Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sint Salvator in Bruges

Bruges (Brugge in Flemish) is a well preseved medieval town in Belgium. It is so full of gothic monuments that the Cathedral is actually not considered the most important. Inside the Cathedral one finds many masterpieces of art, paintings and tapestries, while calligraphy is hidden somewhere in the corners. The calligraphy is, however, remarcable. Many inscriptions are written in Dutch, which I don't understand, but most include dates. The oldest gothic inscription reproduced here includes the date 1435. I could not see, however, any dates in the decorative fractur gothic inscriptions. Of the italic inscriptions (which are actually captions under bigger pictures) the older one is dated 1551, the later 1643. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Wheathampstead is a small village in Hertfordshire, north of London. Its Gothic church is rather unremarkable, but it seems to have more interesting calligraphy than the great abbey of St. Albans, which is only five miles away. The calligraphy seen in this church is a cross-section through the ages. Not all of it is well exhibited: I had to roll up a carpet to see the inscription dated from the eleventh year of the reign of king Henry VIII.
I like especially the epitaph of Alice Bailey. To our modern eyes it may look like ordinary printed typeface, but actually it is a fine piece of calligraphy. Although written in the classical capitalis elegans, the repetition of the definitely unclassical "y" gives the whole inscription a specific rhythm.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Arques la Bataille

Arques la Bataille is a snall village in Normandy just outside the port of Dieppe. It is known in the history of France mostly because of the battle in which king Henry VI defeated his opponents and definitely ended the religious wars. It is now a small village but it must have been quite affluent at one time, judging on the scale its parish church was being rebuilt. The original church was Romanesque and the main part still is. During the Gothic era it was apparently decided that the church would be in the new style on a much larger scale. The choir and one tower were built anew. Later the funds apparently dried out and the church now stands half done - very much like the Cologne Cathedral stood for many centuries. It has also some epitaphs with fine Gothic and Renaissance calligraphy. I find especially interesting the proportions of the Renaissance antiqua script informing about some foundation of M. Antoinebedieu. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lichen calligraphy in Ayot St. Lawrence

Ayot St. Lawrence is a village in Hertfordshire in England that attracts certain number of visitors because this is where Bernard Shaw lived and his house is now a museum. I, however, was more interested in some tombstones in a parish graveyard, especially those where lichens had a special effect on calligraphy. The tombstones aren't very old, both reproduced here are from the mid nineteenth century. I suppose this is the best age for the lichen effect, older stones are more weathered and usually hardly legible (unless renovated), newer ones are perhaps still looked after and too clean. Both tombstones are of the members of Pinnock family.


Monday, September 6, 2010


Far out in the unfashionable backwaters of Great Britain, right in the middle of the wastelands of the Pennines, about half way between the town of Lancaster on the West coast and the town of Middlesborough on the East coast, lies a tiny and utterly insignificant little village of Bainbridge. Therein, just by the road that winding between hills joins the two aforementioned towns, stands an old and not very frequented inn named Rose and Crown. Well, really it is a perfectly ordinary English pub, its only extraordinary feature consists of two pieces of calligraphy hanging on its walls. To be more precise, they hang on the walls of a corridor leading to the "gents" and "ladies"; I suppose the owner considers them to be utterly insignificant pieces of decoration. For a calligraphy enthusiast, however, they are not insignificant at all. They are two documents of legal nature written in 1840, as the first line clearly states. It must have been unfashionable backwaters even then, the style of writing makes an impression of being much older than mid nineteenth century.

The documents are huge pieces of paper covered in tiny writing. Here I reproduce a few close ups to appreciate the lettering.