Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Newbury, Berkshire


Hart warming

The traditional pub sign hanging from its iron bracket is one of the most familiar highlights of England’s towns and villages. Even in these times of pub closures and corporate domination, there are still plenty of good ones, painted with vigour and originality, to stimulate our eyes and our taste buds. But I’ve recently noticed one or two less conventional signs that take different forms and are also eyecatching. Sadly, some are on buildings that are public houses no more.

This example is in the Market Place in Newbury and marks a building that was the White Hart Inn from 1627 to 1951, when it was converted to offices. In the early-20th century the building was emblazoned with lettering in big capitals, declaring that this was a ‘FAMILY AND COMMERCIAL INN’ and a ‘POSTING HOUSE’ with ‘LIVERY STABLES’ round the back. Now just the pictorial sign remains, not hanging from a bracket but fixed to the wall.

I don’t know how old this elegant hart is. I’ve seen an image of the building dating from around 1900 that shows the creature facing the other way, so he must have been painted some time in the 20th century. He makes a charming landmark, enlivening a plain white wall, near a corner of the Market Place, a visual reward for those who look up as they pass by.

9 comments:

emma said...

I have a hunch, but no actual proof, that this sign may have been painted by Carrington. She painted a number of local pub signs between 1916 and 1923 when she and Lytton Stratchey were living at Tidmarsh Mill - not a million miles away from Newbury. It is stylistically very similar to The Roebuck she painted at Tilehurst in 1922.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Emma: That is fascinating, thank you. It opens a whole new avenue of enquiry: inns signs painted by (or at least attributed to) notable artists. So much the better if lunch is involved in the research.

Thud said...

OT. but I have the first of my boards and finials up at my site for you critical eye, I promise they will improve!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thud: Nice! And they're getting more complicated? I look forward to further installments!

Thud said...

Thanks Phillip, I already have another bit of the ongoing woodwork refurb for you to see.

Abby Rogers said...

Thanks for this en-deer-ing post!

I see that you're interested in photos of Scotland! Have you checked out www.PictureBritain.com? It's my blog for britophiles, and it's full of Scottish pictures, recipes, videos, articles, and more! Maybe you'd like this post:
http://www.picturebritain.com/2010/06/sunset-over-arisaig.html

Cheers,
Abby

Jon Dudley said...

Lovely post! Talking of Inn signs painted by the famous...there's always the Burne Jones Memaid sign for his own private tavern in his Rottingdean home where he entertained the good and great - obviously avoiding the inconvenience of visiting the Black Horse, Plough, or any other 'real' pubs in the village.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Abby: Lovely pictures: thank you.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Jon: Thanks, as ever, for your interesting bit of Sussex lore!