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Animal images and wall quotes in Romney Marsh churches

2022 December 7

Art work outside the church in Fairfield

Post lockdown  art exhibitions at the  Romney Marshes were recently able to be visited . Irrespective of the art displayed, aspects of the formal interiors including fonts, walls and particular biblical quotes always create interest – at least to me.

St Thomas Becket, Fairfield

Aspects of the font in the church of St Augustine in Brookland, is fascinating. As Ann Roper has described, this was made by Norman or Flemish craftworkers of the C12.The signs of the zodiac, and months of the year, were explained.Clearly presented were animals such as a pig or horse or fish alongside humans.

Animal fonts in St Augustine , Brookland

It seemed to remind me of the figures of humans and animals I saw many years ago in the baptistery near the duomo in Parma in Italy’s Emilia Romagna . Those too were from the C12th – this time as small statues from the workshop of Antelami. Odd how different animal images bring back memories of decades ago…

Quote from Brookland church in 2015

Similarly the biblical quotes in St Thomas Becket, Fairfield, as described by David Cawley, still remain – and are included – in many Romney Marches churches.

Quote in St Thomas Becket, Fairfield

As a child I was formally instructed in Non-Conformist religion (as other historians also state they experienced and later critically reported.) I now find these phrases unusual.

Another old testament quote

(As a teenager, often late to school I wrote biblical quotes from the Cruden’s Concordance  on the class group’s door, which my grandfather had used for his street preaching against drink. Instead I briefly quoted “Woe to those who rise early”. Here I deleted the next phrase “ to tarry after strong drink” to instead emphasise lying in bed.  However , the protestant school teacher scribbled in opposition different biblical quotes asserting the need for attendance …. )

But in  recent months , despite online library work, I have yet to find the local explanations for these displays of specific quotes. I would welcome information on reading historical writing and sources about the reasons for their insertion .

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