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The Rare, the Rude and the Unusual

Travellers who visited Brittany in the 19th and early 20th centuries were often struck by the marked and widespread Christian piety that was such a feature of daily life here. Writing as late as 1917, the author Lewis Spence noted: “Nowhere else, will one find such great masses of people so completely lost in religious fervour during the usual Church services and the grander and more impressive festivals so solemnly observed.”

I have touched on the development of the Christian faith and religious practices in Brittany before and do not propose delving into it again here. However, the inextricable blend of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs and practices that existed here for centuries saw a quite distinct, if not unorthodox, approach to worship emerge. Aside from the localised nature of the saints venerated, this distinctiveness can be noted in the siting of churches, their architecture and the iconography found therein.

Many of the region’s churches were built near, or even atop, ancient devotional sites such as megaliths or fresh-water springs and it is not unusual to encounter ancient steles that have long been re-sited inside churchyards or against churches. However, one of the most striking and original features of Brittany’s religious heritage is the Parish Close, an ecclesiastical architectural ensemble unique to Brittany. Dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, these Closes usually consist of a walled circular enclosure, a monumental gateway styled as a triumphal arch, an impressive discrete ossuary, an ornate calvary and often a separate Sacristy.

calvary Plougonven - Brittany churches
The calvary at Plougonven

While the monumental calvaries usually contain scenes from the life and Passion of Christ, the calvary at Guimiliau is said to portray a local teenager being dragged into the jaws of Hell. Local legend tells that this is Katell Gollet, a 16 year old girl whose beauty was matched only by her depravity; she spent all her days dancing and carousing much to the consternation of her guardian. Uncontrollable, she eventually agreed to marry but only to the man who could dance with her for twelve hours in a row. Many men tried but most fell dead from fatigue until, having invoked the powers of Hell for new musicians able to keep up with her, the Devil himself joined young Katell and danced with her in an infernal jig across the threshold of Hell.

calvary Guimiliau - Brittany churches
Katell Gollet on the calvary at Guimiliau

The churches that became the centrepiece of these Closes almost always display a deep, elaborately sculpted porch with tympanum containing statues of the Apostles crafted in painted stone or wood. Outside, the buildings boasted tall granite bell towers with lanterns and soaring spires, staircase towers and ornate pinnacles; sometimes many being grouped together at varying heights to deliver maximum visual impact. Recesses housed brightly painted statues of saints but nowadays most are missing and, of those that survive, only tantalising traces of their polychrome remain.

porch Kergrist-Moëlou Brittany churches
The porch at Kergrist-Moëlou

The interior of these churches were ornately decorated with highly crafted carved beams, Glory Beams, pulpits, baptismal fonts and altarpieces which were all richly painted and set under vaulted ceilings highlighted in dazzling shades of blue or green. Sadly, the devastation wrought by the Wars of Religion in the late 16th century and the Revolution and Counter-Revolution at the end of the 18th century saw the destruction and loss of much of Brittany’s priceless religious heritage. However, a great deal of what has survived to this day is truly remarkable.

Decorated beams Lampaul Guimiliau
Decorated beams in Lampaul Guimiliau

Although there were a hundred and ten Rood Screens noted in Brittany in the 17th century, less than a score are now extant and only a dozen in their complete state; wonderful displays of polychrome wood with painted panels, sculptured figures and ornamental carvings on multiple levels. Designed to separate the choir from the nave and thus keep the altar out of sight of the congregation, the screens were gradually removed from churches following the Council of Trent in 1563 as part of a move to demystify the rites of the Eucharist and allow the congregation to more easily follow the service. Although the number of survivors in Brittany is small, they represent the largest concentration in France.

Rood Screen - Brittany churches
The Rood Screen at Priziac

Other interesting survivors from earlier times are the Chime Wheels which were once quite common throughout France during the Middle Ages. Some fifteen bells were noted in Brittany in 1909 but only seven now remain, mostly located in the centre of the region. These small bells, each delivering a different note and ranging in number from six to 24, are attached at regular intervals to the rim of a wall-mounted wooden wheel varying in size between 0.6m and 1.75m and activated by a pull-cord or a crank. Officially, the bells were said to have been used as a sacring bell during mass or rung during periods when bells were prohibited or to celebrate special events such as baptisms and weddings.

