As I write this, yesterday I received a mysterious box from Oxford University and for a split second I wondered what it might be but then I realised it must certainly be a gift from my tourist friend Lorraine in Australia.
We’d been to Oxford as part of our epic North of England tour, Oxford being handily located for a stop-over night when one has just landed from Australia and without wanting to immediately start off on a 6-8 hour car journey.
One of the things that we saw in the Bodleian Library was a fantastic looking Grotesque. Lots of people get their Grotesque’s and Gargoyles confused or messed up. Really, all gargoyles are grotesques but with an additional practical function of getting rainwater away from roofs and buildings.
My favourite Grotesque is this one below (at Knebworth House- It was a dark and stormy night) but that would be a bit big for my house and would definitely get in the way of the big-screen television.
Sometimes grotesques were simply made for decoration and to exhibit the skill of the craftsmen and the wealth and majesty of the owner or building. Sometimes they might even be to ward off evil spirits.
As you can see from this gargoyle above which is one of many at Westminster Abbey, it is still grotesque but with a practical purpose of getting water away from the fabric of the building in a time and place when drainpipes were either impractical or unsightly.
And this little fellow above is my surprise gift, a rude Grotesque which is a smaller copy of one that sits high above the streets of Oxford. Isn’t he cute? I plan to put him up in my home. Grotesques come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes in Christian places of worship, disgruntled workmen who believed they were being shortchanged or treated badly by their employers would have a Grotesque point his bum to the people below. Such insults not quite visible from the floor level and so left undiscovered for centuries!