Sunday 29 September 2019

Kilpeck church - Part II

I just had to use this pair as the top photo  - you can see why!  They look so cartoon character.  The Bestiary describes the dog as having 'more understanding than any other beast.  They also know their name and love their master'.  Dogs are like the preachers who by warnings and by righteous living turn aside the ambushes of the devil, lest he seize God's treasure". The hare 'represents men who fear God, and who put their trust not in themselves but in the Creator.'

Well, that was a wild and windy - and WET - night, for sure.  I know our river will be well up today, and I shall go and check how bad it is once it's light.  Yet it didn't stop the annual night-time rally, although fortunately their route wasn't past our front gate as it is sometimes.  I could hear them somewhere in the valley about 1.30 a.m. onwards.  Just as well their route wasn't along the valley bottom or they may have charged into the flood on that bottom lane.  Here's the river as you first see it coming down our hill:

Yesterday we had a bit of light relief when a cow wandered past our kitchen window.  Of course, she was not meant to be there and I have yet to discover where she got in (possibly along the stream as there is a "hanging" fence there.)  Anyway, we had to don boots, open the front gate and gently chivy her out and into next door's yard.  (Just discovered the calving heifers are back in our top field so this must have been one of them and in which case, I know where she came through and will have to ask Next Door to mend the fence.

Anyway, back to Kilpeck and the many and wonderful corbels.  All quotes are from Malcolm Thurlby's book:

"This corbel is a humanoid lion's head with a mane and curly cap of hair between the damaged ears on top of the head.  The wide mouth derives from the classical theatrical mask".

The familiar Agnus Dei - the Lamb of God.

A ram's head. There are three corbels denoting this around the church. The rams signify the Apostles or the princes of the Church.

A rather foxy-looking carving, next to a flower which has its equivalent at Aulnay-de-Sainatoigne, Western France.  The flowercorbel : 'As  for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. . .' (Psalm 103).

'A bland, earless frog-like head with a large swollen tongue or other object in its mouth.'  

Don't scroll down if you are easily offended, as a Sheela-na-Gig comes next . . .

Oh dear!  This carving represented "low morals" - I can't think why!!!  

Here is a pig with a damaged snout/mouth.  'The pig (porcus) is a filthy beast (spurcus); it sucks up filth, wallows in mud, and smears itself with slime . . .  Sows signify sinners, the unclean and heretics.  The sow thinks on carnal things . . .'

The fiddle player also represents low morals (!) whilst the pair of figures on the next corbal are  dancing (or perhaps wrestling?) - another nod to low morals.

A muzzled bear with two human heads poking out of its mouth.

'A grotesque head with flared lips', 'a simple plain beak head biting a human face.'  Intertwined serpents and another ram's head.

A horse's head, 'bird with back-turned head and crescent-shaped wing', and a stag running up the corbel.

Finally (thank heavens, can I hear you saying?) a dog or wolf being pounced on by a Beast of some description, which wasn't a corbel but up near one of the windows.

If you get the chance, do visit Kilpeck - it is really something else when it comes to church architecture.


  1. Visited Kilpeck a few years ago, before I discovered my ancestral connection to that part of Herefordshire. An absolutely essential stopping-off point if you're in the area.

    Funnily enough, I've literally just arrived home from our trip out to Herefordshire for the Malvern Autumn show. Spent much of the morning finding, then exploring the church at Foy, where my 7th & 8th great-grandfathers appeared in the records in the 1660's & 70's. Some incredible contemporaneous memorials in the church near the altar.

    Sadly, looks like one of my favourite buildings on our route - a little barn with a diamond pattern motif in the brickwork in Long Green on the road between Ledbury & Tewkesbury - is now in the grip of developers. I shall watch & wait to see how much of the spirit of the building survives "improvement"

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed your time at Malvern and exploring the wee churches of Herefordshire for your rellies.

      I hope that the "improvement" on the diamond motif barn isn't one to ruin it - like the Cat's Cottage development. Inside it now looks like a brand new modern estate house. How to ruin a listed building . . .

  2. What interesting carvings. I think the frog looks a bit like a fish.

    God bless.

    1. It does a bit, but there are some fishes elsewhere which are more fish-like than this.

  3. It is a fascinating church, and your descriptions are excellent. The so-called School of Herefordshire was certainly very modern for its time.

    1. My descriptions mostly leached from the book, I must confess. Fascinating church though.

  4. I was there... in the 1960's on a school outing from St Marys girls Catholic school near Hereford. I wished I had paid more attention to the history of this amazing church at the time. I was impressed by the age of it and the beauty of the door especially. When you are a teenager there is a lot gong on in your mind and more important things to concentrate on.

    1. I'm not too surprised - it is an amazing place to visit. My school took us to Stonehenge and Durrington Walls.

  5. So sorry for the late comment somehow I missed this post. Wonderful photos of the Kilpeck corbels - again it brought back memories. One day I will revisit the church as I think it is the best I have ever visited.