There has been a happy ending to the century-long story of a missing pub sign painted in 1899 by Arts and Crafts artist Walter Crane for the Fox and Pelican pub in the Hampshire village of Grayshott.
After an appeal in ATG last year for information as to its whereabouts from Richard Peskett of Grayshott Village Archive, a sign fitting its description turned up at Sworder's saleroom in Stansted Mountfichet, scheduled for sale last month. As reported in ATG No 1937, the sign had been consigned by a vendor who had been given it when the pub was renovated some 30 or 40 years ago and it plainly had potential to be the missing sign (although a replacement was also commissioned following the handing over of the original to the Grayshott Parish Council in 1913).
Members of the Grayshott Archive went to view the sign in Essex before the April 27 auction and, having satisfied themselves that it was Walter Crane's original, duly decided to bid for it. Happily they were successful, securing it against commission interest for £3500 (plus 20 per cent premium).
Originally the trail on the pub sign had run cold after it was recorded hanging in the village hall in 1914 awaiting restoration. The First World War intervened. It seems that after the hall was requisitioned for military purposes, the sign probably went back to the pub unrestored. The current overpainting to one side discussed in ATG No 1937 was probably carried out after this, possibly in the inter-War period, and the sign was eventually removed to an outbuilding where it remained until Sworder's vendor acquired it.
The sign came with an additional larger, copper Fox and Pelican sign dating from around 1913, which would originally have been fixed to the wall.
The additional ironwork made especially to hold the 2ft 7in (79cm) high pub sign - ironically removed only earlier this year during the latest renovations - still exists and current owners, Fullers Brewery, have indicated that it will shortly be made available so the two can be reunited. Current thinking is that the sign will be displayed at Grayshott Pottery, (whose community fund enabled the sign's acquisition), where it can be preserved and viewed by the public. It is also hoped that restoration to the overpainted side will take place.
By Anne Crane