Monday, November 27, 2023

The Cross Keys: Wards Upward or Wards Downward?

The Cross Keys pub gets a brief mention in the "Public House Signs" section of the book Heraldry and the Buildings of York, noting that the original, which had opened in the first quarter of the 19th century, was demolished and the present one constructed in 1904, which date is commemorated in the panel set into the brickwork over the main entrance.

What the book does not mention, but which certainly caught my attention, is that the sign over the door and the sign in the guise of a coat of arms in the brickwork higher up, differ as to the orientation of the crossed keys: the latter has them with their wards upwards (the most frequent orientation for keys), while the former has them with their wards downwards. Not entirely unlike the line from the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: “Of course, some people do go both ways.”

As a consequence, though, you can see both orientations on the building there.

First, a couple of photographs of the building from two different angles:

And now for the close-ups. First, the sign, of the keys with their wards patently downwards:

And now, the same logo placed on a shield higher up on the façade of the building, of the keys with their wards just as patently upwards:

Which of these two orientations is the correct one?

I personally do not know, but if it came up for a vote, mine would go to the (presumably older) depiction in the brickwork just below the 1904 date.

Just sayin'.

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