The North Aisle

Wall of Glass
The north aisle, on the left as you face the altar, is a virtual wall of glass, its eight bays broken only by the narrow exterior buttressing. The fifth bay from the tower end encloses the north door, set in a square frame. Known as "the Devil's Door" in medieval times, the door was left open during the service of baptism in the belief that any evil spirits in the child would escape through it. The door itself was replaced in 1630; the date is carved into the wood on the outside in large curving numerals.

Typical of the Perpendicular style, the north aisle is richer in decoration than the south. Look above you. The label stops, where the arches of the arcade meet, feature angels playing medieval instruments. Higher still, the stone corbels supporting the roof beams form a carved menagerie: bears and dogs mingle with leering human faces and mythical beasts.



Look for this carved stone pelican high above the Communion Table in the north (left-hand) aisle. The pelican plucking at her breast to feed her young upon her own blood (known as "the Pelican in her piety") is a symbol of Christ's Passion.

Pagan Symbols
The north aisles 14th-century stone reredos, part of an earlier church, is divided into five compartments. Among the carved foliage are two small figures. There is also a Green Man, or Jack-in-the-Green - a human face with a mask of leaves springing from his mouth.



A curious reminder of pagan beliefs the Green Man occurs in many medieval churches. As part of the Midsummer rites in pre-Christian times a youth garlanded with leaves was sacrificed as a mate for the earth goddess. In death he symbolised fertility and rebirth.

 


In front of the stone reredos is the Communion Table, which dates from 1659, the last year of the Commonwealth. Above the table is a modern oil-painted triptych, its Christian symbolism in direct contrast to the older altar-piece. Behind is a stained-glass window by Christopher Webb. It replaces Victorian glass destroyed in 1940. Medieval tiles found during excavations under and in front of the high altar in 1952 have been re-laid close by.

 

Triptych open

Triptych closed

South aisle

Back to Tour start