“I love the signs, they embody the essence of the village. But how did they get here? Why are they here? Do they have another meaning?” – a citizen who gave his name only as Alex.

For Alex I did some research and found that:

How?

They are believed to have been originally erected during the reign of King Edward the VII in the early 20th century Norfolk.

Why? 

This happened because he wanted to aid the motorists and highlight areas of interest across his estate so he commissioned for them to built across the 13 villages across the royally owned Sandringham estate.

How did they spread?

In 1920 Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George the VI) gave a speech at the Royal Academy promoting the use of these signs and their benefits. Now this speech is widely thought to be reason for the spreading of village signs.

After this the Daily Mail even ran a nationwide design competition for the first signs outside of Norfolk. As a result the prize money exceeded £2000 with 10 winners each being awarded £200 (around £9500 in today’s money) and the designs were then displayed in Australia House, London in October 1920.

Now?

Since then this practice is common throughout the United Kingdom with the signs being displayed at either the centre or one of the entrances to the village.

They can be found across the UK being particularly common in the east Anglian counties especially Norfolk and Suffolk.

They typically show a few images about the area’s history as well as culture and therefore depict major buildings in the village, certain local village festivals or even select village stories from the villages past. For example, in the pictures above there is a white horse and a barrel with its hoops separated, this is representative of the 2 pubs in the area: The White Horse and The Hoops.

Finally, they also commemorate certain major events like the Queens Coronation in 1953 or the passing of the millennium.