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Mermaids in the church choir

By Christopher Howse

To some, an interest in misericords sounds like the enthusiasm for madrigals of the insufferable Professor Welch in Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.

Misericords, the carved undersides of tip-up wooden seats in the choirs of English cathedrals and collegiate churches, are not easy to see and often obscure when they can be. Many are in dark nooks and are now roped off to prevent damage.

Those that can be seen are often described in such terms as those applied to the early 14th-century misericords at Chichester Cathedral: “Composite creature with hooded face, human torso, beast’s haunches, and four claws instead of a hoof. It tramples on an unidentified object, which looks like the hind leg of a beast; the creature has human hands and is beating a tabor.” What can it mean?

Read the original article at: The Telegraph

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