Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hanwell, Oxfordshire

February carvery (5)

I’d thought that my previous post would be the last of this month’s short ‘carvery’ pieces, but then I remembered Hanwell. This is one of the churches in North Oxfordshire that have distinctive carvings from the fourteenth century. Like Adderbury, it has a range of figures, beasts, and other carved subjects, both indoors and out. Some of them are of the ‘linked arms’ type on capitals, the kind I’ve previously noticed at another North Oxfordshire church, Bloxham, and elsewhere.

The heads at Hanwell are if anything even better than those at Bloxham – individual, crisply carved, and full of character. This bearded face is one of my favourites. His hair, beard, nose, and mouth are well done, I think, although the eyes are rather small and mean. The overall effect though is good, and makes one smile. Nikolaus Pevsner says in his book The Leaves of Southwell (to which, I hope, I’ll soon return) that capitals mark a structural junction between two functions (column and arch) and ornament marks this important transition while also masking the joint. In this case, the figures also look as if they are doing some of the structural work, by bearing the weight of the arch on their arms and shoulders. They look none the worse for their effort. 

No comments: