Nelson Stair (altervatively known as the Navy Staircase) are a flight of Georgian steps sited within Somerset House in London’s Aldwych.
The first three pictures show the unusual sweep the stairs have – despite looking as if there is a twin flight of stairs they’re just not symetrical and that gives the unique look plus a feature that’s barely discussed.
The stairs were designed by Sir William Chambers and built about 1775-76. Alas the original was bombed in WWII. The present flight is from 1953, its a rebuild by Sir Albert Richardson that was made possible by plans found in the collection of Sir John Soane.
I’ve taken many pictures of this staircase in the past and have known that it had a special arrangement which when seen from a particular position, looks very much like a heart. Its quite difficult to capture with a normal lens.
This feature is almost never talked about. I have no idea whether Sir William Chambers intended on the stairs looking like a heart when viewed perpendicularly – in fact I did a search and nothing of the sort is indicated.
Perhaps the reason for this matter not being debated is it doesnt quite actually form a heart. Or does it? Armed with a ultra-wide angle lens I set to find out whether this was true or not. The above picture shows what most people will see – an incomplete heart shape.
The one I took below does almost show an almost exact heart shape. The view is not perpendicular and if it was the heart outline would not be visible. Who knows, perhaps the perfect shape is only possible when viewed from above, or with an anamorphic lens?