I recently completed a restoration project for the National Trust at Stourhead, working with Cliveden Conservation Workshops. The inscription in the grotto had become illegible as people had worn away the last line of the Alexander Pope poem as they approached the spring. The project involved re-cutting the letters and giving them a sensitive colour wash to aid legibility. I spent four days on my knees in the dark damp cave, carving into the white marble slab. The lettering is a quite unusual sans serif form with a big variation in weight; ‘V’ cut for the narrow forms and flat bottomed for the thicker forms. The letters were the inspiration behind the National trust’s first bespoke typeface in 2009. On day three the photographer Steven Haywood took some publicity shots for the Trust. This involved me donning chest height waders and kneeling in the icy waters so Steven could get a shot of the carving with the statue of Ariadne as the backdrop. This has been a challenging and unusual project!
the Inscription is of Alexander Pope’s translation of a pseudo-classical poem and reads:
Nymph of the Grot these sacred spring I keep
And to the murmur of these water sleep
Ah spare my slumbers, gently tread the caveAnd drink in silence or in silence
And drink in silence or in silence lave.