Misericords of St Laurence – Part IV

The Parish Church in Ludlow is famous for its 15th century misericords in the chancel stalls. These ignored carvings are found underneath choir stall seats and are mostly found in areas of the country whose wealth came from the medieval wool trade. The largest collection is housed at Salisbury Cathedral (106) compared to Hereford Cathedral (40) and the 28 intricately carved designs here in Ludlow.

Finally I have managed to get some decent photos of them all, so let me introduce you to them:

South Side 1 – 5

S1: One of the most famous of the Ludlow carvings and one that much speculation has been made about. The central figure is obviously a successful tradesman surrounded by his tools. The figure on the left is damaged but appears to be pointing to the right where we find symbols of the grave. The simple message being that no matter how wealthy and successful you are in life, death comes to us all.


S2: Simply a decorative arrangement of leaves with the distinctive rippling surface texture seen also on the poppy-heads of the north choir stalls.

S3:  Flanked again by leaves on either side this central character could be a porter or a peddlar putting on his boot and preparing for the road, perhaps with a bale of cloth on his back. Bales of white woollen cloth known as ‘Ludlow Whytes’ were well known in London and fetched good prices there.


S4: For once the carving of womanhood appears to have been done with affection. The suggestions are that it may show a woman and her daughters, or married and unmarried women.


S5: The owl is a medieval symbol representing ignorance not the wise old bird we think of today. In fact it was seen as a creature of the dark, shunning the light of the Gospel. It is being mobbed by two carved birds their necks twisted inwards.


Source of text: Historic Ludlow ” The Misericords and Choir Stalls” by Peter Klein (1986)

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

20 thoughts on “Misericords of St Laurence – Part IV”

    1. I suppose allowing photography inside a church encourages visitors who may otherwise not bother to enter. I know I always drop a few coins in the donation box!

  1. I’ve just started reading The Miniaturist and misericords are mentioned in the prologue. I’d never have known what they were but thanks to you I can visualise them beautifully!

  2. What always makes it for me when ever I visit old church’s is the extent of the beautiful detail given to carvings.. Wonderful.. Loved this post and can almost smell the wood 🙂

    1. Yes, he is beautifully carved. I love all the little details too, the buckles, belts, spades, such tiny things, but all exquisitely done.

    1. Ha! No, not at all. The stalls are raised (see header photo) so from the floor they are virtually at eye level. Thank goodness!

      1. Well I know you do your very best for us! I’m having problems with your blog today – no one else’s, it’s taking ages to open each post, I have to keep going away while it thinks about it!

        1. I know the flower one appears slow because it runs that blue line across before loading the header, but the travel one is usually OK. Photos are still optimised so even though the macro ones are larger, they are still small file sizes. WP was playing up a bit yesterday, kept losing the site altogether!

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