SK7472 : Green Man

taken 7 years ago, near to East Markham, Nottinghamshire, Great Britain

Green Man
Green Man
15th century Green Man boss in the porch roof LinkExternal link of St.John the Baptist's church at East Markham
Green Man

The ‘Green Man’ is a relatively common pub name but is most often seen carved in wood or stone in churches across Britain and much of continental Europe. Thought to be a Pagan symbol, it was used by the early Christian church as a symbol of the Resurrection and life after death. The earliest Green Men appear in first and second century Roman motifs and the image has endured to the present day.
He combines nature and man together symbolising the power of both, representing life, death, fertility and rebirth, with leafy vines growing from his mouth and sometimes his eyes, nose and ears. The juxtaposition of a pagan symbol in medieval churches is fascinating and can be seen on capitals, bosses, corbels, misericords, fonts, stalls, bench ends, tombs and in stained glass. The face is almost invariably male, benign rather than sinister and usually in a location above head height so you have to look heavenwards to see it.

Church of St John the Baptist, East Markham

The church consists of nave with north and south aisles, chancel, west tower and south porch. The style is almost uniformly Perpendicular in style, of the early 15th century, although both aisles were substantially rebuilt during the restoration of 1883-7. Not for nothing did Sir John Betjeman refer to it as 'The Cathedral of the Trent Valley".

The exterior is dominated by the large windows, a distinctive feature being the twin windows in the clerestory to each nave bay which creates a sense of a much larger church than it actually is. The tower is exceptionally well proportioned to the church. Exterior features to note are old gargoyles on various parts of the church and the statue in a niche on the south face of the tower. Traditionally thought to represent Sir John Markham (d.1409) who was responsible for the building of the church as it appears today, it is more likely to represent St John the Baptist, the dedicatee of the church. A missable feature is the delicate quatrefoil opening to the rood stairs in the angle of the south aisle and the chancel.

Inside can be seen the one significant feature remaining from the earlier church, the 14th century chancel arch. The aisle arcades are fine examples of early 15th century work; the columns are octagonal with recessed panels and embattled capitals, and there are a series of carved faces, human and animal, forming label stops between the arches. The tower arch is unusually lofty, reaching to the same height as the clerestory windows. Apart from the 5-light east window, all windows are 3-light with tracery.

The east bay of the south arcade is filled with an oak screen of 15th century origin, It was moved here from the chancel arch during the 19th century restoration, with the intention of replacing it with an ornate rood screen and organ loft, designed by Ninian Comper. However, the new incumbent appointed in 1896 had a disagreement with the patron, the Duke of Newcastle, and the churchwardens, with the result that Comper's screen was never built, the funds being transferred to create the screen at Egmanton. Other timber features of note are the Jacobean period pulpit, altar rails and font cover, together with 17th century poor box and parish chest. The font bowl is also Jacobean, but the pedestal, with its unusual incurved legs, is thought to be an older font turned upside-down.

Two sets of stained glass are worthy of particular note. The south aisle windows have medieval glass in the upper lights, mainly fragmentary, but with some recognisable heraldic devices, and in the east window two figures of female saints. The great east window has glass designed by Ninian Comper.

There are two significant medieval monuments. In the chancel is the alabaster box tomb of Sir John Markham (d.1409). He was first King's Sergeant, later Judge in Common Pleas, and was the builder of the present church. The sides of the tomb display roundels with plain shields, and the top is a large single slab of alabaster with an inscription running round the top face. The otherwise plain face is heavily covered in historic graffiti, dating back to at least 1647. The second is to Lady Milicent Meryng, whose second husband was Sir John Markham. She married Sir William Meryng after his death and died herself in 1419. The monument is a fine brass showing a full length portrait of Lady Meryng with a plain strip inscription surrounding the figure. It is thought to have originally been on top of a tomb, but is now in the floor of the east end of the south aisle.

For more information about the church see the Southwell & Nottingham Church History Project LinkExternal link The church is Listed Grade I.

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SK7472, 97 images   (more nearby search)
Photographer
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Date Taken
Sunday, 8 February, 2015   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 10 February, 2015
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Religious sites 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 7431 7265 [10m precision]
WGS84: 53:14.7407N 0:53.2716W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 7431 7265
View Direction
NORTH (about 0 degrees)
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Other Tags
Roof Timbers  Church  Porch  Grade I Listed  Green Man 

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