18th Century lettering in Holt

I came across this plaque yesterday in St Andrew’s church in Holt.

click to enlarge

I haven’t seen anything quite like this before, it is stunning. The inscription states at the top that “This table is erected in memory of William Briggs”. I am not sure exactly what this refers to but perhaps an altar table that is no longer there. At the top there is an iron fixing lug which has nothing attached to it. I’ll try and find out more……

I think this is a beautiful and impressive piece of design and carving.

4 Replies to “18th Century lettering in Holt”

  1. Teucer – can you explain the background to the use of the letter ‘f’ (without the cross bit) instead of the letter ‘s’ except, it seems, when it appears at the end of a word, in which case it is a proper ‘s’? It’s a mystery that I’ve always wanted to know the answer to, but never got around to asking anyone.
    Until now!


  2. Hi David – that’s a good question and I feel may lead to another blog post. The diffeent s’s are basically a throwback to early cursive (hand-written) script. This character ” ſ ” is another form of s (as you know) known as the long s or medial s. It seems to have faded out around 1800 due to the rise of typography and the intrinsic spacing complications of the long form, and the visual confusion with f. I’ll make a quick blog post now and include some brilliant links (non wikipedia ones!).


    1. Dear Pauline – thanks for the comment – and I think it may be as simple as you suggest. I looked it up on an online etymology site:
      table (n.) late 12c., “board, slab, plate,” from O.Fr. table “board, plank, writing table, picture” (11c.), and late O.E. tabele, from W.Gmc. *tabal (cf. O.H.G. zabel, Ger. Tafel), both from L. tabula “a board, plank, table,” originally “small flat slab or piece” usually for inscriptions or for games.
      I’m happy with that as an explanation.


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