Nothing in Spittal is quite symetrical. It’s not that kind of place. Yarrow Villa, built in 1707, has a neatly symmetrical roof with two matching dormer windows. The four upstairs windows are two different sizes and appear to have shuffled up to the left of the facade*. There may have originally been two matching windows downstairs, one of which was lost when the shop front was installed. In three centuries the house has played many different roles including post office, pork butchers and café, accumulating stories and layers of character..

The family in the picture are learning some of the house’s history from a poster in the window, one of 180 posters displayed around the village on the recent Secret Spittal weekend.


Across the river in Berwick, quite a few of the eighteenth century houses were built in matching, symmetrical pairs.  Over the years symmetry has been lost to practicality in successive repairs and alterations.  At first glance these two are still a matching pair but look again and the image becomes a ‘spot the difference’ puzzle.


Berwick Barracks, designed in the early eighteenth century by Nicholas Hawksmoor, shows a series of facades planned for perfect symmetry and balance.  It’s unfortunate that, seen from the town ramparts, the windows and gables of this side wing suggested a startled rabbit. 

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for the week – Symmetry – led me to an enjoyable rummage through my photos.  I found mirror symmetry from reflections, rotational symmetry from flowers and some grandly symmetrical parks and gardens.  Here’s a selection of buildings.


Click to view the gallery.

Pure symmetry may have a cool, detached beauty but often the asymmetrical interloper (tree, spire or human figure) is the spark that brings a picture alive.

* Have you noticed something strange about the upstairs windows in the first photo?  Two shine where they catch the light, the other two are matt black, painted on a blank wall.