Friday, November 1, 2013
Sweet and simple
Trim 18th-century brickwork, perhaps of 1717, the date on the rainwater heads, marks out the Old Sugar Loaf as a building of some consequence, and a plaque says that there has been an inn on this site in the centre of Dunstable since 1660. It was a first-class posting and coaching inn by the time of its 18th and 19th-century heyday, a place where travellers liked to stop, especially if their coach arrived in time for dinner – the early menus were said to be lavish. But what caught my eye of course was the sign, a gigantic conical sugar loaf placed atop the rather stripped-down, Regency-looking Doric portico. Eyecatching, bold, and literal, it does the job, I suppose, though it's hardly the most artful of the unusual English inn signs I've spotted in my travels.
The thin bands running around the cone seem to be the wires of fairy lights, which presumably enliven the scene at night. The idea of sparkling lights reminds me that the sugar loaf also looks like one of those 'volcano' fireworks that spark and splutter on bonfire night. Here's to architectural (and semiological) fireworks.