Favourite Hobbies – Corbels – An Unexpected Discovery

I’ve written before about my commitment to “lifelong learning” and my pursuit of new topics now that I’m retired. Art History, Mosaics and Poetry were all conscious choices and continue to bring me challenge and satisfaction, hopefully also stimulating my “little grey cells.”

Another area of study was started by an unexpected discovery, while we were on holiday in the Monmouth/Hereford counties. We stayed at a lovely little caravan site 8 miles north of Monmouth and as always took a look at the Rough Guide to see what was of interest in the local area, before having a tour in the car of several villages within a 20 mile radius.

Kilpeck was one village highlighted and sure enough as well as being in a fabulous location and furnished with a splendid pub and some grassy walks where the dogs could run around with impunity, we found the church, dating back to Norman times, which was in the most amazing state of repair. Like many churches of this era, it contains a number of features of interest and to see the detail you’ll need to click on this link to the church’s own website.

The thing we loved most was the range of corbels around the eaves of the roof, perfectly preserved and including some brilliant carvings and images, for example:

kilpeck church 3

As well as the corbels there are fantastic carvings around the doors, depicting dragons and “green men,” some more reminiscent of pagan than of Christian times and the whole is set in a beautiful graveyard, and next to the ruined Kilpeck castle. From both the church and castle, there are spectacular views across the countryside.

kilpeck church

kilpeck church 2

Reading up on the church led to us finding other examples here on the Welsh borders —and on other trips around the UK— of church buildings with their own features and “secrets.” Whether or not one shares the beliefs behind them, they are often moving in their humanity and in the atmosphere they create of an earlier age. The work that went into these buildings represents the power and money of the ruling elite, as well as the pride of the masons and in almost every case, you can see evidence too of the humour and love of satire that we have inherited.

I love this figure from Winchcombe church in the Cotswolds – I wonder if he was based on a local dignitary?

art historyAbout the Author: 

Pam Norman worked in Training and Development for most of her career and nowadays pursues a range of interests, such as mosaic, art history, travel at home and abroad, as well as having an ever increasing number of grandchildren and a couple of rather gorgeous Border Collies. She has always enjoyed words and wordplay and likes to write short stories, poetry and articles. She is part of the East Devon Writers Group, a writing group which produced a range of work to raise funds for Devon Air Ambulance.

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