J. Bolding, Grosvenor Works, London


One of my favourite examples of architectural lettering found in London: a beautifully designed and constructed example of  letterforms that are influenced by Art Nouveau, with their expressive curling elements. This wonderful ceramic plaque is located on the former Grosvenor Works of J. Bolding & Sons, who, as the lettering reveals, manufactured a range of metal and ceramic sanitary wares. Founded in 1882, the company were known for making items of the highest quality to elegant designs using innovative technology. Examples of their work remain highly collectable today

Location: Davies Street, Mayfair, London, UK.


Hahnemann Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary (former), Liverpool


This lettering is found on the side entrance of the former Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary in Liverpool. The lettering, cut in relief in a narrow sans serif, sits below a stone pediment. The three-storey building was designed and built in 1867 in the Queen Anne revival style under the patronage of sugar merchant Henry Tate (later Tate & Lyle Co.), to a design by the Liverpool architects F. & G. Holme.

Location: Hope Street, Liverpool, UK.

Arthur H. Lee & Sons, Birkenhead


I took this photograph some time ago, of the cover of a catalogue of fabric swatches (published 1929) from a company previously based in Birkenhead, Merseyside – partly because I liked the hand drawn design, but mainly because Birkenhead is my home town. I have since mislaid the brochure, which irritates me hugely!

The company was Arthur H. Lee and Sons who developed innovative methods of producing fabrics on power looms. Established in the mid-1880s in Bolton, they moved to Warrington in 1888, and then to Birkenhead in 1908. Though the UK company closed in 1970, an American branch continues as Lee Jofa in New York.

Co-operative Society, Bridge Road, Lancaster


Another of the lovely emblematic plaques of the Co-operative Society in Lancaster. This one from 1904 is located at the top of Bridge Road in what was formally a corner shop. L&S on the scrollwork refers to the Lancaster and Skerton branch of the Society. Skerton, found just north of the River Lune on which the city is located, was once a separate hamlet. I particularly love the bee cut into the base of the hive and the interwoven numerals.

Location: Bridge Road, Lancaster, UK



One of my favourite examples of environmental lettering found in Lancaster. These large stone letters were designed and cut by local sculpture Alan Ward as part of the celebrations leading up to the millennium. I love the way the river periodically washes over them, leaving bits of detritus scattered across and around them. It’s an interesting contrast between the precise, expertly worked letters and the chaotic material that often collects there.

They can be found on the south bank of the River Lune near by to the Millennium Bridge.

Location: St George’s Quay, Lancaster, UK.

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Old Dispensary, Castle Hill, Lancaster


Set within an ornate frame, this badly degraded inscription (ILC 1845) is found on the frontage of this elegant building, and refers to former occupiers, John (1784-1851) and Celia Leach (1787-1851). The building was originally a dispensary (established by public subscription 1785) that administered basic medical care to the town’s poor until 1832.

It’s been suggested that the frame originally held a much more elaborate plaque with a tableau depicting the Good Samaritan, and which is now set into an entrance of Lancaster’s general hospital, The Royal Lancaster Infirmary. However, the Infirmary plaque has always seemed to me to be too big to fit the available space. I’d be interested if anyone has considered this or knows if the plaque was originally set on this building on Castle Hill.

Location: Castle Hill, Lancaster, UK.

Artisan’s cottage, Castle Hill, Lancaster

castleHill1739This early example of lettering is set above the doorway to a cottage on Castle Hill Lancaster. Dated 1739, the inscription refers to Richard (1682-1763) and Anne (nee Dickson, -1785.) Thomas.

I highly recommend Emmeline Garnett’s excellent publication The Dated Buildings of South Lonsdale. (2007, The Centre for North-West Regional Studies, Lancaster University), from which has recorded and researched many of the earliest examples of dated buildings in the area.

Location: Castle Hill Lancaster, UK.