Sunday, July 17, 2016

Great Brington, Northamptonshire

On high

My affection for thatched buildings, for English pubs, and for those three-dimensional pub signs that sometimes mark hostelries such as the White Hart at Hingham or the White Lion at Upton-on-Severn comes together here. The Althorp Coaching Inn is an attractive stone building with a thatched roof where I had an enjoyable lunch recently. Walking back along the village street a bit later I noticed this charming thatched stag over the porch. He’s a cousin, clearly, of the animals that thatchers mount on roof ridges. People treat these as personal signatures, bits of local distinctiveness, marks of ownership, or just admirable whimsy.* But here at Great Brington, the stag is not on top of the thatched part of the roof at all, but surmounts the tiled section above the entrance. He’s not a name sign either – the pub is known as the Althorp Coaching Inn, and also bears the name Fox and Hounds, written in smaller letters like a subtitle on the main pub sign. Not apparently relevant then, but admirable anyway, and a memorable bit of British folk art.

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*See my earlier post, Brush with the lore, which cites Dorothy Hartley’s excellent old book, Made in England (1939); Hartley’s researches threw up these varied explanations.


Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

The phrase "folk art" suggests that it might be in some way "primitive" or look home-made. I don't think this would apply here! This looks like "art" pure and simple. Something sophisticated and well done - like your photos!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you! I don't mean to imply a lack of sophistication by the term 'folk art'. But, I grant you, it's a rather vague phrase that writers sometime use to suggest art that isn't part of today's mainstream of easel painting, printmaking, sculpture, etc. Not the most useful distinction really...