However, the wheels seem to have been more popularly known as Rod ar Fortun in Breton: the Wheel of Fortune and it was this reputation that famously caused the rector of Berhet to destroy the church’s wheel in the mid-19th century. One pilgrim having noted that: “we paid two sous each time … depending on where the wheel stopped, the omen was favourable or not,” while the wheel at Quéven was said to indicate that fortune would be favourable if it ran continuously but the opposite was held true if it stopped suddenly. Such irreligious attention saw the wheel removed in 1944; much to the consternation of the local parishioners.

Chime Wheel Confort Meilars - Brittany churches
The Chime Wheel at Confort-Meilars

The wheels were also believed to possess therapeutic and healing properties. Children with speech impediments or hearing difficulties were often taken to spin the bells of the Confort-Meilars wheel above their heads, in order to be cured by its sound; a practice still popularly noted in the late-1920s.

Another unusual relic of past times are the Lanterns of the Dead, over half a dozen of which are noted in Brittany; ranging in date from the 12th to 17th centuries and from simple granite columns of about a metre high to more elaborate structures standing some seven metres tall. These edifices were used to house a lamp that was lit to herald the death of a parishioner thus perpetuating the ancient rite of light whose function was to guide the soul of the departed. Unsurprisingly, the lanterns were also traditionally lit on All Saints’ Day.

Lantern of the Dead - Brittany churches
The Lantern of the Dead at Guegon

Representations of the Danse Macabre or Dance of Death were first recorded in Paris in 1424 and slowly spread throughout Europe over the next two hundred years. Three examples were noted in the churches of Brittany, two of which are still extant today; sadly, the fresco that once adorned the wall of the church in Josselin is known to have succumbed to the ravages of time at the end of the 19th century. The fresco in the church of Kernascléden dates from the mid-15th century, while the one found in the chapel of Kermaria, near Plouha, is a little later, having been painted between 1485 and 1500.

Danse Macabre - Brittany churches
Dance of Death in Kermaria, Plouha

In the Kernascléden fresco, the Duke of Brittany precedes the King of France in the procession, which is not the case in Kermaria, painted at a time when French influence in Brittany had markedly increased and just over a generation before its controversial annexation by the French crown. Today, of the seven surviving Danse Macabre frescos in France, two are to be found in Brittany.

Ankou La Martyre - Brittany churches
Ankou in the font of the South porch at La Martyre

Some of the iconography found in the churches of Brittany is surprisingly inconsistent with approved Church dogma. Representations of the personification of death, the Ankou, are found adorning the inside and outside of several churches but he is not the character of death sometimes seen in churches elsewhere. The Ankou was believed to announce death and even forewarn people of it, often long before gathering their souls; an important figure that underlined the role of fear in a religion centred on death and the afterlife that was promoted here for so long. Another reminder of the inevitability of death is found in the church in Magoar which contains a tall long-cased clock whose, single-dial, face warns that: “The last hour is hidden.”

Death clock Magoar - Brittany churches

The cult of the Virgin as Mother of God grew significantly in Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries; being revered as the Queen of Heaven, personification of the Church and Bride of Christ. In Brittany, as elsewhere in France, many towns and villages placed themselves under the Virgin’s protection and churches dedicated to Notre-Dame or Our Lady abound, often bearing quite specific markers, such as Notre-Dame du Bon Voyage (of the good journey), Notre-Dame du Roncier (of the bramble) and Notre-Dame de la Fosse (of the pit). At times, such distinct local identities were noted to have caused a challenge to the local priest when some of his parishioners were convinced that their church alone held the image of the real Virgin; those found in neighbouring towns were regarded as imposters – at best, a sister or cousin of the Virgin.

Representations of the Virgin are commonly found in every Catholic church in Brittany but less common are those portraying the Virgin breast-feeding Christ. That said, there are many examples throughout Brittany particularly in the west of the region. Such statues, carved in wood and stone, seem to mainly date from the 16th and 17th centuries and share certain characteristics; around 1.65m in height, the Virgin’s hair held in place by a wide band, wearing an unfastened top-garment that displays only the right breast although the statue in Tréguron reveals both and is the only one that shows her seated and one of only two (the other is at Kerlaz) that portrays her ample lactation.

