Aesop’s Fables gives Banham drinkers food for thought

For some the pub is a place in which to reflect on life's little ups and downs.

But drinkers at The Garden House, on the outskirts of Banham, are receiving more food for their thoughts thanks to skills of a retired sign artist.

Creative painter Terry Coppin has decorated the inside of the historic pub with a series of images depicting Aesop's Fables – a set of ancient tales about animals, each of which harbours an important lesson on life.

Owner Barry Tunmore had asked his friend to brighten up his bar with a mural, but Mr Coppin decided to take on a more ambitious and unique project.

The painter, who has collected hundreds of books on the famous stories, took two and a half days to illustrate the walls with 10 pictures and accompanying rhymes – also incorporating some of his own fables.

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The 72-year-old, from Bunwell, near Wymondham, said: 'I have always been interested in Aesop. I like the morals. You can tell an Aesop Fable to someone who is three or 83. Because of their animal connections as well they don't offend people.'

Mr Coppin spent more than 40 years as a professional sign painter decorating vehicles, aircraft, steam engines, shops and pubs.

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He retired seven years ago but is occasionally persuaded to pick up his paint brushes again for friends. Last year, he created a colourful sign for The Jolly Farmers pub, in Forncett St Peter, which is also owned by Mr Tunmore.

However few painters are left to follow in his footsteps as advanced computer software takes the place of the traditional trade.

He said: 'About 20 years ago a number of people asked me to take on their son or daughter to learn the trade but soon after that it became apparent that others wouldn't follow because everything is computerised now. You push a few buttons and it's done. There aren't many people like me left – that's the way it's gone.'

Mr Tunmore, who has owned The Garden House since 1969, said the new artwork has been popular with punters who have toured the walls to take in the meanings of the colourful paintings.

'I think they are very good. If you have a picture, people will look at it once and then forget about it, but with these people come in and ask what the meanings are,' he said.

'I had wanted a mural but Terry said what about having something a bit different and will be a bit of a talking point. I think they are better.'

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