1956 Farthing Carving, or “Why it pays to carry a camera at all times”


via flickr.com

I had the opportunity to stroll around Maidstone, the county town of Kent, earlier today. My car was in the garage being attended to, so with an hour or so to spare, I wandered about.

I’ve lived in the Medway Towns for over 20 years, and spent a good deal of time in and around Maidstone. I’ve seen it change and evolve over those years, but parts of the town remain stubbornly unchanged.

Take, for example, the building that hosts this carved medallion representing a 1950s farthing coin. It’s a former bank, Barclays to be exact, dating from the late 1950s or early 1960s. As befitting a bank, it is adorned with various carvings representing commerce and trade, and at one end four large coins. Two are apparently coins dating from the reign of Charles I, while two presumably represent contemporary currency in circulation around the time of the building’s construction.

These bas relief sculptures, both the coins and the Barclays eagle motif, resist all attempts to hide the building’s former use, in spite of it having ceased to be a bank in the 1990s when the branch moved to a new building down the road. It’s now a cliché “trendy wine bar”, but it will always be a Barclays Bank to me.

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