Breast-feeding Virgin of Tréguron - Brittany churches
The breast-feeding Virgin of Tréguron

The church in Lanrivain contains a rather charming carved wooden statue depicting a reclining Virgin breast-feeding. Images of reclining Virgins are quite rare in Western Europe but there are ten others, dating from between the 15th and 17th centuries, to discover across Brittany.

Unsurprisingly, the sites of these “Virgins of the Milk” were once popularly visited by expectant mothers or those women experiencing difficulties expressing milk. Although skirting the limits of Catholic dogma, it is clear that such images were not retired even after the promulgations of the Council of Trent in December 1563 which expressly forbade any “image which recalls an erroneous dogma and which can lead the simple astray.” Only images that avoided all impurity and did not generate any provocative attractions were then permitted within the church precepts but such proscriptions clearly had little effect on popular devotion. Many troublesome statues were modified or quietly buried, others were put into closed niches and some were draped with a modesty veil; a practice still noted in two locations here in the late 1960s.

Another fairly unusual feature of some of the 16th and 17th century statues of the Virgin carved in Brittany are the depictions of her trampling evil underfoot, such evil commonly being represented as a horned demon, part woman-part serpent or fish, baring her chest and holding an apple while prostrate upon the ground. Over fifty examples have been noted, predominantly in the western half of the region, and such demons are also found in a dozen of the surviving ‘Trees of Jesse’ carved here during the same period.

Virgin Mary and demons - Brittany churches
The Virgin suppressing the demon of Brennilis

To ensure his churches were operating consistent to the decrees of the Council of Trent, the Bishop of Quimper relayed a fairly strong message in his synod statutes, instructing his clergy: “Images which have something mutilated, profane and indecent; that represent stories contrary to the truth of Scripture, or ecclesiastical traditions, must be carefully removed, without scandal, and hidden underground in the cemetery.”

Rumengol church
The church at Rumengol

Less than 250 years later, in the wake of the Revolution and the rather puritanical inclinations of early 19th century France, many more statues and carvings of questionable morality were disfigured or destroyed. However, many figures rich in sexual symbolism and suggestion seem to have survived these culls and remain in plain view today.

Brasparts church Brittany
The church at Brasparts

Some of these images could, generously, be said designed to edify the faithful and encourage them to denounce lust and other sins; others less so.

Quimper cathedral
Detail from Quimper Cathedral
Tremalo Chapel Pont Aven Brittany
Tremalo Chapel in Pont Aven
masturbating in St John the Baptist church Le Croisty
St John the Baptist church in Le Croisty

This scene from Notre-Dame de Crénénan near Ploërdut of the lady with the distaff has been interpreted to suggest that the distaff symbolizes sex and fertility. Thus armed, the lady catches the tail of the fox – a once popular epithet applied to those predatory men who chased younger women – that has stolen her sausage.

Crenenan church Brittany

In the church in Landerneau, the lady seated on the ground holds her distaff in her right hand and the pig’s tail in her left, while a man braces himself behind her pulling the braids out of her hair. This is thought to represent lust and gluttony but is the piercing of the barrel also symbolic?

Landerneau church Brittany

This, on a beam in the church at Lanvénégen, is possibly a development of the once popular Medieval story of Renart the fox preaching to the chickens?

Renart and the chickens

I can offer no reasonable suggestion as to the reasoning behind this, from the church in Graces, but similar images have been noted in 16th century manuscripts.

Graces church Brittany

Other carved contortions seem to require no comment at all.

Chapel of the Trinity Plumergat
From the Chapel of the Trinity in Plumergat
Ceiling boss Bodilis church
Ceiling boss from the church in Bodilis
Ceiling boss Chatelaudren church
Ceiling boss from the church in Chatelaudren
Ceiling boss La Roche Maurice
Ceiling boss from the church in La Roche Maurice

What these images lack in artistic refinement, they surely make up for in imaginative power and cause one to wonder; if these were thought appropriate enough to survive the various moral culls of the last five hundred years, what might have been destroyed?


Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

178 thoughts on “The Rare, the Rude and the Unusual

  1. I agree with the last paragraph as well. ‘…Council of Trent in December 1563 which expressly forbade any “image which recalls an erroneous dogma and which can lead the simple astray.”’ Seems like there was quite a lot of dogma leading people astray which may account for these rather unusual pieces of artwork. 😀

    Liked by 9 people

  2. This was an interesting and eye opening look into art and architecture. They certainly had some bizarre interpretations of religious beliefs that is for sure. Indeed it makes one wonder what was “buried”.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Extremely interesting.

    This imagery in Britanny reminds me of some of the imagery in ancient churches in Cornwall, Wales and parts of Ireland.

    The Celts seemed to regard This World and The Next World as inextricably linked and the veils separating the two worlds weren’t all that thick.

    Thus depictions of the interaction between this realm and the next realm weren’t all that rare.

    Liked by 11 people

  4. I love all of these and I never really understood what a Rood Screen was. Every time I read your posts I want to get on the first plane to Brittany. Everything in this post is what I love to look at in Europe. Fantastic art work all the wonder of time and other lives. Thank you.

    Liked by 12 people

    1. Thank you so very much!! I am pleased that you enjoyed this one! 🙂 It still surprises me sometimes just how much that might have been lost of Brittany’s heritage has, against the odds, survived to be wondered at today! 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree, some of these survivors are extraordinary and yes, I believe that they certainly seemed to possess a more rounded worldview which accepted the duality of everyday life and that found within themselves and their neighbours. We could likely do with more of such thinking these days 😉

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, I really think it does! Statues are still being unearthed that were buried during the Revolution (to protect them) and earlier (because they were out of favour). Most of the churchyard graveyards were emptied and re-sited out of town in the late 19thC, so, I would be surprised if there was much more to discover but I would like to hope so! 😉

      Liked by 4 people

  5. 💜 Couldn’t Agree More EveryOne; yet it’s Our CHOICES!!! and DECISIONS!!! that “turn the speed” of “TIME!!!”…as, for example, BEING BORED slows “TIME!!!” down; then BEING BUSY with DEADLINES!!! “speeds” up “TIME!!!” because “TIME!!!” is Relative


    Liked by 8 people

  6. This is such a fascinating and unusual look at this subject matter! You handled it so well. From the extremely beautiful to the amusingly rude, your excellent writing and knack for finding great pictures makes for a delightful read! I eagerly await whatever comes next. 🌟

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Many thanks indeed Susan!! I am very pleased that you found it of interest! As you can imagine, I had to think about how to set this all out as I knew what I wanted to cover but didn’t want to push a heretical angle nor make it something for schoolboys to snigger over 😉

      Liked by 4 people

  7. I’m do fascinated how intensely the artists, architects painters and sculptors were so hard at work.

    This is such an in depth study and analysis of the 2R and U of the faith and its dogmas and one is left astounded by the freedom of expressions of the times leaving a whole architectural legacy for generations to come.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Agreed, the time spent creating these things would have been considerable! There must have been entire families of artisans who travelled from town to town working until the job was done, twenty years later!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. How beautifully you expand my thoughts, that is exactly what i was thinking. Even great composers like Mozart were commissioned to write for the elite, how more these travelling artisans. Yes and the time it took. This creative and industrial nature is still prevalent today.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you very much! I am glad that you enjoyed it! 🙂 Yes, you are right, I think they had far more of a “live and let live” spirit than we do and we do nothing but say how open-minded we are today 😦

      Liked by 7 people

  8. I found this post very interesting, like all the articles you publish. The description is wonderful and the images, fascinating, even if some are not appropriate in places such as churches; But I make your question mine: if these were thought appropriate enough to survive the various moral culls of the last five hundred years, what might have been destroyed? 😉😇

    Liked by 8 people

  9. This is very interesting indeed. I had not expected to find that churches had erotic sculptures! Never heard of it until now. I was shocked when I learned, for the first time, that such Hindu temples existed in India. There are about ten temples that have such sculpture, but the most visited ones are Khajuraho and the Konark Sun Temple. I haven’t visited any of these but have learned about it in history, and fine art. And of course there are pics in travel magazines and brochures. This post was a revelation and a lesson. Though, I still fail to understand why such sculptures need to grace the walls and ceilings of holy places like churches and temples!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thank you!! I am very glad that you found it of interest! I have visited Khajuraho and while I knew what to expect, I came away totally confused as to why the Delhi Sultanate destroyed so much iconography in other Hindu temples but so little there!?
      I agree, it is often surprising what one finds in holy places of worship and we can only guess as to the motivations of those builders and their first congregations 😉

