Independent magazines and a Tudor castle

by Steve Watson in July 2009
Share on Facebook, Twitter or Copy Link

This time last week I was in the process of getting married, and I’ve spent most of this week off in the countryside getting used to life as a husband. Apologies to everyone who’s emailed or sent magazines and hasn’t had a response yet – the laptop wasn’t invited on honeymoon but I’m getting through the backlog now.

As part of our matrimonial induction we spent a couple of nights in a hotel just outside Dover, which aside from eating nice food and getting massaged, gave me the opportunity to revisit Deal Castle. I remember running around its battlements years ago pretending to repel Spaniards and royalists, so the prospect of going back with my new wife was too good to resist.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that the castle is a lot smaller than I remember, but it did. And I’m sure visitors used to be able to get up into the keep, but the attendant assured me that has never been the case. One thing that provided a pleasant surprise, though, was the richness of the details. It was fascinating to see that the entrance to the castle was offset from the main drawbridge and outer gate, so that anyone battering down the gate would have to reset their attack and start again from inside a cramped courtyard. Likewise it was interesting to be shown that the tops of the bastions slope gently downwards, so that when the cannons fired, their recoil would take them slightly uphill before rolling back into position.

The first time I was there I was busy with my imaginary battles, but walking around this time I was reminded of my favourite magazines, which draw readers in with their covers or their unusual format, but which ultimately hold the interest with their details. Whether it’s GOOD with its ingenious infographics, Little White Lies with its constantly changing design themes or Kasino A4 with the bizarre story that’s told across the bottom of the current issue’s pages, it’s the details that keep me coming back. They’ll never be the main attraction but they’re packed full of personality and interest and information.

When Henry VIII’s architects were designing his castles in the pattern of Tudor roses they probably never thought that one day people would troop around marvelling at the flint that masons packed into mortar to make the walls stronger, but I found it completely fascinating. That’s something English Heritage has cottoned onto, and so have the best magazine makers.

Any thoughts on other design details that make magazines stand out?

Close Icon

Join our magazine club! Subscribe to Stack and every month we'll pick a different independent title and deliver it to your door. You never know what you'll get next...

Subscribe now