Wednesday, 15 September 2010
The reference library in Croydon is part of this grand complex, a gloriously extravagant expression of Victorian municipal pride and aspiration. The last time I went in, I was pleased to find it quite wonderfully old-fashioned and unmodernised, complete with chained newspapers, wooden lecterns and dim book-lined galleries - but that was a long while ago, and I'm sure it's a very different story now. However the exterior survives unchanged, with its tall stained-glass windows and, above each, the names of various English worthies, literary and artistic, in threes on little scrolls - very Victorian. Mostly they are the names you'd expect - the likes of Shakespere [sic], Chaucer, Hogarth, Reynolds - but one trio is decidedly odd: Scott, Macaulay (with you so far) - and Tillotson. Who? And why? The only Tillotson of note I can unearth (apart from Johnny 'Poetry in Motion' Tillotson and it's unlikely to be him) is this 17th-century divine. Presumably he enjoyed a Victorian vogue - or perhaps he was a kinsman of the Mayor of Croydon. Who knows?