Thursday, September 28, 2017

Farmington, Gloucestershire

Well shod

When it comes to exploring churches, sometimes the fun starts before you even get to the building.

Pausing by the churchyard wall in the Cotswold village of Farmington, you see this: a gate made up of 90-odd horseshoes, artfully arranged. Horseshoe gates are not unusual. I suppose they’re a pragmatic example of recycling – with the added attraction, for the superstitious user, that horseshoes are supposed to bring good luck. But what struck me with this example was that the horsehoes had been arranged architecturally. What I mean is that the central motif, a quatrefoil made up of four horseshoes, is a  piece of architectural ornament, and one often used in medieval churches. I have noticed quatrefoils before, on church fonts, church walls, church windows. The quatrefoil, you might say, is a way of making a horseshoe gate into a fitting entrance to a churchyard.

Or you might just say that it’s a winning bit of fun.

1 comment:

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

By some coincidence, the place-name and the object seem to resonate together. Say "Farmington" with a Gloucestershire burr and then see a collection of horseshoes! I found two horseshoes still unrusted in a green lane somewhere in Somerset or Glos. - judging by the size, they must have been for the huge horses we used to see but now so rarely, if at all. That evokes all the pre-mechanical age in agriculture that perhaps wasn't that long ago in the big scheme of things. I remember shire horses working canal boats in the 1950s.