Medieval English Visual Arts Medieval English Visual Arts

Click on an image for a LARGE version--but beware, the enlargements are high-resolution images which may take several dozen seconds, or even some minutes, to load. For more images of things medieval, see also the Images page of my Middle English Romances website.

Allegorical Sculpture (Wells Cathedral)

The Pilgrim (signified by his staff and mantle) supports the Church whilst keeping infernal powers (signified by the dragon) at bay.

Floor Tiles (St. Edmund's Chapel, Gloucester Cathedral)

Medieval floor tiles such as these, or Victorian facsimilies, are common in English churches. The medieval variety can date from the 13th to the 16th centuries and, as here, often show signs of considerable wear and of having been re-laid outside their original context. Originally such tiles will have been laid in elaborate patterns; a good surviving example of such patterning can be seen at the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey. The patterns were impressed on the tiles with a mould when the base clay was still wet. The resulting impressions were then filled in with a white clay and then glazed and fired, producing the characteristic red-and-yellow colouring. A wide variety of shapes and patterns were used--some even containing text and thus presenting a limited form of textual mass-production which antedated the printing press. A good basic guide on the subject is Elizabeth Eames, English Medieval Tiles (London, British Museum Publications, 1985).

Last Judgement Window (St. Mary's Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire)

Found at the west end of the nave, this is the largest of 28 stained-glass windows installed in the church between 1500 and 1517. Click on the image for a HUGE enlargement. For an illustrated commentary on selected details of the window, click here. For a little more information see also the Cotswold Hyperguide.

"Tirri" (Priory Church of St. Mary, Deerhurst, Gloucestershire)

This is the earliest known memorial to a pet in England. It appears on the memorial brass of Sir John Cassy (d. 1400) and his wife, Alice. It is at Alice's feet that Tirri sits and it is toward her that he gazes expectantly. The bells around Tirri's neck are, unlike the name, conventional for brasses of this period and are said to have been common equipment for small dogs who could not easily be located by women wearing voluminous dresses; alternatively, the bells were intended to warn off other household pets such as cats and sparrows. Tirri's small size is also wholly conventional for memorial brasses, but the presence of his name suggests that the representation in this case possesses some degree of accuracy. If that is the case, his name may signify a simple derivation from terrier, literally a breed of small dog which pursues its quarry into its burrow, into the earth--Latin terra.

All photos Copyright S. H. A. Shepherd