Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today's Medieval Church: Kilpeck

The Church of St. Mary and Saint David is in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, near the boundary of England and Wales. Built around 1130 to 1140, it is famous for its wonderful array of well-preserved Romanesque sculpture.

The small church has three sections, but all seem to have built at pretty much the same time.

The south door, with its tree of life tympanum. (Also at the top of the post.)


Dragon's head in the nave.

The delightfully weird corbels are particularly famous. There are 91, and most are still in good shape.

The sheela na gig. These figures are more common in Ireland than Britain, leading to suggestions on Celtic influence on the church. Kilpeck was in the diocese of Landaff, in Wales, until right around the time this church was built, so this is not implausible. However, the question of what influenced the "Hereford school" of sculpture and how is bewilderingly contentious, with claims made for France and Scandinavia as well as Ireland. But what an amazing place.

For a complete set of images of all the carvings, see the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture. For a more artistic set of photos, see the work of the wonderful Julianna Lees.

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