Signpost - Ellingham and Kirby Cane

Village signs


The morning of Saturday 24th March 2018 saw a sizeable group of people near the village school for the official opening of the new village sign.

The creator of the sign, Richard Lees, explained how the sign came about, what influenced the design and how it was made.

Richard Lees explains how the sign came to be
Richard Lees opening the village sign

The sign is made of solid oak, which requires no maintenance (in fact, if it is varnished the wood will rot).

How it came to be

The Queen’s grandfather Edward VII started the tradition of carved village signs on the Sandringham estate. He felt that a sign that just gave the name of the village was very boring as it said nothing about the village or about the people there.


Villages on the Sandringham estate started making carved wooden signs, and it was local people who made them and painted them. Norfolk now has more carved village signs than any other county in the UK.

Near the junction of Church Road and Yarmouth Road is a village sign for Kirby Cane. It was carved by a local person and recently repaired and repainted by Richard Lees and John Reeve. Richard Lees’ background is in wood boatbuilding and John Reeve’s father used to carve village signs in the local area and John has repaired and painted lots of local signs in recent years. 

Richard realised that Ellingham had no sign and wondered if the local school, Ellingham primary school, would like to get involved in deciding what parts of Ellingham’s history and its modern activities should be in a village sign. After a talk to 82 children they produced some 48 pictures of what should be included in their opinion in a village sign.

It included owls, otters, eels, Ellingham Mill, the church, the school, windmills and turbines, the railway, fishing, swans, owls, cranes and kingfishers, and boys fishing amongst many other historical and modern references including the war memorial.


The project was done as a private venture with the school and offered to the parish as the village sign. 
The idea was to include as much of the history and ideas that the children suggested. In addition no other Norfolk signs appear to have children in them. There are babies, but not children. So the sign has a boy and girl in it.

The figure of the boy fishing and of the girl with her mother is a stand-alone figures, whilst the rest of the sign is a relief carved into 3 oak planks four inches thick which are glued together edge to edge.

Kirby Cane

Carved by John Fisk of Worlingham, the village sign was unveiled by Margaret Gillies (Parish Council Chairperson) in 1993.

Kirby Cane village sign