      Liked by 5 people

      1. That’s an interesting observation! One that never came to my mind. I wonder if it could be that the Mughals didn’t have a concentrated presence in that region. Need to dig up some information about that.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Ha, I checked and the maps say that it was definitely within their sphere of influence and that kinda raises more questions than answers! Even in Qutub Minar in Delhi, all the Hindu carvings are defaced, so, how did these survive?? Hmm

        Liked by 2 people

  10. कलात्मक परिष्कृत मूर्ति और आदिवासी अनगढ़ कृति – दोनों का अपना अलग आकर्षण है. यहाँ भारत के अबूझमाड़ या झाबुआ के जंगलों में जो प्रस्तर खंड या लकड़ी का शिल्प दिखता है, वह अलग अनूठा होता है.
    अच्छा लगता है कि आप अपने देश के एक अंचल को इतना विस्तार से लिखते – प्रस्तुत करते हैं.
    कभी आप यहां भारत आए तो आपसे मिला जाए.
    जय हो. 😊🙏

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Dhanyabaad!!
      मैं बहुत आभारी हूं कि आपने मेरी पोस्टिंग पढ़ी! सच में! फिर से धन्यवाद।
      अगर मैं फिर से भारत आता हूं, तो मैं आपको बता दूंगा 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I love the earthy ghoulishness of the icons on the church and I am a tiny bit shocked about the lactating Virgin Mary! As always, a totally fascinating post about Brittany. Your photographs are excellent. We visited a mission church in Baja, Mexico where my ancestors are from. There is a tiled picture on the side of the church showing the polygamous indigenous people slaughtering the priests because they dared to tell them to have only one wife. I couldn’t tell if it was meant to imply sympathy for the priests or “We told you not to mess with our traditions…” 😊
    I could give Katell a run for her money. In 1979 I proudly won ‘best funky dancer’ at a nightclub. My prize was an out of season, and very large, cucumber. I wondered what my mum would think of the double entendre but she was just delighted to have some salad at Christmas time. Ah, those were the days!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thank you Kerry! I am glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 Your story about Baja hits the nail on the head! Without context, ideally contemporary, we have no idea what the tile implies or what some of these Breton carvings were meant to imply! 🙂
      Haha, you must have caused your mum many a grey hair 😉 I wonder where they got the out of season cucumber from in the 70s?
      Stay well!!! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh my mum was a bad role model who always wanted to know how many boys I kissed of an evening. 💋 The cucumber went right over her head! I wondered where it came from also but we ate it anyway.
        I got the distinct impression that your Breton carvers were giving the Catholic Church the finger. LOL!

        Liked by 2 people

  12. 💜 As a Boy I AM OCD (Occupational Compulsive DisOrder) about having sex; recently I Have Remembered that sex is in The Mind and The Energy EveryOne…basically; a tit is a tit, a vagina is a vagina and hair is hair


