knobs, knockers and bosses

black iron ring-shaped metal door knocker

I could just as easily have called this post “door furniture and architectural details”, “wall anchors, pattress plates and more”, “green men and bears” or a dozen other titles, but I’ll admit it: I’m childish enough to have taken pleasure rounding up a selection of local photos that I can post together under the title “knobs, knockers and bosses”.

In fact, as I’ve been researching what this set of photos show, I’ve learned that there are precious few bosses among them. Perhaps we’d better get them out of the way immediately, with this over-sized lego brick that I came across by the race course months ago. I have no idea what it was for, but presumably whatever its purpose, they really didn’t want people to sit on it.

concrete block like giant lego brick

As well as being the only picture here to feature actual bosses, it’s also slightly out of place as both concrete and lego are a bit too modern to fit with the other pictures and thoughts.

I originally thought that the metal pieces added to walls for structural reinforcement, were called bosses, but I gather they are anchors plates or wall washers. This cross-shaped one was presumably added to strengthen the stone wall when that was repaired with brick.

x-shaped wall anchor

I gather that this next wall anchor being circular, it’s actually a “pattress plate”. I wonder if I could find enough around the town in these two different shapes to get a game of noughts and crosses going.

old metal circular wall anchor

Certainly there are plenty of modern circular ones featuring Simon Smith’s amazing dancing bear. Or, more accurately, the local, but politically incorrect, bear and ragged staff. Now you’re more likely to find the creature unchained and unmuzzled, apparently to emphasise the freedom of the county inhabitants to speak and act.

circular wall anchor with Warwick bear

If I wasn’t aware of the town’s associations with bears, I might be inclined to think this door knob depicted a confused cat. In fact, I think it’s a bemused bear. Either way, I think it’s rather lovely.

Circular door ornament with animal head in wreath

At first glance, this next knocker might be a big cat, but the more closely I look at it, the more human it begins to seem. I’m not at all sure that it isn’t a green man.

old door knocker

And I think there’s little doubt that that’s who this is.

Old metal door knob with green man face

As for this impish fellow, I am rather less sure of who or what he is. But every time I walk past him, I am reminded of a theatre trip with my family back in the 1960s. I do wish I had a better memory, but I think I must have been a very little girl and all I remember is a door knocker with the face of a person. Not only did the person speak, but when the knocker was raised and let fall, it produced a puff of smoke and the speaker appeared on the stage.

old door knocker with face

I have no idea what the character said, and nor am I sure of which play it feature in, although there seem to be two strong contenders. One would be The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray. I don’t know which character would have been the talking door knob, but I would have seen it as a very impressionable child and been entranced by the stage effects.

The other possibility is A Christmas Carol. After all, “Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. […] Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

Although that would be a prefect opening for the door knocker to turn into Marley, I don’t think it can have been, as I remember scaring myself silly reading the novel on a Saturday afternoon during my first term at grammar school. It was a set book, and I read it alone in my bedroom as the wind wuthered around and the daylight ebbed. If I’d seen the play, I think I’d have known that it was a ghost story and maybe I’d have been prepared.

It doesn’t really matter, of course, as the knobs and knockers have served their purpose and opened up doors to memory and musing. Which is all that’s needed to make a blog post.

old metal door knob and lock plate

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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