Now we are ten!

3 December 2018
Ben Pentreath

Hello from New Zealand.  I can’t say it is the warmest summer I’ve known here, but can you imagine how wonderful it is to be transported into long days and green landscapes and total relaxation… for a minute? We were here for a family wedding – Charlie’s cousin, which suffice to say was the most  brilliant New Zealand farmer wedding… a day and night which, with the tiniest (I mean, the tiniest) tweaks to people’s hair or clothes, could have happened at any time in the last forty years – 1978, 1988, 1998, 2008, 2018. Timeless and unchanging; the very definition of a classic. And then, really, reason number one for the journey – to greet our tiny, perfect new niece, Charlotte McCormick… six weeks old.  We’re here for the week spending time  with her Mum and Dad, doing nothing at all.  That is my idea of complete heaven.

Anyway, other than travelling to the other side of the world, what’s news? Well, only, the biggest story of our year I suppose. Last week, two days before I left, we took delivery of a project that Bridie and I have been working on for the whole year – more and more intensively as we got closer and closer to the print deadline…. WOOP WOOP!

The shop is ten years old this month.  In fact, we were ten years old on my birthday, but for a million reasons that was a night that Charlie and I quietly popped up to the pub up the road and were in bed by 9.30 (that is the real definition of heaven). So the giant shop party didn’t happen… let’s save that for another day.

But to celebrate the moment, Bridie and I felt that something needed to be done – ten years for a little shop shouldn’t go without a celebration. And that’s why back in the spring we decided to pull together a book, which we’d call the Pentreath & Hall Alphabet – a mad, magical mix of everything we love.

Our friend Ruth Guilding, of the Bible of British Taste, (the link takes you to Ruths’ photos of the Old Parsonage, incidentally, if you haven’t spied them already) wrote the foreword, in her inimitable dry, witty tone… thank you Ruth.  Who knew about bat-squeaks of desire until now?

Here’s our introduction, and a slightly old photo of Bridie and me, not too embarrassingly old, I hope?

We each wrote an essay telling our tales….

And then the Alphabet.  You know my love of typography…. announcing each letter.  Beautiful papers by Payhembury , or our own patterned papers, are on each opposing page. 

I’m not going to tell you what everything is (A is for Alphabets and Ashcombe….) 

I did enjoy taking some of the photos…. here’s my cookbook collection at home….

The kitchen at the Old Parsonage! yellow heaven.  Photo by me (with a bit of highly sophisticated help from my friend Peter). 

Piranesi and Poodles…

One of my favourite pages – Queen Anne Houses, and the Queen…

The book ends with Z is for Zoos.  The Penguin enclosure at London Zoo.

Finally, I couldn’t end without ONE photo from New Zealand, although I’ll be honest – genuinely, we’re just on the quietest trip and I haven’t been pulling my camera out every two seconds.

Here is the rose garden at Christchurch Botanical Gardens… 1950s heaven.

I’m happy to say, the Alphabet Book is selling very fast.  Slightly cautiously, we printed a limited edition of 1000 individually numbered, signed copies, but in all honesty I think we’re about to press the button on the second edition – which (and this is why you need to get yours now) will not be numbered and signed (do you have any idea how long it takes to sign and number one thousand books?!?!!).  You can buy yours here. Ten years passes so fast when you’re having fun…. it’s nice to celebrate with so many customers and friends. Thank you, thank you, for all the support, over such a very long time.

Nothing would happen without you, and that’s the honest truth!

14 comments on this post


So glad you put William Morris under ‘W’.


Just ordered your delicious new book! Will I be the first in Tasmania to have a copy??
Congratulations on a lovely publication, ten years of successful business and for being an INSPIRATION to us all!
Best from Tassie,


Hello Ben congratulations to you and Bridie on the publication of your lovely book.I must say it looks so interesting and a celebration of your wonderful shop.As soon as l can l am hoping to place an order.Hope you and Charlie have a great trip how nice to meet Charlies new baby niece and to spend time with the family.Thank you again for your delightful blog it really is a joy.The rose garden is beautiful l bet the scent is heavenly.


Here’s hoping you packed some of those magnificent books for NZ fans!


What a beautiful, joyous and inspiring book. Congratulations and best wishes, Nicola


Surprised and delighted to see in the A’s Beaton’s Ashcombe. I was gifted my copy ages ago which started my collection of his writings. Portrait of New York, The Face of the World, Near East (with, a pilot’s flight log sheet of the same period inside), all of the diaries & most of everything in period.
Noticing your recipe page collection, I wonder if you have James Beard’s “Delights and Prejudices” Gollancz, 1964, with drawings by Earl Thollander? A wonderful read, as the actual recipes of which there are many, seem secondary to his accompanying writings. Essentially, 1960’s America.

Pierre B.says:

Grand and great, the book is quite a celebration. Long live to Pentreath and Hall!


Happy to say my copy, #31, just arrived at my door this week and it will be treasured! Thank you, Ben and Bridie, for all your work, and for so generously sharing the world through your eyes.

Have to say, though, I’m hoping to see a few more pictures of New Zealand as a respite from a very grey and chilly season here in Canada.


Dear Ben, I really must say that everything you produce – the buildings you design, the photos you take, your interesting stories, your home, your books and your shop (with Bridie of course)etc.. is always so delightful.
Saluti dall’Italia.


The “tiny bat squeak of desire” is from Brideshead Revisited. Love the new book

Steve Zicksays:

I THINK that “bat squeak of desire” or a phrase very like it, comes from the Great Gatsby, but I’m too lazy and my library too disorganized to find it! Congratulations on the book-!

Isla Simpsonsays:

Wow wee, what a milestone and so beautifully marked with this book – too lovely for words. I will buy xxx


XX ! Ruth


Dear Ben,
thank you very much for show us all The Pentreath & Hall Alphabet, it is so beautiful ! Love also the poster “A Christmas Carol” which will be held on Thursday 6th December ! I have it now on my Desktop 🙂
Christmas is coming soon and it`s every year a special time for enjoying ! Wish you a very nice week in NZ, both enjoy the time with Charlies family !
All the best, Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

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