A little further back in time than we generally go (although the Noth Ings Bride Stones are currently our oldest entry by far), these stone panels adorn the walls of what was the Bull Wynd and Inn in 17th Century Darlington. The higher stone shows the crest of the Bulmer family (a bull of course). It may have been part of the signage for the inn.
The two reliefs are well-worn, but still in remarkable condition considering their age. They’re described in the spectacularly-named William Hylton Dyer Longstaffe’s 1854 book, The Histories and Antiquities of the Parish of Darlington (p. LXXXVIII):
“On the East side of the house at the N. W. corner of the Bull Wynd are two ancient stones let in. One is the Bulmer Crest, being a long brute of a bull with a tail exactly like a fire-shovel, the other (which is near the ground) has in rude Roman capitals the inscription ANTHONE BVLMER AND MARIE LASINBIE. These persons might be brother and sister, man and wife, or father and daughter…”
It seems to have been the second of these options, as according to Darlington Council (as written in their 2013 Heritage Trail leaflet): “Anthony Bulmer married Mary Lasenbie in 1665 and together they ran an inn close to this site”. We can therefore guess that the stones were inlaid sometime during this period.
Thank you (not for the first time) to Helen Crute for her photographs. She’s been endlessly generous and informative and you can also find her work on Art UK.