Lost and found: pieces of King Arthur history

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It looks like the King may be on his feet for the duration of the expansion.

As many of you may have noticed, the old entryway to the Baker’s Store – which contained King Arthur’s throne, as well as the wooden head of his horse – is gone.

When the expansion started in June, the old entryway was ripped down and boarded up, and horse head and throne were taken away.

An inquiry to the company’s previous long-time owner, Frank Sands, on the history of the two pieces revealed a few fun facts about them, including where they came from and how they’ve helped to represent the King Arthur Flour brand through the years.

Llamrei, King Arthur’s faithful steed, was carved and built in Canajoharie, New York in 1928 by a company that made merry-go-round figures. Atop him sat a wooden carved figure of King Arthur holding a flag. This fanciful carving was mounted on a truck that also contained an automatic calliope that played music.

Walter Sands, the former company president, used to drive the truck around New York City with the music playing as a way to gain attention for America’s finest grade flour and the company that produced it.

Soon after the stock market crash in 1929, the truck returned to King Arthur Flour’s original home in Boston, Massachusetts where is continued its musical tour until the 1950s.

When the company moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Walter Sands decided they would erect the horse and knight on the top of the new building. The carving was unbolted from the truck, but as it was being moved to the building it fell and broke into many pieces. Only the horse’s head and a part of its body were salvageable.

Walter Sands gave the head to his daughter, Sylvia Paxton, who kept it in her house until the Baker’s Store was built in Norwich, Vermont in 2004, whereupon she gave it back to the company as the only remainder of that part of King Arthur’s history.

King Arthur’s throne was built around the same time as The Baker’s Store and was placed in the entryway with Llamrei’s wooden head as an exhibit. They are accompanied by a suit of armor, which was created for a 200th anniversary celebration King Arthur had in 1990. They have been a memorable part of everyone’s visit to the store, and a great photo opportunity for our many fans, both young and old.

 

There have been many questions daily from concerned patrons as to the throne’s whereabouts. I am happy to say that both objects are being stored safely in an office in our warehouse down the road.

When construction is finished in 2012 and the improved Baker’s Store, Bakery, and Baking Education Center are complete, Llamrei and the throne will have an even grander place to call home.

comments

  1. hobby baker

    Wow, thanks for that intriguing bit of history. I love learning those little pieces of nostalgia. And how fortunate that there was the opportunity to salvage the head in the first place!

    Reply
  2. aoifeofcheminnoir

    Wonderful story! As a member of the SCA-a medieval re-enactment group I love this sort of thing! By the way does Llamrei’s head have a pedestal? Surely it’s not left on the floor!
    Yes, I believe it usually rests on the floor as the picture reveals. It is a very valuable keepsake and perhaps a pedestal can be erected with the opening of our new facility. Have fun with your re-enactment group! Elisabeth

    Reply
  3. rdr

    I love things like this! The photo of King Arthur riding his steed around New York on the back of a truck is priceless. Too bad there’s nothing but the horse’s head left — a bit creepy in a Godfather kind of way, no? I’m surprised the employees don’t play pranks on each other, hiding the horse’s head in coworkers’ beds… ;-) Good luck with your expansion and renovations.
    While we are the occasional pranksters, I think you’re beating us out with tricks like that! Our Customer Support Assistant Manager, Matt, gets a new profile picture every week on our Team CS Wall (he’s currently Matt Damon, last week a shark, before that Obi-Wan Kenobi… we love Matt, we promise), but I don’t think anyone wants to wake up to a horse face, real or not! Thanks for the luck and commenting. :) ~Jessica

    Reply
  4. dgcbooth

    Now that’s funny. I was a member of a kind of competitor to SCA, Markland, also a medieval re-enactment group, tho of a slightly different time period. lol :) I however, love the story because I love KAF and it’s a fun history :) thx for sharing!

    Reply
  5. chinchillalover

    You took the stuff down,bummer.I love the legend of King Arthur,I read the entire book in a couple days.I read faster than all my friends and family.

    Reply
  6. ferriotvt

    Very excited for the new construction to be over! Rumor has it that KAF will be getting rid of the Vermont Public Radio space that you host. Is that true? That would be terrible. I love hearing commentaries from our neck of the woods, and the wonderful underwriting that KAF does for public radio.

    VPR has had to relocate during this phase of construction, as the noise and vibrations would have been too much for their delicate sound equipment. But never fear, they’ll be back once the hubbub is over! PJH

    Reply
  7. angela25

    I think you guys should start a fund to have a new King Arthur and his horse constructed that matches (or as closely as it can) the origional one… I bet there would be a ton of people who would be happy to contribute!

    Reply
  8. nelll

    Yeah, Angela25… I mean what are the local parades without King Arthur on his horse in an old truck… Maybe the nearest historical society can co-sponsor the fund-raising.

    Of course, you could always hold a… bake sale…

    Reply
  9. HopeH

    It would cost all of the real King Arthur’s fortune to duplicate the original piece in today’s market. And that’s if you could find the kind of craftsmen and women who would have those skills. I know that there are still such people in Europe, but there might be some in this country. I believe it would take years to raise enough money to do it, but wouldn’t it be grand?

    Thanks so much for the history lesson. I love to hear things like this about the company. It makes KAF seem like more of a community of people, rather than a place with the typical corporate mentality. While the quality of KAF goods and merchandise is higher than other companies’, another reason I feel good about shopping here is precisely that–the atmosphere of KAF which shines through all of your writing. What a fine, fine, place it would be to work.

    Reply
  10. zerolev

    I have a friend in Merrimack NH who is a master carver and I can send you a few photos of his work, he could carve you a new horse or whatever you wanted to be carved… He does fantastic wood carvings. Would he take this on I don’t know you would have to contact him ???
    “Dave”

    Reply

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