X for XV century Misericords

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Woman with Coif
S4 – representing womanhood, possibly a mother and daughters

We are quite lucky in Ludlow to have a very impressive Parish Church – St Laurence, which is so big that it can be seen from miles around and is known as ‘The Cathedral of the Marches’. Now none of this has to do with the letter X, but inside the church you can find twenty eight misericords dating from the XV century.

Seated Man with Scroll
S13 – this could be a pupil or schoolmaster at the school run by the Palmers’ Guild in Ludlow.

Now I don’t propose to show you all 28, but here are a few of my favourites.

Owl with eagles
S5 – the owl in medieval times was a dark symbol. Here it is being mobbed by two birds looking inwards, possibly eagles.

St Laurence’s Church has twenty eight misericords in the choir stalls which are of a quality usually associated with great cathedrals such as Worcester or Gloucester.

Monster with female face
N2 – a Harpy (young woman’s head with the body and wings of a bat) with her supporters (bats) creatures of darkness and symbols of evil.

Carved on the underside of the hinged choir seats each misericord is fashioned from a piece of timber some 26 inches (660 mm) long, 12 inches (300 mm) deep and 6 inches (150 mm) thick.

falcon and scales
N13 – Falcon and Fetterlocks, the personal badge of Richard Duke of York (1411 – 1460)

The misericords have a wide variety of themes and with Ludlow then being a royal stronghold there is a royal influence shown in a number of misericords. Wikipedia

Prince of Wales Feathers
N8 – since the mid-16th century the three ostrich feathers have been the personal badge of the Prince of Wales.
S6 – Swan flanked by leaves, the badge of the Bohun family though without the crown collar.

The header misericord is N4 – a mermaid holding a mirror in her right hand, a comb missing from her left. Two dolphins flank her.


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I live in the UK, but when I was younger I spent several years travelling the world followed by a period living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

36 thoughts on “X for XV century Misericords”

  1. They have endured the centuries very well Jude, marvellous artifacts indeed. And thanks to your sharp photos, we are all able to enjoy them in detail!
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. St Laurence is a fascinating church – so big for a small town, but obviously there was a lot of wealth around in the medieval period.

        1. And some of the history ? But that kinda research takes a lot of time; I’d be happy to think that one day you’ll do a post about it …

        2. If you click on the first link in the post you’ll find another post of mine about it and a walk in Ludlow. The second link is from Wikipedia which tells you more about the church.

  2. Thanks for the wander around these interesting carvings, a very fascinating X…. I was totally stumped for X until yesterday, shall post later today!

  3. A clever approach to the difficulty of ‘X’! And beautiful carvings, well-served by your photos. I know it can be hard to get that level of sharpness without the interference of gleam.

    (A late start to see what Warsaw offers today. I’m leaving the twins to their grandfather.)

      1. Well, you are doing a great job and I cheat all the time but I like to think of it as being inventive and thinking outside the box 😉

    1. Thanks Sylvia – unfortunately not all 28 came out very well, though I do have a few more which are OK. I will have to go back and try again – the light is not good in the choir stalls and at the moment they have scaffolding up at several of the windows so that makes it harder. Maybe I should try flash, but I’m never happy with using flash.

  4. You are so resourceful, Jude! 🙂
    They are really beautiful, aren’t they? There are some carvings under the choir seats in the chapel at Durham University but nothing so elaborate as these (and photos were forbidden so I sneaked a couple but it wasn’t easy!)

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