Horse on a village sign at Ufford in Suffolk.

A horse depicted being shod on the village sign at Wyverstone in Suffolk.

Horse at the ‘Black Horse’ pub  at Thorndon in Suffolk.

A shire horse is depicted in wrought iron on the village sign at Old Newton in Suffolk.

Horse on a weather vane at Rushall in Norfolk.

Horses depicted on a name plaque on a farm building, now converted to a cottage at Dickleburgh in Norfolk.

The subject of this village sign at Horsford in Norfolk is obviously a visual pun (a rebus), the name being represented by a horse drinking at a ford.  


The sign was made by Harry Carter of Swaffham.  It was erected in 1978 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee year of the Horsford afternoon branch of the Women’s Institute.  It was unveiled by Lady Barrett-Lennard, a member of a family that have been Lords of the Manor since the time of the Norman Conquest.

Another example of a rampant horse is on the floor of the entrance to Debenham’s Department Store in Rampant Horse Street in Norwich.  A strong motif in mosaic work, it consists of dark tiles against a pale background.  For pictures and further examples of mosaics in Norwich go to http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk/mosaicsorguk/norwich/horse.s htiml





The symbol underneath the horse on the sign at Old Newton represents the Battle of Stone Bridge in 870 AD.

The sign was made by Mr. Lambert of Mendlesham Green and was presented by the local Women’s Institute in 1989.

The choice of subject for the sign stems from the fact that Munnings was born and brought up in Mendham, the son of the local miller.  He attended nearby Redenhall Grammar School, Framlingham College, and then Norwich School of Art.  He transformed a carpenter’s shop at Mendham into a studio, the first of several at different locations and began his career in art designing posters while painting the things he loved most - local East Anglian landscapes, rural characters and animals.  Above all, he was passionate about horses and is best-known for his horse-racing scenes.  He was particularly good at capturing movement.


In 1919 he purchased Castle House in Dedham, Suffolk, and in the following year married Violet McBride, a renowned horsewoman.  After his death, Violet established the house as an art museum and his work can be seen there today.


Munnings was a traditionalist and disliked contemporary art.  In his own words, pictures are ‘to fill a man’s soul with admiration and sheer joy, not to bewilder and daze him.’  His memorial tablet in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral is testament to the fact that his own paintings are inspirational.  It reads ‘O friend, how very lovely are the things, the English things, you helped us to perceive.’

The inspiration for the village sign at Mendham in Suffolk is an oil painting entitled Charlotte’s Pony by the renowned artist Sir Alfred Munnings who lived from 1878 to 1959.  The painting was dated 1905 and two years later was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London of which Mannings became President in 1944.

The village sign is an accurate depiction of the main subject of the painting, including the woman’s hairstyle and clothing, the stance of the horse, and the colours.  What is not depicted is the painting’s background, which shows a rural scene with a hedge and trees, and a cottage in distant fields.

For details of the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum in Dedham see the website http://siralfredmunnin gs.co.uk


A good book on the life and work of Sir Alfred Munnings is ‘A.J. Munnings’ by Stanley Booth, published by Muller, Blond and White in 1986.