    Liked by 3 people

  13. My impression of these historic Christian artifacts reveals to me that moral issues were very much in question during these times. Was the church struggling to maintain public support under these circumstances?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I see where you are coming from with this! Alas, it would take a post in itself to set the religious scene of the period but the first page of this:
      will give you an idea. It’s not so much that the Church lost public support but more a case of what people popularly thought that Church was 😉
      There are many noted examples of folks believing that “their” Virgin was the only one and that she might visit other, lesser Virgins in neighbouring parishes. There is even a famous argument noted by one author between folks arguing whether there were seven Gods or three!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you very much!! I am glad that you found it of interest! Some of the beam carvings in the churches here are just exceptional and it is quite something to enter a little church in the middle of nowhere and be confronted with such raw beauty. OK, it’s not the Sistine Chapel but beautiful nonetheless. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. From my limited travel in Europe I have discovered awe and inspiration in the big and famous churches but true meaning and insight into the people who lived and worked there (people like myself) in the small churches.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. What a wonderful way of seeing things! Yes, the grand churches built at the behest of kings and popes tell us of status and wealth but the little churches built by subscription by people who barely had anything to spare, tell us much too! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Fascinating piece, as always! Lovely pictures and engaging content. I always bookmark your posts to digest the content and read at my own pace. It’s like I’m in Brittany virtually with a very knowledgeable tour guide. Thanks for taking us on these amazing tours!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Every time we visit Brittany we also visit at least one enclos paroissial – there are so many! I am strangely fascinated by the 7777 saints of Brittany and ike to look for depictions. The imagery as a whole feeds the imagination, but now I have something new to watch out for. Can’T wait to be back, hopefully next year.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed and some of the lesser-known ones are a joy to discover, I think 🙂 The legend of the 7777 is an interesting one, isn’t it? Saints are on my to-do list but choosing which ones is probably what’s keeping it on a list rather than in a draft pile haha 😉
      There are encouraging signs of things opening up – the Tour has been very near these last two days – and hopefully we will be rid of this damned virus by next year! Meanwhile, stay safe! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am very happy that you found it so!! Ha, yes, the sermon would have to be a good one to stop your eye wandering over the carvings 😉 Although, to be fair, most are edifying scenes or simple depictions from the Bible or local life. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yes, the part about the Rood Screens caused my imagination to switch to ‘director’s mode.’ I started thinking of ways to make this scene into a movie. The only other place I can think of with something similar to it is the cathedral in Moscow. A separate chamber containing an altar, with a limited view from the public. Love your photos, they’re so very educational.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. lol … what might have been destroyed … oh wow – I wonder! 😮

    Funny though because first of all – the human body is beautiful – not shameful

    And then also sex is also natural

    Those things were NEVER brought over here within the church 😮😮.. or at least that I know of?

    Our first settlers were puritans lol

    That would be a shocking thing to see in a church!! How crazy!

    Can’t even imagine what they could have destroyed!! 😮

    Have a great day 🙌✌️❤️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, I have to admit to being very surprised when I saw these! So unexpected. I suppose it is possible to miss them but once your eyes start tracing the beam carvings, so many unusual images emerge as well as scenes of everyday life such as harvesting or drinking or even a long funeral procession. The clothes are fascinating snapshots of the time too!
      Thanks you too!! I hear the temp is going crazy there!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s pretty cool lol … I love how intricate… look at the craftsmanship of that too! The time someone took to make that!! And depict that

        Is beautiful … but it is slightly humorous because then the church was like “oh wait that’s bad, no more” lol ✌️

        I am very glad some of history still remains – it’s quite fascinating 😊 ❤️ I love history ❤️

        Oh yes… we are an oven lol
        It’s really like that ✌️

        Not too bad today – only 100 lol 😑🤨

        We better not have lightening 😮 …oh and here comes the Fourth of July … and even though fireworks are banned – people still do illegals … Oregon or Washington sell the massive up in air fire works … they go get em and drive em back down to California and light them off

        The police will try to catch them but they can’t ✌️

        Oh boy – any fires will be severe 😳😳

        They coming – they come every year 😳 🔥 🔥 🔥

        I see you are mild lol … in the 70’s?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Of course! I had not thought of the potential fire risk from wayward fireworks! With it so dry there, it could be a disaster 😦 Let’s hope not!!!
        Yup, we have had lots of rain showers this week and that’s sent the temp back down.
        Stay cool 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yeah… fireworks with such hot dry conditions is not ideal lol 🙄

        But ya know – people don’t listen or learn. Hopefully is fine!! It’s really hot and dry though 😮

        Ahhh summer rain ❤️❤️❤️ and the air smells so amazing after ❤️❤️❤️

        Dreams lol … ahhh summer rain – I miss summer rain!!

        Hahaha stay cool lol … I do mostly – it’s way too hot 🥵

        Stay dry 😘✌️

        Liked by 2 people

  17. It does seem that any type of culture or religion that demonizes sexuality always seems to have a subtext of intense sexuality that makes itself known in art, literature or even music. Some of those ceiling bosses are quite explicit and hilarious, aren’t they? 🙂 Having been raised Catholic, though I don’t practice anymore, I remember being shocked as an adult when I finally read the Bible. I hadn’t read a book more filled with sex, incest, or violence ever in my life! And here I was remembering my days of catechism, when the only stories we’d be told were Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt or some such equally innocuous tale. Or as my uncle used to say “everyone in the Bible is so well acquainted!” I also loved the tale of the young woman who would only marry the man who could keep up with her dancing and ended up wedded to Satan himself. There is a similar story that I grew up hearing as a young girl. Young ladies who enjoy the physical delights of dancing (or sex) always seem to end up taken by the Devil, don’t they. Patriarchy at its best! Wonderful post, as always! Thank you.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Yes, you are right! There is often a wide gulf between what we are taught in Sunday School and what exists elsewhere in those same texts 😉
      Yes, some of those bosses are highly stylised and these are not the only ones like that here!
      You are, of course, right again, the stories of immoral folks dancing with the Devil almost always seem to feature a female protagonist 😦

