We spent October half term week on the borders of Withshire and Somerset, which is Wadworths Country. 6X, which is brewed in Devizes has been a favourite of mine for over 30 years.
The next time we visit the area I must make sure that I take a tour round the Wadworths Brewery for a second very good reason. Wadworths are the only Brewery left in England to retain a dedicated signwriting department. Other breweries’s pubs will still appreciate the value of a good sign but they will commission a freelance artist or an independent firm of signwriters to produce their requirements.
One thing I have noticed recently is that the Kent brewer Shepherd Neame (also excellent beer, Spitfire among them) has been signing their pubs with attractive signs, individual to each pub and appropriate to its name, but in a corporate design of black, white and red. When I noticed the first few I quite liked them; now I am starting to wonder whether they are a little too uniform.
The Telegraph had this article earlier in the year.
Wadworth’s were putting up all new signs at the Canal Tavern. I believe that some of the old ones are exhibited at the Brewery studio. The temptation to ask whether the redundant sign was for sale had to be resisted.
Sorry John - I didn't draft that clearly.
I meant that the signboard (which is much larger than any normal chess board - you don't realise how big they are until you stand by it as it is waiting to go up on its moorings, another reason why my mad plan of making an offer for the downcoming blue sign had to be squashed) had previously depicted the name?'The Chequers' as a chess board. You can still see the name upside down, under the squares.?In a more?frugal?decade the board was?often repainted when the old picture faded.
I was interested in your further comments on the symbolism of the chequers.
John M. J.
Not sure that the knight has been painted over a chessboard - isn't the chequerboard design supposed to be the symbolic representation of a jousting field from which the chessboard is derived, or is it the other way around?
Anyway, relying on a partial memory of a class on symbology that I took at Uni. almost forty years ago I have always thought that the chequerboard black and white pattern of squares originated in pre-historic times and symbolised - when woven into cloth and waved - the beginning, the end and the nothing of the aether through which it was waved. From what I remember of that distant class that is the trinity of life and death and obliteration which much, much later evolved into the Christian concept of the Trinity (the Master, the Child and the Maid).
I seem to remember that there is some evidence that the ancient Babylonians used the pattern to represent the eternal battle for life, rebirth and death and that from there the pattern just entered the conciousness of all the peoples who derive some aspects of their cultures from the very early middle eastern civilisations.
The pattern, usually of a limited (usually by prevailing cultural norms) number of alternating squares, has, from what I remember from those drowsy, Easter-term lectures, been used to represent ends and beginnings and loss to the uttermost from the earliest of times. I think that it was the symbolic representation of the field of battle and jousting and it is very interesting that the symbolism lives on in modern times for it is the chequered flag that is waved to symbolise and indicate the winner of modern motor race - he, or she, who wins and lives on to fight again.
For some of the stranger Christian sects the chequerboard symbolises the dual nature of Christ and for some Gnostic groups the good and the evil inherent in the Universe. It is, at one and the same time, a profoundly Christian symbol born from the earliest times and a profoundly heretical symbol also from the same source.
In reality there is, and always has been, a third element - that which lies beyond the pattern. For Christians that is the Master (God) for some others it is obliteration. Chess is not just chess and the symbology of chess, or the jousting field, is all. But sometimes a black and white chequerboard pattern is just a black and white pattern of squares and nothing more! Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!