Pictured above from left to right, gargoyle with mouth pulled open enjoys the Winter sunshine at Castor, Cambridgeshire.Above middle, gargoyle with eyes upturned to heaven at Cotterstock, East Northants. Above right, an eagle at Alconbury near to Huntingdon. Below left and a gargoyle, high up on the tower, exposes his rear at Easton On The Hill, near to Stamford in Lincolnshire. Below middle, the infamous "Mooning Gargoyle" at Glinton. Legend states that this was aimed in a line directly at Peterborough Cathedral after a stonemason was underpaid for his work. Urban myth...? possibly. Below right, ancient and worn, this fella sits hugh up on the tower at Thurlby near to Bourne in South Lincs.
One of my own main interests in church photography are gargoyles and grotesques. I have been asked what the difference is between the two several times. Well, a gargoyle is there to drain water away from the church wall when it rains, therefore it will have a spout to take the water away. Many times the spout is now missing but you can still see where the spout would once have been. The term originates from the French gargouille, originally "throat" or "gullet" and similar words derived from the root gar, "to swallow", which represented the gurgling sound of water (e.g., Spanish garganta, "throat"; Spanish gárgola, "gargoyle").
A grotesque is a carving that serves no discernable purpose. It is just a carving! When used in conversation, grotesque commonly means strange, fantastic, ugly or bizarre, and thus is often used to describe weird shapes and distorted forms such as Halloween masks or gargoyles on churches. Really though, the grotesque forms on churches, when not used as drain-spouts, should not be called gargoyles, but rather referred to simply as grotesques, or chimeras.
The carvings shown here are often elaborate and some times rude, such as the "Mooning" gargoyles at Easton on the Hill and Glinton both pictured above and the gargoyle at Folkingham in Lincolnshire pictured immediately below on the left.
This page is a gallery of my favourite photographs of gargoyles, all of which have been taken by myself. You will see a variey of wierd and wonderful creatures, some comical and some evil looking. You will see tongues stuck out and mouths pulled open in typical medieval gestures.
You will also see the skill and the craftsmanship of the stonemasons from many years ago. Those stonemasons may be long gone, but their work is still here for us to enjoy.
Above left and a stonemason with a wicked sense of humour, just look at where the down spout would have gone! This from Folkingham in South Lincs. Above middle and fearsome tusks and tongue hanging out at Walpole St Peter in Norfolk. Above right and a penetrating stare from this gargoyle at Heckington in South Lincs. Below left and a repositioned gargoyles from Kelby in South Lincs. Below middle, gargoyle and pigeon, at Stanion near to Corby in Northants. Below right, and another from South Lincs. This gargoyle comes from Leasingham near Sleaford. Notice the re-modelling around the mouth area!
Above left, and a gargoyle at the top of the tower at Yaxley, near to Peterborough struggles with the cold on a freezing cold early February morning. Above middle and a creaming figure from Luddington In The Brook, East Northants. To the right of that, and from the same county, a superbly crafted piece of work from the impressive church at Kings Cliffe. Below left, and those starlings get everywhere! This gargoyle is fromBury near to Ramsey in Cambridgeshire. The other two are both from Rutland. Below centre is from beautiful Exton. This gargoyle certainly can't be described as beautiful though, open mouthed, gap toothed and eyes bulging, this gargoyle is clasping a book in its left hand. Most miserable looking gargoyle on this page goes to the one pictured below right, from Oakham.
I hope that you have enjoyed looking at these gargoyles. There are plenty more to be found elsewhere within the pages of this site.
......mind you, this one from Hemington in East Northants looks as miserable as the one at Oakham just mentioned! To the right of that, and from the same county, a silhouette of a gargoyle found at Laxton church near Corby. Above right and an unusual gargoyle from the church at Lyndon in Rutland. A beautiful church in a beautiful county. Below left and what can only be described as a startled owl from Ingoldsby in South Lincs. Below middle, and another from South Lincs. Look at the row of teethon this one found at Heydour. Below right, and finally in this gallery of gorgeous gargoyles, this one from St Peter at Oundle seems tiny in relation to the size of the down pipe below him!