Roman Capitals

ada9a09acea936d776a6f55c82778c43_LLettering at the base of Trajan’s Column at one end of Trajan’s Forum in Rome is regarded by many as one of the best example of Roman Capitals. These majestical letters, with beautiful proportions, are one of the purest guides for any who want to study the proportions of Roman Capitals. On a recent trip to Rome, I was determined to take the best photograph I could of this block of lettering. For many years this Forum was closed for restoration (it is the other side of the road to the main Forum), but I had read that Trajan’s Forum was now open and so I could stand in front of the column and get a good shot.

 

Lettering at the base of Trajan's ColumnGood fortune was clearly not smiling on me, as when we were there it was closed yet again, with no date for re-opening, and this was the best photograph of the lettering I was able to get – not what I had planned at all, and only from a side angle. The letters are not narrow as they look here, but grand and rounded. Notice also the way in which a later roof for a porch of an access door has been cut into the last line of the lettering. Interestingly, which you may just be able to make out here, the height of the letters on the top line is greater than the next, and so on until the bottom line. This is because the letters were designed to be viewed from the ground, and by having larger letters at the top, they would look all the same.

Triumphal Arch of SeptimiusThere are examples of stunning Roman Capitals all over Rome (including all the modern street names). This is the triumphal Arch of Septimius, just across the road from Trajan’s Forum in the main Forum. It is best viewed, as here, by not going into the Forum itself, but climbing up the path behind the Vittorio Emmanuel monument. The letters were originally bronze and you can make out in close-up the small round darker areas which indicate the attaching pins.

Lettering on one of the tombs in the Via Appia, RomeUndaunted by inaccessibility to Trajan’s Column, I knew that there were really good examples of Roman lettering attached to the tombs along the Via Appia, some way out of the city centre and a long walk, but certainly worth a visit. This is just one example. The letters are beautifully cut in marble, and generally their proportions are good – although the letter N is rather too wide in most examples. However, spacing is not always as good as the letter-forms, lines 9 and 11 being examples of letters pushed too tightly together. David Kindersley, the great letter-cutter, used to say that a bad space is worse than a bad letter. See my Calligraphy Clips on spacing.

Pantheon, RomeThe Pantheon, the temple to all gods, has some majestical Roman lettering along the top of it. From this you can see how wonderfully clear the letter-forms are. We were standing quite a long way away yet it is clear that Agrippa was involved and it was made (FECIT)!

 

 

Rome street signEven road signs around building sites look good in Rome when Roman Capitals are used, but if we’re also looking at spacing, slightly blur your eyes. The ROM is fine, but perhaps the letter ‘A’ is slightly too far to the right. It is the ‘PIT’, though, in the middle of ‘Capitale’ which really stands out. The letters ‘I’ and ‘T’ need to be further to the right, and join up more with ‘ALE’. But this is being really picky when such a good use is made of this wonderful lettering style.

 

Diagram of Roman CapitalsSo what are the proportions for Roman Capitals shown in all these examples? Allowing for the fact that letters need to breath, and don’t always conform, generally speaking the letters in Roman Capitals are regarded as being based on a circle that can be encased within a square, as shown here. Obviously the letter O is that circle, and Q too with its tail (notice it poking out to the right). The letters C, D, and G are also formed from parts of that circle. You can trace them with your finger over the red lines.

 

Asymmetrical letters, then, are narrower, and the width of half of a square, as shown on the left of the diagram. These are B, E, F, J, K, L, P, R and S.

The odds are the letters I and W. Obviously the letter I is a vertical line. The Romans, very sensibly, had nothing to do with the letter W and it is an awkward letter. Nowadays it is regarded as two very slightly narrower Vs.

HCA Awards logoTo see how Roman Capitals can be made to sing, look at this wonderful example of lettering from Tom Perkins for the Heritage Crafts Awards. THIS is how Roman Capitals should look when they are made into a distinctive personal style.

But lettering should not have a rigid a straight jacket, but room to allow it to breath, so the letter R has a tail that sensibly extends beyond that half a square and the top bowl is larger than that of the letter P, the top and bottom bowls of the letters S and B are not equal in size, and so on. Studying the proportions of Roman Capitals is a good first step, but keeping rigidly to them is not the best second step!

