Monday, 3 August 2015

Lancaster Priory

I've been scanning a random collection of colour slides recently. Dates all over the place, yesterday I scanned some from 1970 all the way up to 1990 - this because of the haphazard storage not because I scanned every photo I'd taken...

Anyway amongst them were a few from 1985 and a visit to Lancaster when I went into the priory church to take a few photos. I went to see the carvings above the choir stalls and whilst there I found a few others, not great in size, but testaments to the carvers' skills and softened and darkened by age.

It is thought that the present church was built on the site of an earlier 6th century Saxon church and that this predecessor itself had been built on the foundations of a Roman building, a wall of which still exists under the chancel.

All manner of creatures, human, animal and demonic are to be found in old churches. Some are intended to warn of the consequences of straying from the path and others designed to tell a little moral story and here and there you might even spot touches of humour.

I am a big fan of the King's England series of county guides, written by Arthur Mee in the 1930s and 40s and updated a couple of times since. There is one for every one of England's pre-1974 counties, with Rutland lumped in with Leicestershire and Yorkshire given a book for each of the three Ridings. I have a handful of these books, which include descriptions of the most noteworthy carvings and tombs in churches but, whatever I set off to see, it invariably flies out of my mind once I'm there and I would love an e-book that would be more easily carried about on visits!

Anyway in this case I was able to remember it was the tracery over the choir stalls that I had come to see!

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