Monday, August 15, 2022

Beckford, Worcestershire


Marking time, marking distance

For those who thought that the cast-iron milestone in one of my recent posts was not quite architectural enough for a blog called ‘English Buildings’, here’s something with a more ‘built’ quality. It’s a stone mile marker in the form of a column, put up in 1887 to coincide with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in that year. The orb and crown that top the column build this royal commemoration into the design, and there’s an inscription on the base with the date of the celebration too. This inscription was joined in 1953 with the words ‘ELIZABETH II CORONATION’, added when the column was restored that coronation year.

The base also carries mileages to various nearby places – among the losg list of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire villages are larger towns, whose names are picked out with underlining, so that travellers over longer distances can see easily likely destinations such as Gloucester, Cheltenham, Evesham and Pershore. These are not that clear unless you look closely – I don’t know whether the names were originally picked out in darker paint, or if the passing rider or coach driver was expected to dismount or alight and give the stone close scrutiny.

This small bit of village design is thoughtfully put together and whoever conceived it had to adapt traditional architectural forms to accommodate the inscriptions – you’d normally expect the column to be taller in relation to the base. The result is oddly proportioned, but it works as both loyal salute and durable waymarker. And you’ll have to go a long way to find another like it.

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