Books you might find useful:

Patricia Lovett, The British Library Companion to Calligraphy, Illumination and Heraldry

Patricia Lovett, The Historical Source Book for Scribes

Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley, The Annotated Capital

Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley, Letters Slate Cut

Tom Perkins, The Art of Letter Carving in Stone

Edward M Catich, The Origin of the Serif

L C Evetts, Roman Lettering

The Church of Saints Michael and Gaetano, Florence

IMG_1319It’s not often that you see a view or a vista that absolutely takes your breath away but this happened when we visited Florence and went into the church of Saints Michael and Gaetano in the Piazza Antinori. Hanging from the arches, stretched along horizontal borders, and placed over shaped inserts in the walls were exquisitely embroidered panels, each one tailored specifically to the spaces.

 

IMG_1322The effect was unbelievable as the flowered borders stretched high along the church and hung under the arches.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1325The sacristan was in the church and I managed to find out about the embroideries. They were apparently made in the early eighteenth century, and it is only recently that they were re-discovered folded up carefully in a store room. This is a close up of the hanging in front of the pulpit.

 

 

IMG_1324It took them quite a while to work out what went where as there were no instructions! However, everything was very carefully made so that it fitted exactly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1353This can be seen from the side view of the pulpit hanging here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1354Imagine trying to work out what went where with the set of embroidered hangings in this area of the church!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1320The hangings around the altar are particularly fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1334Here in close up it’s possible to see the exquisite craftsmanship that went into their construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1332But also to note that they are in dire need of conservation. The weft threads are almost completely worn through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1331There are lots of examples of gold thread work as here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1343Every area seems to have a specially shaped and fitted embroidery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1342We were told that it takes three whole days for the hangings to be fixed around the church and three days again for them to be taken down.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1335Apparently they put the hangings up for the first week of July for special church celebrations and then take them down a week or so later. We were just so fortunate to have stumbled on the church and this most amazing spectacle, when we did.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1348If you’re in Florence at that time, do make sure that you call in and have your eyes delighted by this stunning work!

The Siege of Caerlaverock

IMG_2834Caerlaverock Castle is distinctive in many ways – for a start it is triangular! It is also distinctive in that it was the site of a siege between the attacking King Edward I of England and the defending Scots in 1300. In the grand scheme of things, this battle would be relatively insignificant but for the fact that the campaign was recorded in a poem in French by a herald, and this text has come down to us. When I was learning the craft, some years ago now, I wrote out this poem in translation and bound it into a book.The first page here shows Edward I’s seal with him depicted as a knight brandishing a sword. The title lettering is in Lombardic capitals and written and painted in shell gold.

 

 

IMG_2839I then wrote out the poem and painted in colour all the coats of arms of the participants according to the blazon (word description) as in the text. The first line of the verse on the right explains that Henry Tyes’ banner was ‘lily-white with rose-red chevron’, and this is shown at the end of the top row of banners. The background is white with an inverted ‘v’ – the chevron. I was very much into diapering at the time (creating a background pattern) so the white has a grey swirling design. William Lattimer’s banner, though, was ‘crimson a cross paty or’, and this is a red background with a cross with fleur-de-lis ends, and in ‘or’, the Norman-French for gold. I used shell gold throughout the book, which is why it is a bit thin in places (it required a lot of gold!).

IMG_2835On this page, Earl de Grey’s banner was ‘in pieces six of silver and blue’, well actually the ‘pieces’ are stripes, as can be seen in the second banner from the left along the bottom row. And the banner of Robert de Monhaut ‘high spirit him to heights of honour urged – raised aloft an azure banner with a silver lion charged’ (the English translation of the poem can be a bit contrived!) is to the right – blue with a white (silver) lion.

 

 

 

IMG_2841Here is an enlargement of a section of one of the pages, with Roger de Mortaigne’s banner of a gold background and six blue lioncels (little lions) ‘double-queued’, or with two tails. And also ‘Handsome Huntercombe’ had an ermine background to his shield (white with the black ermine tails inserted in slits for decoration) and two red ‘gemelles’ – horizontal double lines.

 

IMG_2838The actual design and layout of the book was a real challenge in that I had somehow to marry up the paintings with the text, and this wasn’t always easy, which is shown here. A whole page giving details of the battle but no shields actually described. The shields are, of course, for those who were below in status to those who could bear banners. And the humble foot soldiers, who no doubt did most of the fighting, were not recorded in any way!

