Wednesday, July 13, 2011
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.