Participants in my 2012 Waterways & Railways between Thames & Severn tour were bemused when I insisted on stopping in the Wiltshire village of Great Bedwyn to look at the post office.
Ostensibly it had nothing to do with waterways or railways but the building is a delight because it’s the historic base of the stonemasonry business of John Lloyd [http://www.johnlloydofbedwyn.com/our-experience], a family firm dating back seven generations to the arrival of Benjamin Lloyd in 1790 in connection with the cutting of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
The post office itself and the yard beside it are encrusted with monumental panels, miscellaneous carvings, offcuts, uncollected orders, rejected pieces of all kinds.
A Daily Telegraph article [Hamish Scott, ‘Say it with stone’, September 21st 1996 [http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/say-it-with-stone-1364250.html] about John Lloyd records his laconic advocacy of taking time and care to respect natural stone: “You have to listen to its ring. If the note changes, then you’re doing something wrong. The stone will tell you what you can get away with, so long as you respect it.”
John Lloyd no longer manufactures on the site. One of the most spectacular lots sold at an auction in 2009 was a memorial to a First World War airman – a stone Sopwith Camel with an eleven-foot wingspan.
Still remaining are a selection of eccentricities, including the ‘Repairs to a monument’, an account in stone of the mason’s work and his charges.