Misericords of St Laurence – Part V

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 6 – 10

S6: Again flanked by two leaves, the swan was the badge of the Bohun family, although here it lacks the crown around its neck. Mary de Bohun married Henry Bolingbroke, later Henry IV who perhaps also used it.


S7: Some series of misericords represents the seasons and this one looks to be from January or February as it shows the finely depicted countryman at home by the fire and his stores nearby (the bacon hanging in the larder).


S8: This scene represents the medieval sport of wrestling, although it has been badly mutilated. On the right hangs a purse of money with a woolpack beneath; on the left is a saddled horse. Both would be prizes.


S9: This particular misericord is so badly mutilated that it is difficult to interpret. It appears to show the body of a fox surrounded by birds and possibly a scene from Reynard the Fox, which was popular during the Middle Ages.


S10: A beautifully carved Griffin is supported by griffin heads on either side. This creature is said to be the offspring of a lion and an eagle and said to watch over hidden treasures. It was adopted by Edward III as his badge, though in French moral tales the creature is symbolic of the Devil.


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.

17 thoughts on “Misericords of St Laurence – Part V”

  1. They are all fascinating, but I love the smug countryman, hands warming by his fire, while his supplies of pork hang ready in the larder.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. Yes that is a good one. I’m partial to the swan, but the Griffin is well carved. I have learned so much from reading about these. I once lived on a street named Bolingbroke but had no idea who it was named after.

    1. It took a while to photograph them, but I didn’t do much editing other than cropping and resizing. The new lens coped much better with the light than my old camera. The research has been fascinating. Glad you like them.

  2. I really liked the bacon hanging in the larder too. From the size of those little porkers, it was a good year 😉

    I am curious however about the faces which border the misericords. The very last photo finally shows one clearly. From the opening header, I thought they were angels until I saw this last photo. Now I’m not so sure.

    1. Ah, yes the figures on the sides of the stalls – yes, they are angels. The header on this post shows their wings more clearly. I haven’t really photographed them, but maybe I should go back and do so.

  3. The swan is my favourite too – just watched a heap of black ones on the lake near home. They are so divers in their imagery, and all so beautifully carved. A number of different craftsmen? And all carved about the same time?

    1. Different carvers I believe and from different periods from the 14C through to the 18C I think. Some do incorporate their mark on the seats.

    1. Random. Some are from the 14C and others are later so reflect different periods – early ones are more pagan, later ones more political.

    1. I had a vague idea that some carvings were deliberately mutilated in the past, especially pagan ones, but I could be making that up.

  4. I thought the one with the pork hanging up was a female figure because of the head covering. The griffin is my favourite, it’s beautifully done.

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