Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Sutton Benger, Wiltshire

Not Romanesque, I'm guessing. But totally peculiar - and enormous, definitely sticking out more than a metre. It's a gargoyle - that means it was designed to eject water from the roof out and away from the building. It's rather damaged but you can see that the water would have come out through the mouth.

Pevsner's book on Wiltshire is about the only place I've seen this mentioned at all so far. Everyone else is obsessed with the green man sculpture inside the church. When we arrived someone was arranging flowers or somesuch and the door was open. But perhaps she thought B and I looked dodgy because when we went to go in the door was locked! I didn't mind too much, the green man couldn't have been better than this :)

Now, Pevsner calls this a 'pig'. But it really doesn't look very piggish to me. It looks more like a cow to me, with its big wide stomach. Admittedly, a cow on the phone. I doubt it's actually on the phone. But it hasn't got a trotter pressed to its head, that's for sure.  And is that cow tail there on the left? I'm not sure but it could be.

My other idea is that it's a bear, because it's only got little ears. Cows and pigs have got quite big ears really. And bears do sometimes walk upright and use their front legs in a rather arm-ish way? Also, if it were a pig or a cow (or a boar or a bull) there are certain anatomical details which aren't there, and I think they probably would be shown. (Try to ignore the undignified addition of the downpipe). If it were a cow you'd go to town with an udder, and female pigs have rows of teats. A bull or boar would have obvious additions quite far up the abdomen. But a bear - if you look at a bear standing up, it seemingly keeps everything tidied away in its fur. And that's why it could be one? Who knows though.

I don't know why its got its paw against its face (other than it may have made it easier to carve). The attitude rather reminded me of our cute little corbel friend at Moreton Valence. Maybe its other arm went up towards its mouth, which is why there's a funny shaped hole there from where it fell off.

But anyway, this is well worth seeing because it's so absurdly large.

Images © Bethan 2014

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