The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Events Archive

Ralph Beyer’s Coventry Architectural Inscriptions




Ralph Beyer’s Coventry Inscriptions Presented by John Neilson  Thursday 22nd April 2021 at 6.30pm.

The work of the letter carver Ralph Beyer (1921-2008), will be discussed by John Neilson with particular emphasis on Beyer’s architectural lettering, and especially the largest commission of his career at Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral.

Ralph Beyer’s childhood in Weimar Germany exposed him to a range of influences, from ‘primitive’ art to Modernist architecture. As a teenage refugee from Nazism he spent a few formative months in the workshop of the sculptor and letterer Eric Gill in Buckinghamshire. Later, he came to know the writer and historian Nikolaus Pevsner, through whom he came to the attention of Basil Spence. Beyer knew and worked for several leading architects, and this talk will look at his work on buildings such as that at St Paul’s, Bow Common (Maguire & Murray), at New Harmony in Indiana, but above all the largest-scale of all his commissions, the lettering in Spence’s Coventry Cathedral, most of which Beyer undertook in 1961.

John Neilson is a lettercarver and lettering designer. His book The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer was published in January by Lund Humphries.

Ticket holders for this event will receive a code to get 20% off via the Lund Humphries website, valid until 31st May 2021.


We’ll send you a Zoom link by email after you book, which will enable you to “join” the event, and we’ll be using the Q&A function to take questions at the end. If you’ve not used Zoom before, clicking on the Zoom link will take you through the set-up process, hopefully simply and smoothly! You should receive an automated link within an hour of booking so please check your spam/junk emails if you haven't received this. Any further problems please contact


Members: £3, non-members £5

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Above:  Lettering by Ralph Beyer at Coventry Cathedral. Photograph J Neilson.

The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244.