 

 

 

IMG_2836 2The lettering is in Chinese liquid ink, which is a dense black, and the writing style a sort of upright Italic. I wrote the names below the shields and banners in vermilion Chinese stick ink, which I ground on a slate inkstone and mixed with water. The actual names in the text were written with the same ink but in Gothic Black Letter which made them stand out (perhaps a bit too much, but I was learning!).

As my course also included book binding, I bound the book myself in black leather, and gold stamped the title on the spine.

 

 

caerlaverock-gatehouseThe castle can be visited by the public now and although it is in ruins it is possible to see how much of a challenge this must have been to the English, although the Scots, despite their seemingly impregnable castle, were defeated. There’s more about the poem here.

 

St Clement Danes and the RAF

st-clement-danes-geographSt Clement Danes, an ‘island’ church in the Strand in London, is thought to be situated on a previous church founded by the Danes in the ninth century; it is named after St Clement, patron saint of mariners. The other island church is St Mary-le-Strand and they are both situated on islands in the middle of the road. The building was completed to a design by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682 but was badly damaged by the Blitz of London during the Second World War, and it was only restored in 1958. There is some dispute at to whether this is the ‘Bells of St Clements’ in the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’ or whether that church is St Clement Eastcheap.

 

641DFA22_5056_A318_A87B4CAFF2FA914CThe church is the Royal Air Force Church mainly as a result of an appeal for funds for the rebuilding after the war. The Welsh slate floor of the church is engraved with the badges of over 800 RAF groups (stations, squadrons etc), and there is also a memorial to the Polish airmen who died in service during the war.

3-st-clement-danes-book-of-remembrance11Along the aisles are ‘shrines of remembrance’ – illuminated cases which display the Books of Remembrance for those who lost their lives in service to the country. There are eleven books displayed; the first book, nearest the altar, contains the names of those who died before the RAF came into being. Books two to nine have the names of those who lost their lives in the second World War, book ten contains the names from VJ day to 2013, and the eleventh book is from April 2013. The pages are turned every day by a turner that looks a little like a military sword (see on the left in this photo).

Sheila WatersIn my book The Art and History of Calligraphy (published 2017) I feature one of these pages with names written by the great Sheila Waters (se right). Sheila was one of a handful of the best scribes in the country, including Dorothy Mahoney, who took part in this immense project supervised by Alfred Fairbank. Sheila said: ‘I wrote a lot for the St Clement Danes’ Roll of Honour. It amounted to about 33,000 names over a period of six years, during which I had two children so it had to be fitted in with changing nappies and feeding babies!’ Her, and the other scribes’, precise rhythmic script is a fitting memorial to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Cosmati pavements

Cosmati pavement, Westminster Abbey

The Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey, laid down in 1268 on the orders of Henry III, was covered by a carpet for over 100 years. It has recently been restored and the wonderful colours and riot of swirls and whirls has now been revealed. The pavement is particularly special because it is one of the very few in the UK and the only one in such a complete state. (There is an excellent website with much more about the Westminster Cosmati pavement, how it was restored, the lettering, and the history on this link.)

cosmati_inner1The pavement is 7·5 m square and in the Sacrarium or Sanctuary, butting up against the three steps going up to the High Altar. This position must have indicated its importance and significance when the floor was laid. It’s on this pavement that the throne will be placed and the next king will be crowned. Interestingly, during restoration it was found that many of the stones were antique and were salvaged from Roman buildings, presumably in Italy. It is also different from other Cosmati pavements because the background is dark Purbeck marble, rather then white Italian marble as with all other Cosmatesque pavements

Santa Maria MaggioreIt was, in fact, in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore (a splendid building and certainly worth a visit if you are in Rome) that I first noticed the floor, and was intrigued by the patterns and the design, and wanted to find out more. An enlargement of the floor in this church in Rome is on the right.

 

Monreale Cathedral

Seven members and four generations of the creative Cosmati family based in Rome worked from before 1190 to 1303 and made decorative floors, pulpits, thrones, choir screens and tombs for churches. Colourful and sometimes patterned pieces of stone were cut into geometric shapes of triangles, circles, squares and rectangles and laid in a matrix of white marble. (Right: Monreale Cathedral)

 

Santa Maria in Trastevere, RomeThe first work of the Cosmati family was by Lorenzo Cosmati in a church in Fabieri in 1190, and the last recorded work was by Deodato who died in 1303.Their name gave rise to the style of pavements which are now in a number of churches, such as the Church of Santa Maria Travestere on the right which is an impressive display of wonderful patterns and colour.

