March 9 2014 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
For 40 years, visitors to the Norfolk village of Spixworth have been greeted by the ornate oak sign which sits close to the village hall.
But now the hand carved, two-sided village landmark has been given a new lease of life by a Norfolk artist who specialises in restoring old village signs.
Jessica Perry, 50, from Blickling, has spent four weeks repainting the sign, in Crostwick Lane, because the structure was suffering from years of wear and tear and needed restoring.
She said the sign reflects the village’s rural heritage with the church being depicted, fronted by lots of animals, while the early settlements at the village are also represented.
Underneath that, the sign shows all the coats of arms of the families based in the village, dating back to 1066.
On the other side of the sign, there is a carving of Spixworth Village Hall with a nightwatchman in front of it and four other coats of arms, while there is also a horse driven hearse on the sign, which the artist believed could refer to deaths caused by the plague.
Her job involved clearing out the rotten wood before treating the sign with wood preserver and hardener before the 4ft high and 2.5ft wide sign could be repainted.
The freelance artist has worked on other village and town signs across the county, including at Aylsham, while she also completes education projects for schools across Norfolk and creates sculptures and 3D work.
Her other projects include running workshops within museums and at public events linking projects to a given theme or set of artefacts
She said: “Some of the signs are falling apart. The Aylsham one was also in a very bad state, though the Spixworth sign was not so bad, though parts were rotting away.
“It is interesting to undertake the restoration of village signs because you can learn a lot about the village’s history,” she added.
However, Spixworth’s sign is not the only one in the county to attract attention, with many other villages boasting signs of significant public interest, including Swaffham and Reymerston, where the sign was unveiled by the aviator Wing Commander Ken Wallis and includes a depiction of his autogyro Little Nellie.
Do you have a favourite Norfolk village sign? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org