Saturday, October 28, 2017

Salisbury, Wiltshire

On high

When in Salisbury I always look up at the sign of the White Hart Hotel, a particularly lovely three-dimensional inn sign that stands out against the sky. The building it crowns is a large inn of about 1820 with an enormous Doric portico, but there has actually been an inn here since at least 1635. The use of the white hart as a badge goes back further still – it was the device of King Richard II and that fact accounts for the crown around the creature’s neck.

On this sign the crown and chain look as they have been made of metal and attached to the figure of the hart. The fact that the antlers are a different colour makes them stand out too, as if the sculptor had used a real pair of antlers. although this is no doubt the effect of a paint job.*

From ground level, everything is less distinct than in my photograph, which was taken with a zoom lens at full extension. Most passers-by are therefore unaware of the details of the sign. More often than not in my experience, the creature appears in silhouette, in which form he is still an effective marker, enabling one to single out the building from some distance away and forming a bold effect for an imposing building.

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*I'm not sure of the material used for the hart itself. The rough surface looks stone-like, but this may be the effect of a coat or two of masonry paint, plus grime. Could it be Coade stone?


bazza said...

I suppose the vertical chain link is to stabilise the sign but it does look a bit odd. Surely it's not an original element?
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Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

I believe the chain is an integral part of the badge of King Richard II - in some depictions, it passes between the legs in an artistic sweep.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, the chain is part of all the depictions I have seen of Richard's badge. The chain is not usually attached to anything at its 'free' end, so it makes sense that it hangs vertically here.