 

Two Temple PlaceAnd you don’t have to travel to Italy  to see another great Cosmati pavement. There is one at Two Temple Place, which was built for William Waldorf Astor in 1895. Now the house is a gallery and open only during exhibitions. There is a lot of glorious craft in the house, so it is worth visiting if you can. (Right: taken from Two Temple Place written by Barbara Bryant, used by kind permission)

San Cataldo church PalermoIt does seem quite amazing that this one family, the Cosmatis, working for just over 100 years in the Middle Ages, gave rise to something that is still in evidence today and wanted by some of the richest people in the world in the 19th century for their town house. These pavements are walked over by thousands of people yet also delighting those who care to pause and look down. (Right: San Cataldo Church, Palermo.)

Memento mori – remember (that you have to ) die

DSCN6043-300x214Children dressing up as skeletons, skulls made out of sweet jelly and white chocolate bones are all part of Hallowe’en, but, as with so many of our customs, these sorts of symbols are not new. It was thought that the veil between heaven and earth was particularly thin on the night before All Saints’ or All Hallows’ Day, and so it was then timely for us to remember our own mortality and to consider our life on earth. All Saints’ /Hallows’ Day is, of course, November 1st, and the evening before that All Hallows’ Evening, or Hallowe’en. Nowhere are we encouraged more to think about the afterlife than with memento mori – remember you have to die. And this is particularly true with some tombs such as that for Dean Fotherby at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, erected in the seventeenth century (see right).

TombStJohnsChester_mOn Dean Fotherby’s tomb, the bones are in complete disarray, however on the tomb of Diana Warburton at St John the Baptist Church in Chester, erected also in the seventeenth century, her skeleton is modestly draped revealing only her upper chest and head and then her feet, (although her feet do seem rather large for her body and look a little as if they’re wrapped in bandages).

 

 

 

9900350Mediæval Books of Hours also included a memento mori, as they contained, usually towards the end of the book, the Office of the Dead. This Office was recited before the Requiem or funeral Mass, and is a rather long section. The illustration to this Office in a Book of Hours usually depicted death or burial, with a shrouded corpse, or, as here, a draped coffin. The fact that Books of Hours were for lay people ensured that the owners would be familiar with the words of the Office which encouraged a reflection on mortality.

 

 

allegory_of_the_vanitiesDeath was also featured in some paintings. Dutch artist Harmen Steenwyck painted An Allegory of the Vanties of Human LIfe in about 1640 (now in the National Gallery). It is a very symbolic painting with the shell representing wealth, the musical instruments indicating the pleasures of the senses, books denoting human knowledge, the chronometer and lamp (which has just gone out) showing the frailty of human life, and all being dominated by the large skull in the foreground – a symbol of death. These paintings are called vanitas, after Ecclesiastes (Old Testament) ‘Vanity of vanities … all is vanity’ (‘Vanitas vanitatum … et omnia vantias’).

 

Mediæval stained glass at St Mary’s, Fairford

stained glass at St Mary'sImagine what it must have been like for the typical mediæval worker in the 16th century. Rich dyes for clothes would still have been reserved for the wealthy, so the lives of ordinary people would have consisted of a palette of browns, dull dark blue, rust red, and a bit of green, with a lot of grey when the colour washed out. Going into a church and seeing the wonderful colours in mediæval manuscripts when the books were paraded around the church must have been a sight for dull eyes. This was even more true for those churches that had stained glass. (Above from St Mary’s, Fairford: part of the 12 persecutors of the faith window – on the left: Herod Agrippa, then the murderer of a bishop, and finally a woman-killing man – note the heads being carried by the last two)

stained glass at St Mary'sThe rich, jewel-like colours would have sung out as well-known Biblical stories, saints, and the life of Christ were depicted in wonderful detail. The church of St Mary’s, Fairford, in Gloucestershire, has the most complete set of mediæval stained glass in the country. The Gothic architecture allowed for large windows and here the whole of the Christian story is depicted. (Right: St Bartholomew with his book and a rather large knife; this is a tanner’s knife as the saint was martyred and he was flayed. He certainly doesn’t look very happy, which is not really very surprising!)
St Mary's FairfordFlemish craftspeople based at Southwark worked on the 28 windows at St Mary’s Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire, to produce a stunning array of colour and figures such as the window showing the Judgement Hall of St David on the right. It is thought that Bernard Flower designed them. Flemish craft workers settled in Southwark as it was outside the jurisdiction of the restrictions of the Livery Companies in the City.

