Obliged to stand for several hours, the misericord
provided them with a little wooden ledge on which to lean, and yet to remain upright.
- sometimes named mercy seats - are the small wooden shelves found on the underside of a folding seat in a church.
Two-thirds of the stalls in which those priests sat (with carved, load-bearing misericords
beneath) still survive today, one set painted with the figures of prophets, one set with apostles.
2008) five-volume editions of misericords
has made available a large body of marginal iconography.
The exhibition by Linda Thompson, from North Yorkshire, includes a series of sculptures which range dramatically from 'Dark Dragon' - inspired by the wonderful craftsmanship and mythical creatures to be found carved underneath the medieval misericords
- to ideas of pilgrimage and prayer which can be seen in 'Prayer to My Father', 'Pilgrim' and 'Loaves and Fishes'.
We weren't quite feeling culture vulture enough to follow the Elgar Trail - the great English composer lived in the town - but the magnificent Priory Church is highly recommended, even down to the quirkily-carved medieval misericords
("mercy seats" to ease the hardship of long services).
The reader's confidence is further shaken by the use of tituli as a singular noun (21, 205); the information that monks lived in "individual cells [which] doubled as meditation spaces and sleeping quarters" (63; the vast majority lived in dormitories); that choir seats were "called misericords
because of their uncomfortable character" (72; exactly backwards); that a "distancing effect" is caused by "the placement of the high altar in the western apse" (79; read eastern); that Luther supposedly nailed the Theses "to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral" (112; rather, to that of the Castle Church: it is important that Wittenberg was not a see city); or that Bath Abbey became a Church of England cathedral after the Reformation (128; it lost out to Wells).
Depictions of wives beating their husbands such as those carved into the misericords
of a number of English churches indicate recognition of the problem and the comic relief often deployed to defuse its disruptive potential.
Robert Mills's chapter 'Monster and Margins: Representing Difference', for example, explains how those entertaining marginalia in illuminated manuscripts, as well as carvings upon misericords
and corbels, can genuinely be understood within the context of contemporary attitudes to such marginalised parts of society as ugly people, the poor, Mongols, Jews, blacks and (it says here) women.
Its church, St Mary the Virgin, is noted for its monument to the Fettiplace family, its medieval misericords
and as the burial place of the famous Mitford sisters - Nancy, the novelist; Diana, the wife of British fascist Sir Oswald Mosley; and Unity, friend and admirer of Adolf Hitler.
72) Frequently bawdy secular and folk imagery, often emblematically depicting folk proverbs and lore incorporating animals like geese and lions as well as pagan classical figures, were found carved into the misericords
Corpus of Medieval Misericords
Iberia: Portugal-Spain XIII-XVI (Corpus of medieval misericords
in Iberia: 13th-16th Century) (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2005) 276 pp.