Owner’s appeal for information about mysterious England’s Lane shop sign

The owner of Black Truffle deli uncovered The Sign of Purity vintage awning when renovating his shop

The owner of Black Truffle deli uncovered The Sign of Purity vintage awning when renovating his shop front. Picture: Ben O'Toole - Credit: Ben O'Toole

A Belsize Park retailer has appealed to local residents for help in tracing his shop’s heritage, after uncovering a mysterious awning enclosed beneath the shop front.

The owner of Black Truffle Deli, in England’s Lane, discovered the old-fashioned shop covering, embroidered with the words The Sign of Purity.

He is calling for local experts and previous tenants of 41 England’s Lane to get in touch if they have any clues as to the provenance of the battered canvass.

Ben O’Toole, 33, a former chef and City broker of Lambolle Road, Belsize Park, said: “Very few of our customers have been able to shed much light on what the shop was and we are keen to find out more.”

Black Truffle Deli opened as an independent delicatessen and coffee house in March, on the site previously occupied by a series of bookshops and florists, as well as a well-known film costumier’s workshop.

Fashion designer and former tenant Andrea Galer, 68, said: “The street was not at all smart when I opened in the 1980s but, with creative people in the area, it became trendy.”

Ms Galer, who made the legendary overcoat worn by Richard E. Grant in Withnail & I at her workshop in England’s Lane, said the awning is likely to be derived from a less upmarket shop.

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“It was all run down when I moved in,” she said. “There were squatters on the main street and nobody had spent any money on doing up houses, but people like Bob Hoskins all started in that area and gave it a newfound energy.”

Mr O’Toole believes 41 England’s Lane is an ideal location for his upmarket deli.

“The shop had always been my wife Amanda’s favourite retail space on England’s Lane, given its large front windows and high ceilings,” he revealed.

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