St Mary's glassWhat is particularly exciting about the windows if you do visit, is that a new audio-guide has been produced with a cast of the best-known British actors including Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Anna Massey and others, who have all given their time freely. More details here.

 

 

gohistoric_20526_m

An amazing find in the back of a workshop in 2003 resulted in the Victoria and Albert Museum acquiring a few panels from St Mary’s. Restoration work of the windows in the 19th century meant that some of the panels were replaced and the originals ended up at G King and Son of Norwich. This company were well-known restorers until they closed. Read more about the history of the panels and their conservation at the V&A here.

It is certainly a church worth making a detour to visit!

Wall Memorials in Bath Abbey

Memorial in Bath AbbeyWe live in a different era now, and for many of us, name and life dates, and perhaps that we were a mother, father, daughter, son etc would be all we would want on our memorial. Not so in the eighteenth century when ostentation was evident not only in dress, manners and fashion. Bath Abbey has a terrific set of wall plaques that show how pious, good natured and strong in adversity its’ citizens were at the time! Charles Symmonds shown on the right, was gentle in manner, high minded and disinterested (!). Charles was fond of retirement and literary pursuits, richly endowed with talents and learning but careless of worldly advancement. And if this wasn’t enough he was charitable, warm-hearted, sincere and fearless in the disclosure of his opinions (hmm, could this be a chink in his overall virtue, I wonder?). A real paragon of virtue surely.

IMG_1635However, he is not alone. Hannah Alleyne was ‘amiable for the many virtues she possessed’. She was patient, resigning herself to the divine will during a tedious and painful illness which she bore with great fortitude, and died aged 35 sincerely lamented as she was beloved.

 

 

 

 

Memorial in Bath AbbeyRichard Ford died at the age of 67, but he too was a most worthy man being a vigilant magistrate, and affectionate husband and a tender father, a daily frequenter of public worship and a generous promoter of every good work.

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial in Bath AbbeyRebecca Bowen’s sister put up her memorial after she died at the age of 73 years. Rebecca had a lively faith while her ‘charities’ were liberal and unostentatious. Despite having a long and painful illness her friendships were warm and constant and her patience exemplary throughout her difficulties.

 

 

 

 

Memorial in Bath AbbeyThe memorial for William Meyler, who was a bookseller, a tradesman and the editor of a public newspaper, a magistrate and a member of the common council of Bath, notes that he was deservedly esteemed for his integrity of conduct and consistency of principle. His memory will also, it is written, be long cherished in the hearts of those who knew him best.

 

 

 

Memorial in Bath AbbeyThe words at the end of Anne Finch’s memorial are very telling –  ‘the first real occasion of greif (sic) she gave her sorrowful mother was her death’. In life she was ‘an excellent person, well-natur’d, discreet, and vertuous most affectionately beloved by her relations and most justly esteemed by all that knew her.’ She also had an illness, during ‘the flower of her age’.

 

 

 

Memorial in Bath AbbeyAnd lastly, ‘If polished manners, inflexible integrity, and the warmest benevolence of heart, form a character which claims the tear of surviving friendship, reflect, O Reader on the distress of conjugal affection, and pity the fond endeavour which in seeking to alleviate perpetuates its sorrows by inscribing this marble to the memory of Robert Sutton’.

London Tube Typeface

Balham StationThe London Underground has a very distinctive and unifying look with the names of the stations, directions, and the distinctive roundel. This is due to one man, and he was the calligrapher Edward Johnston. Johnston could be said to have been the father of modern calligraphy working in the first half of the last century. In 1913 the Underground’s publicity manager, Frank Pick, commissioned Johnston to design a company typeface; his brief was for ‘bold simplicity’ and the design was finished in 1916.

Johnston UndergroundJohnston designed just one weight of type, and this was based on the very calligraphic proportions of 7 pen nib widths of Roman Capitals, with the proportions being the same and letters i and j having diamond dots. However, there is no weighting (thicks and thins) to the strokes in that they are monoline, and it was a san serif design. Johnston was very particular about his designs and apparently when one of his students offered to create a bold weight, Johnston blanked him for many years.

Tube logoThe London Underground roundel appeared in 1908 as a red disc and a blue bar. Edward Johnston took the roundel and developed it into the design that is used on stations today with the name horizontally across the centre.

 

 

 

Logo 1025From 1919 Johnston’s bull’s eye roundel was used on publicity, the outsides of stations and platform nameboards. He went back to the design and gave exact guidelines for the proportions.

