The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Finials, lightning rods & roof decor - 1

see more finials HERE
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Richelieu has quite a collection of decorative spikes on the roofscape. These features act both as lighting conductors , protecting the flammable timber constructions beneath, and as flamboyant decoration to the apexes of the steep slate roofs, so typical of 17 C French architecture.
We now all know that pointy iron sticks actually attract static electricity, and allow any lightning strikes to flow to the ground safely if they are connected to the earth by a thick copper bar. Benjamin Franklin is credited with proving that lightning is nothing but electricity in 1749, but this famous and dangerous experiment post-dates the construction of the town. Did the masons of old know that they protected their building by such devices?  Were they originally connected to the earth as required? Did they get the idea from the ancients? The romans?
Below; the porte de Chinon, the church's east front nave apex and the church's southern main obelisk. Lastly three epis - finials, spikes - in zinc at the works of SARL Merlot.


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1 comment:

Herb Koguchi said...

Hmm, indeed. It's an amazing piece of architecture, when you think about it. It's functional for the roof and beautiful at the same time.

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