Friday, December 26, 2014

Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Snow on stone

Snow is threatened for the Cotswolds, and as we hunker down to continue the family Christmas festivities, I thought I’d share a rather seasonally chilly photograph from a couple of years ago. This is a grotesque from Winchcombe’s parish church, St Peter’s, which was built in the 1460s and has featured on this blog before. No one knows for sure who is portrayed in this carving, but there’s a local tradition that the subject is Ralph Boteler, lord of nearby Sudeley Castle, who provided funds to enable the church building to be completed.

Arguments are rife about this theory of the sculpture’s identity. Some ask whether medieval carvers would depict a local bigwig and benefactor in such a humorous way; others set more store by the old oral tradition. We just don’t know the answer, and it doesn’t matter. This carving, and its neighbours, are an asset to the church and a perennial source of smiling admiration from visitors and from people like me, who pass this building almost every day, snow or shine.

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There’s another of Winchcombe’s admirable series of grotesques here, captured on the same snowy day.

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