(All images reproduced with the permission of Dominic Greyer, Lesser Spotted Britain)
Like tea, marmite and mushy peas, quirky place names are a British institution. Slack Bottom, Drinkers End, Crackpot and Twatt are just a few classic examples that delight visitors and make cities like Leeds and London sound positively humdrum. Inspired by these rural oddities, Dominic Greyer, a freelance Lighting Cameraman in the film and television industry, set out to track down the most eccentric of them all, in a project known as Lesser Spotted Britain.
Dominic’s journey began in 2002 when he co-wrote, directed and shot a spoof travelogue presented by an over-enthusiastic rambler (comedian Rob Deering), who visited unusually titled villages and spun a yarn about the origin of their names. The resulting Channel 4 TV series launched Dominic on a road trip around the UK, and more recently across the Pond to the United States.
The show’s success and subsequent bestselling book, “Far From Dull and Other Places”, comprised solely of signpost photographs, led to the founding of Lesser Spotted Images Ltd in 2008. The award-winning company reproduces Dominic’s quirky photographs on a range of greeting cards and other products, including postcard books, mugs, coasters and posters.
Each image combines Dominic’s artistic eye with a humourous twist on scenic photography, featuring signposts to sleepy villages such as Once Brewed, Crank, Cowroast and Chipshop. Educational as well as amusing, the cards include a location map and etymology of each name. They are also nicely grouped by category, as evidenced by Clench, Slack Bottom, Longsplatt and Foulness.
Some villages – namely Booze, Barclose and Drinkers End - pay homage to another much-loved bastion of Britishness: the local pub. Others, like those shown above, are an example of what led one district council to decree that, in future, “aesthetically unsuitable names” and “names capable of deliberate misinterpretation” should be avoided at all costs.
Dominic’s work makes for a hilarious visual romp around rural Britain, and offers inspiration when planning a weekend away. You could begin with Booze, Brawl and Bedlam on Saturday, followed by Bleary and Fryup on Sunday morning. You can even wrap gifts with paper displaying your favourite eccentric signposts as the festive season draws near!
To see Dominic’s latest work, visit his upcoming exhibition and pop-up shop in London. The exhibition, which runs from Tuesday, 30th November to Saturday, 4th December (late night Friday 3rd), will feature previously unseen signposts and take a retrospective look at his photography over the last 10 years. The Pop-Up Shop runs from Monday 6th to Friday, 10th December. For opening times call 07932 086581.
Exhibition: Craft Central, 33-35 St John’s Square, London, EC1M 4DS
Pop-up shop: 21 Clerkenwell Green, Corner of Clerkenwell Green/Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M
All images shown in this article, and many more, are available for purchase at Lesser Spotted Britain.