Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leominster, Herefordshire


I took these pictures a couple of years ago in one of the main streets in the town of Leominster, Herefordshire. I was inspired to have another look at the photographs when I saw an interesting post on the blog Caroline’s Miscellany about a printer’s shop in York.

At that time I first saw these figures, the shop was a delicatessen and, although I wanted to go inside and ask about the charming figures on either side of the shop sign, the place was full of people buying olives and unsalted butter, and the last thing the staff would have wanted was someone going on about the shop front. So I thought, ‘I’ll come back another day, at a quieter time, and ask then.’ So I returned a few months later to find that the place was no longer a deli, but an antiques shop. ‘Aha, I thought, just the people to be interested in my antiquarian enquiries.’ But the shop was closed, and was still closed when I came back later the same day. I made a third visit, a few months later still, and the shop was completely empty.

So I can’t tell you how old these figures are, or what they’re meant to represent, although clearly no printer’s devilry has been at work here. Some of the features of the frontage (the rosettes, for example) give it an early-19th century feel, but it could equally be a 20th-century design in homage to the earlier period. And as for the figures – I was going to compare them to classical caryatids, until an architect I know, when I showed him one of the pictures, pointed out that they’re more like ship’s figureheads, which indeed they are. But the age of these figures doesn’t matter so much as the facts that someone took trouble over them and that they still make us smile.


CarolineLD said...

Those really are lovely! The man in particular doesn't look too comfortable, but his arm musculature is impressive.

Thank you also for the kind link.

Medieval Muse said...

Perhaps they are the ghosts of shops past since the businesses seem to come and go. They are spectacular!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you both for your comments. I like the idea of ghosts of shops past - so many shop fronts get completely obliterated when a new business takes over, so it;s good when they can survive.

Anonymous said...

do you know what street in leominster this was?

Philip Wilkinson said...

I think they are in Broad Street.