Saturday, March 11, 2017
The same, but different
Striding through Banbury in the rain after my visit to Hanwell, I made a mental notes of the buildings I’d look at more closely and photograph properly on my next visit, which will be, I hope, in drier weather. As the rain abated for a moment, though, I did stand briefly in front of the Olde Reine Deer Inn to contemplate the sign.
I remember this sign from forty years ago. Its wooden bracket was then by far the biggest I’d seen, and on my recent visit I was pleased to see it still in place. Back then I wasn’t so interested in letterforms, so I was agreeably surprised by the inscription on the arm – ‘Hook Norton Ales’ – with its chunky letters and, especially, those Arts and Craftsy interlocking and dotted Os, each one with a slight protrusion at the midpoint.
Looking at the photograph I quickly took before the rain began again, I wished I’d given more of an impression of how the sign stretches right across to the middle of the road. This sent me looking online, where I found an old postcard image, presumably from the late-19th or very early 20th century. This shows the sign in context. It also confirms the early presence of the heavy structure with its curving strut (this plain and unlettered in the old image) and the fact that the hanging sign, back then as now, was all lettering – no image of a reindeer to be seen. The lovely crowning ironwork is present, too.
There was an intermediate period, however, a few years ago, when the sign was pictorial and neither the curving strut nor the fancy ironwork above the sign were there. So the sign’s current form is a restoration. Even if the structure would work without the strut, I for one find it more aesthetically pleasing with it. And any opportunity to advertise the excellent products of the Hook Norton Brewery is, as far as I’m concerned, a bonus worth raising a glass to.