rice.

Quick new image based on my original model in Blender to celebrate Hull’s City of Culture year 🙂 See previous blog posts on this model’s development: 1 & 2


Divinity’s Reach- Epitome of Power

As part of my “Architecture in Gaming” series here is another one of my favourite in-game architectural locations: Divinity’s Reach, from the Guild Wars series.

“Divinity’s Reach is the greatest city in the human nation of Kryta. It is laid out like a giant wheel. Its upper city contains Queen Jennah’s royal palace and the Chamber of Ministers. Six high roads, each dedicated to a god, divide the lower city into districts.” In-game description

In Guild Wars 2, the quality of the architectural rendering makes it stand out in particular from the rest of the locations in the game (my opinion as a castle and cathedral admirer).

Below is my Asura admiring the view.  This screenshot was taken quite early on in the game for my character as I went straight there after completing the Asuran starting area, but I think it is a fantastic example of how much the city impacts on the Kryta landscape.

divinitys reach

It made me think back to my undergraduate studies where I was studying the architecture of medieval castles comparing those of King Edward I with his “Iron Ring” of Welsh castles, to that of the academically controversial Bodiam Castle. Are castles built for defensive purposes or are they intended as romantic allusions?

From the exterior, Divinity’s Reach looks strongly fortified with its gargantuan stone outer walls which circle the city, numerous amount of towers and a colossal portcullis.  To an outsider, the fortress is impenetrable and ticks all the boxes for the ultimate military structure. It is an exemplification of human domination over the Krytan landscape.

It is the combination between military stronghold and a fantastical, fairytale-like city that makes Divinity’s Reach stand out as an iconic structure to me. When you enter the interior walls it becomes apparent that despite it’s military mask, the city itself is highly sophisticated displaying a vast range of vernacular medieval-esque buildings.


The city is divided into districts, as commanded by it’s architectural design. These represent the hierarchy of society, as does a medieval castle, for example the higher up the structure you head the people who inhabit those areas are of higher status, in this case the lower districts are for the everyday citizens and the highest towers are Queen Jennah’s palatial complex.

Before I played the game I previously posted here about how the concept art of Divinity’s Reach reminded me of Mont Saint-Michel. Now I have played the game and explored the city I still agree with that comparison, and I think overall what ArenaNet was trying to portray with this location was the element of strength and power combined with a sophisticated civilisation in a race (in the context of the game- the human race). When compared to the architecture of the  other in-game races (such as Charr, Asura etc) their architecture also represents the ideals of their race.

Lastly, this is very true to architecture from history and to other countries today as our buildings become our identities, representative of the times. It is interesting how we implement these sort of ideals to in-game cultures as well.

For more architecture in gaming click here!


Divinity’s Reach in Guild Wars 2- Amazing!

As an architectural historian who also plays computer games, I am very excited about Guild Wars 2 which comes out on early release in six days! I was struck by the amazing concept art, particularly this one of Divinity’s Reach (below). 


I love the fusion between the vernacular medieval and the fortifications to create a nostalgic and impressive atmosphere. The only real-life example I can think of is Mont Saint-Michel of France with its fortifications and abbey. I’m hoping to play the technologically advanced Asura race, but this environment is tempting for another play through as a human also! 🙂