A Walk around the Old City

A Walk around the Old City (4)

Porch of Court House

Porch of Court House

As you turn back to Broad Street you'll notice two small figures on a wall to the left of the alley leading to the street.

Tailor's Court effigy

Tailors' Court effigy

Ever since I photographed them I had no idea what they were. I thought that they represented people in some sort of scale armour. The only mention of them I can find is in Andy Foyle's "Pevsner Architectural Guides: Bristol" (Yale University Press, 2004, ISBN 0300104421) which simply states that there are "two small mutilated c15 stone figures set in the wall". In February 2006, I had the good luck to receive an email from Andy giving some information on Bristol Castle. I took the opportunity to ask about these figures and here's the information he supplied...

They are late Medieval sculptures, probably 15th century, depicting angels. I think its seraphim - a six-winged angel mentioned in the Book of Isaiah. The "lumpy" bits behind the figure are the first set of wings, at shoulder level (standard angel physiognomy), and the second set at hip level. I assume there would have been another set at knee-level. The "scaly" body is actually feathering.

They would not have been carved for this situation, they probably came from one of the nearby churches. The most likely time they would have been placed here - as decoration with a historical interest - would have been the C18 or C19. So they might have come from St. Ewen, St. Werburgh, St. John or the last surviving bits of St. Lawrence, during demolitions or alterations. The other possibility is that they were at the chapel of St George in the Guildhall - demolished c. 1843. Of course, all this last bit is pure surmise.

Out of interest I looked up about Seraphim and found this about them...

seraphim - plural of seraph - supernatural being. The name seems to derive from the Hebrew word "to burn". According to the Book of Isaiah, seraphim have six wings. Scholars have suggested that seraphim were winged serpents. In Numbers, the word "seraph" denotes a "fiery" (i.e. poisonous) serpent. Like cherubim, seraphim are associated with the glory of God. (Answers)

Moving back up towards Corn Street, we can see Christchurch in all of its glory. The side view we have seen from Castle Green shows a rather plain facade.

Christchurch from Castle Green

Christchurch from the corner of Castle Green

Entrance to Christchurch in Broad Street

Front entrance to Christchurch

On crossing the road and standing at the front of the church we can see from the plaque on the wall that the full name of the church is Christchurch with St Ewens and St George. The original church, St Ewens, was built on this site in the early 12th Century. The decorations around the door are magnificent, as is the clock which has figures that strike the quarter hour.

Christchurch clock

Christchurch clock

This page created 15th March 2000, last modified 21st February 2006

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