letterforms, Photography

St. Nicks


LESTARET-stnicks-1I recently passed the St. Nicholas Chapel in King’s Lynn and noticed that it was open to the public again. It is one of the towns collection of lovely old churches and has undergone some major restorations in recent years. It is one of those places that is no longer used for regular services, but reserved for special occasions, ceremonial and cultural events, and I had not been inside for many years, and as I had my camera with me, I decided to go and have a look around.

Those who are regular visitors and followers of this blog will know of my fondness (or obsession) with lettering, and old churches never disappoint in this regard.LESTARET-stnicks-2

Many of these images are from the floor stones and show a fantastic array of styles over the years. I love the latin, the antiquated language and spelling, and those odd turns of phrase like the one below – Samuel Clayton (Gentleman) – I’d like something like that carved upon my stone, maybe ‘weird gentleman’ or ‘work shy fop’ or something?

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Rumour has it that these stones inspired Daniel Defoe, or at least gave him his characters  name (Defoe did indeed visit the town), but given that ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was published in 1719, I’m not convinced. It must be quite nice for the Cruso family who still live in the town though!

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The oak beam roof is adorned with large carved angels, all different, many with musical instruments, and local trade tools. The stained glass windows demanded a colour shot which doesn’t quite fit in here, but it seemed churlish to show it in black and white…


So I’ll leave you with a skull – another subject I am rather partial to. This one is particularly elegant and just a little but on the grim side…


Design, ephemera

Beermattery #5


Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, this time focussing not on drinks, but the places that they’re from (with one exception!)  We’ll start with a single colour one sided mat from the Sheaf View, a place where I’ve spent many lost evenings, long before it became the splendid real ale pub which it is now!  I’m also pleased to say is still going strong!

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The next one is the real odd one out, because it’s not from a pub (unless I have been mislead!) Its nice to think that one had a coaster to place one’s brown ale during the service!


This one’s my favourite, not least because I remember when it was still called the Fiesta, but because of its many alter egos over the years! But also for the two Sheffield acts on the cabaret – Marti Cain (who won the talent show New Faeces* in 1975, beating Lenny henry and Victoria Wood) along with local funnyman Bobby Knutt (catchphrase “Eyup Knutty!) who is now probably more well known for his acting roles in Emmerdale and Coronation Street. By ‘eck, thi don’t meckum like that numoor!


And I’ll leave you with something a little more exotic than a 1970’s northern nite club…

More beermattery next time…

*New Faces was the forerunner to all this x-factor nonsense, and just like the modern shows, a few winners became famous and the rest didn’t, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing an advertisement at Butlins in Skegness during the summer season in 1982 for someone called Dougie ‘He’s Funny’ Fanshawe (2nd runner-up, New Faces 1977)
Show business; its a funny old game…




For I have known them all already, known them all: 
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I’m all Prufrocked out now.

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #4

Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, or rather, a collection of a collection! This time it’s Inde Coope’s Burton Ale in the spotlight. They appeared to have produced a number of different collectors series of beermats over the years, and this is an incomplete set celebrating Traditional Crafts…


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My Dad liked collecting different sets of mats and was particularly pleased when he completed them – unfortunately, this one is not quite there,  but there are other sets in his collection and I will definitely be featuring them all at some point!

More beermattery next time…


An Indian Delicacy


My dear friend Nick recently ventured out into India and returned with this very delicate, exquisitely painted leaf from an old book. We know nothing of its origin, but that doesn’t detract from the obvious visual qualities of this small (approx 210x125mm) frail rectangle of paper. The front and back images above are large scans and worth a click. For those whom even that is a click too far, here’s a few select close-ups!





At the end of last year I had the pleasure of doing some work for my long time friend Jon Lawrence. I have quite done a bit of stuff for Jon over the years, some of which can be seen here, but this was a little different.

As you may have guessed by now, I designed the cover for his new novella ‘Bisha’ and produced a number of incidental illustrations that are spread throughout the text – here are just a couple:
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I’ve included the whole back/front cover so you can read the ‘blurb’ about the story.


Bisha by Jon Lawrence is available at Amazon, along with some of his other books…


Designers in Britain (1949)

LESTARET-DJ-1Every so often libraries will ‘retire’ a number of books from their stacks, often because they are too worn to repair, or have not been borrowed for many years. Sometimes, the subject matter becomes irrelevant or superseded, authors and their viewpoints change, evolve or become obsolete. These days, many books only exist as digital files also. Alas.

If you are lucky and you like old books, some of them can be snapped up for a few quid before they are finally discarded to whatever sorry fate awaits them. This is one such book.

Originally issued in 1951 to the Royal College of Art central library, the book is a showcase of the best of British Design published in 1949, this was last signed out in 1999 and procured for the princely sum of three whole English pounds.

I present the following images without comment for your viewing pleasure…


Ok, so the images were presented without comment, but here’s one anyway.

This book is an accurate snapshot of a section of our culture in the years following WWII and shows how a country still in the grip of wartime deprivations (remember that rationing did not end until 1954 in the UK) was recovering and forging a new identity.

That no-one has signed out this book for almost 16 years doesn’t really surprise me, but does seem to reflect the current attitudes towards our design history.

Many thanks to Nick for the loan of this gem.

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #3

Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, this time focussing on just one drink – Babycham, which is remarkably still in business!

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There are also a couple of enormous barmats too, like this one that is four times the size of a regular one:


and this one, which is the other side of the one that started off this post, with a regular mat for scale!lestaret-beermats-large-2

More beermattery next time…

Adobe Illustrator, drawing


After the initial stages I sent a comprehensive image of the Moriarty’s Men logo to the men themselves:


They were interested in seeing other fonts for the ‘men’ and asked for much more complex styles, to which I convinced them that a more complex font would be (a) much less legible and (b) would not add anything of value to an already complex design. Nevertheless, I showed them a few alternatives:


They opted for the bottom font, and also asked for the scroll/banner to be roughened up a bit…


So the final design is…


There are several variations for a variety of applications…

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Just as soon as they have everything set up, I’ll post links so you can download their music, buy their ‘merch’ and generally start the next big ‘Beatlemania’ thing. Ok?

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #2

I have been foraging in my fathers beermat collection in what appears to be an unending process of categorising and sub-categorising (I should really get out more!) and thought I would share a few ‘golden oldies’ with you all. These are the old breweries, many of which are no longer with us, or exist only as brands in a multinational corporate portfolio. Alas.


Whitbread’s are still a major business though, but brewers no more. Wilsons, though, originally a Manchester brewery, has gone the way of many others and disappeared after a series of mergers and acquisitions…


Wards, an old Sheffield stalwart finally closed at the end of the twentieth century, but the brand has been relaunched, and whilst it is no longer made in Sheffield by Wards, its branding still retains the legend “Sheaf Brewery Sheffield” which is a bit naughty…


Stones is still available though, but has not retained any of the visual qualities of this single sided beermat from the late 1970’s/early 80’s! Cameron’s is also still brewing, but appears to have slightly higher aspirations than suggested here.


Wm. Younger’s still exists as a brand, but is now part of the Heineken\Carlsberg empire…

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