Dating from the same period as misericords, bench ends in churches across the country are often intriguing insights into the medieval world. The fox is in Burlingham Church in Norfolk and, yes, he is in pursuit of geese.
In Greystoke, Cumbria there are paired lions with their tongues sticking out and their bottoms sticking up as though they’re sliding down the bench into an undignified slump. There are also these barefoot, bearded men wearing something that looks remarkably like kilts.
Further south in Ripon Cathedral one bench end sports a startling elephant with a castle on its back.
In Devon its even possible to find bench ends carved their full length to include the carvers initials.
I wonder what modern carvers would create if there was a sudden trend for bench ends – safety-pinned goths, a besuited woman in high heels clutching a mobile phone and perhaps a bateria or virus magnified to grotesque proportions.
The stone carvers at Paisley Abbey recently carved a gargoyle like the alien from the film of the same name.
That’s made my evening – and possibly necessitated a trip to Paisley. Thank you.