      Liked by 3 people

  18. I wonder whose bright ideas were it to make these things and then have the audacity to put them on public display? And looking at it was supposed to help a person’s morality? I can almost hear the chorus line of “Those Were The Days.” 🤔

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s hard to say how much latitude the creator may or may have not had. It was not like people was given a choice back then if the bigwigs decided something was to be done.

        The benefactors of the church or buildings, the local officials, and clergymen are who authorized the lewd artwork and justified public porn as serving a purpose other than what it actually served?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, it’s interesting to think out! Some of the carvings – both stone and wood – were done by recognised workshops whose trace experts have identified in several churches. However, it seems that, in most cases, they were done by local artisans with varying degrees of skill in the craft.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes, it is very interesting once you think it out. I think most were perhaps a relief, carved in an offsite workshop and later attached to the building. Maybe people had a different opinion of these things than people of today. Yes, you can tell some were done by experts. Maybe back then that kind of thing didn’t effect a person’s ability to get further work as it would today.

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  19. Some of the images remind me of the “Sheelagh-na-Gig” images in Ireland and in the UK. I’ve thought for a while that these kind of images were mason markers, leaving their “tags” along the completed works. Although the bawdy humour of the Mummer’s Plays might echo the sense of humour of the times found in art too. The sad truth is, we’ll never know and are left to wonder…. That poor dove for example! 😆😆

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I know what you mean. Strangely, I am not aware of any Sheela Na Gigs here. I know there are a few in Normandy but I think most in France are located in Aquataine.
      The strangest church carving I have seen here is a woman being suckled by a serpent and a toad!

      Liked by 3 people

  20. Fascinating indeed! I’m particularly captivated by the beautiful carvings and painted beams of the church as well as the symbolic art that brings to mind the work of the surrealists of the 1920’s. Excellent text Colin.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The images are not what one would traditionally expect to find, are they? You raise an interesting point; is it our interpretation of Christianity that has changed or the sensibilities of the priests? Or simply society at large? Hmm

      Liked by 2 people

  21. When you say young Katell dancing with the devil in an infernal jig, can it be understood as desire occupying the Katell mind? The information on the chime wheel was insightful and a shame to have limited it’s usage. I find the tall, long cased clock interesting considering it to be dogmatic. Fox preaching to the chickens sounds like a fantasy is it not? Honestly, your research again speaks volumes of it and thank you for sharing the information.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is likely one of those tales where you can take it metaphorically and literally 😉
      Like you, I am interested in those chime wheels – such a strange and irreligious ritual that survived in a fairly small areas for so long!
      The clock I also find interesting as you don’t usually see any in churches let alone anything as grim as this one 😉
      Renard and the chickens is definitely a satire haha 🙂
      Thank you for reading it all – I appreciate that!! Stay well! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  22. Great stuff!
    It’s tragic, to me, that ANY of it was lost. It would be so great if archaic things could survive the whims of humanity’s changing thought processes. Like the Library at Alexandria falling victim to the worst thought process of all: “We don’t like reading or learning, so this has to go!” Can you imagine the kind of information that was lost in there?!

    The line that stood out to me the most, though, to me, was: “Another reminder of the inevitability of death is found in the church in Magoar which contains a tall long-cased clock whose, single-dial, face warns that: “The last hour is hidden.”

    Such an accurate, mysterious, yet inevitable way to think of death.
    On that note: Have a wonderful week, lol 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  23. I think much has been destroyed. It’s not just in the past, but currently. Look at all Isis destroyed!
    The taliban destroyed a Buddha.
    Nothing is safe when idolatry is involved.
    Humans are not safe.

    Liked by 5 people

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