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Nice puss

This handsome feller is from the inside of the church of St Peter and St Paul, the Norman church next to Peasmarsh Place.

The village of Peasmarsh is a mile from the church. Legend blames the Black Death. Originally, homes were built all around the church, as usual. But when the Plague came, they burned the houses to the ground and rebuilt a mile off. The rector had three symbols carved into the church to keep death away: a stag to ward off rats from the drains, a unicorn to keep plague from the door, and a bird to keep plague from coming in the roof.

Or so they say.

This guy, however, is a leopard — one of two on either side of the arch leading to the altar. It was his job to protect from leprosy. There was a lot of it about.

Charming place.

I love exploring village churches. They are traditionally kept unlocked, and they’re chock full of Norman bits and weird pagan-y iconography.

Christianity came to Britain bass-ackwards — the early evangelists were told not to disparage pagan tradition, but to quietly absorb it. By, for example, building churches near sacred trees and groves.

The result is kind of Jesus meets Harry Potter. I honestly don’t know how else to describe it.

We recently watched a very interesting BBC program called Churches: How To Read Them on the history of British church imagery. Presented by a man with a seriously annoying lisp.

BBC loves doing that.


Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: October 29, 2010, 12:03 am

I always liked checking out the graffiti in the porta-potties on the various bases I was at in Iraq. It’s kinda the same as church iconography, ‘cept different.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 29, 2010, 12:10 am

There’s some fantastic loo graffiti preserved in Pompeii, so they say. “Here Claudius shitted well” and the like.

We don’t change, really.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: October 29, 2010, 2:21 am

Were leopards all that common in medieavel Britain? Can British leopards change thier shorts?

Comment from scubafreak
Time: October 29, 2010, 2:26 am

Stoatie, I believe that the medieval beans and frank on the wood plank you saw supports that premise.

Now, I AM curious to see some Babalonian Redneck humor, but I understand that it doesn’t really translate well…

Of course, Gilgamesh and the Temple Harlot is a timeless classic….

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 29, 2010, 11:06 am

No, Scott. But, for that matter, there weren’t any lions or unicorns — the emblems of the land.

A leopard, per medieval lore, was the offspring of a lion (leo) and a pard. A pard was a very fast spotty cat, like a cheetah, and very fierce.

Leopards appeared on the arms of bastard children.

Comment from surly ermine
Time: October 29, 2010, 2:13 pm

I’m fascinated by medieval Christian art mixed with pagan influences. We are still very responsive to symbols today. Only instead of carved spirals, crosses and strange creatures its corporate logos.
Speaking of which, any animation fans seen this yet? An Irish film i believe, about the Book of Kells. Looks interesting.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 29, 2010, 5:27 pm

It doesn’t look like that BBC program is currently available online, Surly, but if it ever is…you’d love it. Also, that guy — the one with the lisp — has apparently written books about church iconography.

There are some seriously weird images in some of these things.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: November 1, 2010, 1:22 pm

I recall that nun who did Art Appreciation shows on PBS a while back… Buck-toothed (which caused an odd speech impediment) and unintentionally hilarious (“what is this couple thinking as they look into each other’s eyes? Could it be….sex?”), she was…. Don’t recall her name, though.

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