Nauti Knockers .....My Love of Nautical Door Furniture

Nauti Knockers .....My Love of Nautical Door Furniture

Verdigris fish door knocker on a grey painted door

As I have a business which is all about beachcombing, it will come as no surprise to find out I absolutely love everything about the seaside. I love nothing more than a stroll down the fore streets and back streets of fishing villages and coastal towns. What I have discovered during my meanderings is that seaside folk love to adorn their front doors with the most fabulous nautical knockers. Some are polished and pristine, and some are rusty and weather beaten by the salt air. But they are all marvellous.

I may be a little jealous too as living on a boat we don’t have a ‘front door’ as such on which to hang a giant crab or a mermaid knocker, and we also don’t tend to get that many unexpected callers. If we do it tends to be a tap on the hull and a call of .....”anybody aboard?”

When I scrolled through my camera roll to find some suitable images for this blog post, I discovered I may have a bit of a knocker addiction. I had quite a few in there, but I have pulled out some of my favourites to share here, and will tell a little tale of my visit to the towns they belong to.

Fowey, Cornwall

The knocker at the start of the blog was taken in the beautiful little Cornish town of Fowey, pronounced ‘Foy’ by the locals. Mike and I were sailing our first sailboat Mako Pirate from the River Fal to her new home in Torquay. One of her lines broke on the way into Fowey and the chandlers had closed so we had to stay a couple of nights while we made the repair. It was no hardship, it’s such a vibrant town with lots of great pubs to have a quiet pint, and bakeries to get a warm pasty.

Brass sailing ship door knocker with two fish making up the area you knock with...on a black painted door


This impressive polished brass sailing ship with oriental style fish, is befitting its location as Fowey is still a great seafaring town. It is the port from which Cornish china clay is still exported around the world.

Clifton, Bristol

I spotted this stylish knocker on a New Years Day walk around Clifton.

Brass hand holding a ball door knocker on a grey painted door

Clifton isn’t technically a seaside town, but the Clifton Suspension Bridge which was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel does span the River Avon which leads to Avonmouth which is a busy port and is technically seaside, though this area does tend to involve a lot of mud. This is rather a shame from a seaglass hunting perspective as Bristol is famous for its production of Blue Glass which has been manufactured in the city since the 1700s after a potter and a chemist developed the perfect mix of chemicals required to create a deep cobalt blue. The traditional ball and hand design on this knocker was also very popular around that time, and from some research, apparently very popular still today.

Ilfracombe, North Devon

Mike and I took a little road trip during the very weird Christmas 2020 until the new restrictions cut that short. We spent Christmas Day in Ilfracome which is home to the very magnificent Damien Hurst sculpture Verity. Verity is a huge naked pregnant lady holding a sword in one hand and scales in the other. She symbolises truth and justice.

 Photo of the Damien Hurst sculpture Verity, a pregnant lady holding a sword in the air with one hand and scales in the other., She is at the entrance to Ilfracombe harbour and the sky is a sunset behind her

Not technically a knocker but there are some tenuous links. Can’t resist including her in this post as she is so impressive, though genuine Ilfracombe knockers will follow.

Brass shell knocker on a white door

The shell is a simple design but such a symbol of the seaside. I love it. The other knocker I chose was this rather grand cast iron lobster.

Black cast iron lobster door knocker on a varnished door

Appledore, North Devon

We also visited Appledore on our Christmas road trip, and to my delight, the maze of narrow  winding cobbled streets were a hotbed of nauti knockers. Appledore was once a centre for shipbuilding, and all of the workers and local fishermen would have once lived in the closely packed, brightly painted cottages which spread away from the waters edge. Now of course they are sought after properties, second homes and holiday lets as is the case with many of the former working towns and villages along the coast.

Verdigris covered crab door knocker on a green painted and glass front door 

I love how this cute crabby has weathered over time and the door is painted in a lovely seafoam colour perfect for the coastal location.

Whale tail door knocker on a yellow painted front door

Such a simple design, but against the yellow of the wood this is one of my favourites. Of course no collection of Nauti knockers would be complete without the obligatory anchor.

Cast iron anchor door knocker with rope winding around it as part of the design on a blue painted front door

This classic anchor design with the rope wound around is one of my favourite Nautical symbols. It reminds me of the sailors tattoos which I really love. The meaning of the anchor tattoo to sailors is the ‘hope of returning home’. Sailors also used their tattoos as a living log book of their exploits, and many had a single anchor tattoo to signify they had crossed the Atlantic. I sense a blog post on this topic in the future! I often use anchors in my seaglass jewellery, because as symbols go you can’t really get much more Nauti than an anchor! You can find examples of my creations here.

Brass fish door knocker on a cream painted door with a wreath underneath the fish

 Another oriental fish similar to the first photo in the blog, but this one is beautifully polished. Look at those scales. The details are amazing. As it was Christmas when this picture was taken, many of the doors had wreaths, but I love how it seems as though this fish is taking a big leap into a lily pond.....or is my imagination running wild there? Can I squeeze just one more Appledore fish knocker in before we leave here?

Weather worn fish door knocker on a varnished wooden door

This fish is much less shiny and has seen some weather, but I love the way its tail appears to be in mid flick. 

Weymouth, Dorset

I am going to carry on with the fish theme in my final town of Weymouth. Mike and I ended up visiting Weymouth for a few weeks when we were sailing our future boat home Gwennel from Poole to Dartmouth for her refit. We were caught in a squall just off Weymouth Bay and beat through the weather to make it into the pretty safe harbour. Never before have harbour lights been so welcome! Bad weather and work commitments kept Gwennel in Weymouth for a few weeks and we enjoyed the towns delights. One of which was its Nauti knockers.

Bronze fish door knocker below a porthole on a wooden door 

I love everything about this door. The porthole is a great way to incorporate a peeping window into a front door to see if you want to answer the door or hide. Only joking. But this fish! The colour, the scales and that forked tail. I love it!

Polished brass fish with a forked tail on a black painted door

Interestingly, This polished brass fish gracing another Weymouth door also has the forked tail, and none of the other fish in the other towns did. I am sure there is a story here, but if anyone knows the answer please leave a comment. Full marks for the polish on this knocker.

Lobster door knocker with verdigris on a blue painted door

I love the claws on this handsome chap. So nippy I am sure anyone reaching out to knock on this door must have a flash thought about whether they should have worn gloves. The patina on the knocker is beautiful.

Shiny brass Porthole on a front door and an anchor door knocker underneath, on a yellow painted door

My final two knockers are both anchors. The anchor on this door is a simple design, but what sets this door apart is that shiny brass porthole. It must have come off a ship. So full of character. I love repurposing items, and using nauticalia in the home is such a great way to add character to your environment because of the history and stories behind them.

My final knocker is another anchor on a weatherbeaten door which I feel just sums up houses by the sea. Standing tall against the howling storms, and salt air. A refuge in the winter, and in summer a place to dust off your sandy feet, grab a lemonade and let the salt dry on your skin whilst hiding away from the scorching sun. 

Bronze anchor door knocker on a door with peeling varnish and a number 4

I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of some of the knockers of the Westcountry. I hope it inspires you, next time you visit a seaside town, to have a little wander around the back streets and enjoy some of the delightful knockers on display.

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