Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wyck Rissington, Gloucestershire


Many church windows have a hood mould, a projecting, arch-shaped moulding around the head of the window, to throw off water. Medieval masons liked to carve decorative terminals to these mouldings, often in the form of heads. These carved terminals or headstops are easy to miss, but even on modest buildings they can be highly decorative, like this king on a 15th-century window at the little Cotswold church at Wyck Rissington. The details – the curly hair, the beard, the pointed metalwork of the crown – have been protected from the weather by an overhanging roof.

I don't think there is anything about this carving to identify it as a particular king, but if to modern eyes a member of the royal family seems an odd presence on a church wall, one should remember that kings and queens were all over medieval churches. They recall not only Biblical monarchs such as David and saintly rulers such as Edmund, but also all the others who, anointed during their coronations, held a position sanctioned by the church and had as much right to be portrayed as all the other figures (and monsters) who populate church carvings from the Middle Ages.

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