 

 

London TransportJohnston was asked again to design the London Passenger Transport Board under the name of London Transport in 1933. This sign was used on all vehicles, signs and publicity.

It isn’t too surprising how a strong design such as this has lasted through the decades.

 

 

Llandaff Cathedral – lettering heaven!

Llandaff CathedralLlandaff Cathedral is situated on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain, and was founded where the River Taff was crossed by the Roman road. The present cathedral building dates from 1107 when the first Bishop appointed by the Normans, Urban, replaced the earlier church.

 

Norman arch

There is evidence of this church in two arches, one to the St David Chapel, shown on the right, and also the arch behind the high altar. The characteristic zig-zag pattern of Norman architecture is shown clearly here, as well as the beautiful semi-circular Romanesque archway. Note the figure of the head at the centre of the arch. This archway may have been the original west doorway.

 

 

 

Jasper TowerThe North West tower, called the Jasper Bell Tower was established by Jasper Tudor in the fifteenth century, and is named after him. Those who followed The White Queen series on tv last year may remember that Jasper Tudor was the husband of the Lancastrian Red Queen, Margaret Beaufort, and they were both the parents of Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII (father of Henry VIII), the founder of the Tudor dynasty.

 

 

 

Christ in Majesty, LlandaffA period of decline of pilgrims and supporters of the church resulted in the structure decaying, and a bomb destroying the roof in the Second World War did not help! A revitalisation of the church since then has taken place, including the wonderful Epstein Christ in Majesty, supported on huge concrete arches – quite a stunning sight!

 

 

 

Llandaff CathedralBut it is the wealth of wonderful lettering that caught my eye when I visited. This is the lively cut lettering in the Welsh Regiment Chapel, and records their campaigns. This is an interesting style of Roman Capitals, which are not always consistent in height (note the letter T in the top line). As well as this, the convention is that the numerals, when capital letters are used, should echo the x-height, but here the number 1 is higher than other numbers on occasion, and the other numerals are ranged (vary in height) rather than being consistent. The overlapping of letters, as shown here is an attractive and eye catching feature of these panels, as is also the painted red colour.

 

Llandaff CathedralThe overlapping letters, however, do not always work, in my opinion, where legibility seems to give way to style, as in this panel. The space at the base for an additional line may have eased the somewhat awkward combinations of letters on the bottom line. The letters were cut by ‘Mr Kaye of York’, but I have not been able to find any more information about him.

 

 

 

 

Llandaff CathedralThis stunning cast metal lettering is really eye catching, standing out from the wall as it does. The round rivet fixings of the horizontal metal struts make a satisfactory ‘dot’ to emphasise word separation. The slight overlapping of letters here and there does not hinder legibility. The problem with having a block of text centred like this is that the eye is often caught by the shape of the lettering, rather than what the words say. This is not the case with this lettering, and the whole effect is very pleasing indeed. This lettering is by Frank Roper.

 

Dean Williams plaqueThis simple, yet most effective slate plaque to Dean John F Williams was cut by Alec Peever. It looks very classic, and the various elements of the plaque are positioned perfectly. Remember, in Italics at the top, leads in to the name, with the surname emphasised in capitals with the letters spaced so that this line is the widest of all. And at the base, Lord, on a separate line, gives greater emphasis to this word, and creates a visual as well as an actual pause.

 

 

 

Llandaff CathedralA high standard of lettering continues with the plaques to denote the seats of various officers of the church. These are beautifully executed in painted brush letters with wonderful flourishes. Sadly we know only that these were provided by the architect in 1994, and although I have tried to find out whether ‘R H M’ indicates the lettering artist, I have not been able to do so.

 

Llandaff CathedralThis strikingly designed combination of four panels of the Bishops and Deans of Llandaff Cathedral is made all the more eye-catching by the supporting wooden struts. So often panels like this are simply attached to a wall individually. This combination makes it almost an artwork of its own. The lettering is by calligrapher John Smith.

 

IMG_0878

The work is on vellum in blue, red and black lettering.

 

 

 

 

 

I am most grateful to John Bethell, Honorary Cathedral Archivist, for supplying information about the lettering at Llandaff.

There are often so many examples of lettering in churches and cathedrals with rarely any indication of the craftsperson who executed it. Perhaps this could be the start of a campaign to record those whose work adds so much to the beauty of our places of worship.