Over the weekend I plowed through several thousand photos on my mission to gather together misericords featuring woodworkings. I found enough examples to split into two posts: today are the carvers and (perhaps) the carpenters will be posted by next weekend. The carvers and their tools are from France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and Great Britain.
There is a huge range of detail from one misericord to the next. From the simplicity of the mallet to a highly detailed scene of a carver at work on a statue. One carver might have been contracted, and paid by the day, to provide all the misericords in a church. In other instances a master carved was hired to plan all the carvings and oversee a crew of carvers.
The misericord below was categorized as ‘Forestry’ but it looks like a woodworker is riving a block of wood for a misericord.
In another French church two carvers are found working on a misericord.
In the entries for two churches I found the same misericord listed. The lighting and angle of the photos are different but the missing piece on the carver’s face, his clothes, number of fingers and tools are the same. This misericord mystery is just a case of to which church in East-central France does it actually belong.
Some of the oldest misericords in Great Britain are in Exeter Cathedral. The elegant arms in the misercord below are dated 1220-1270. If you would like to read a short section (54 pages) about the Exeter misericords including a bit about their construction, how they were moved within the cathedral and some destructive ‘work’ here is a link to “The Misericords of Exeter Cathedral” written by Kate M. Clarke in 1920. Note: the remainder of the book is about other non-misericord sites in Devon
If you have any confusion on the configuration of a seat in a choir stall and the location of the misericords the two figures below should help. In the photo the red arrow points to a seat that is down. At the front edge of the seat you can see a small ledge or bracket. The back row of choir stalls shows the seats up and the location of the misericords.
Another view of ‘Seats Up/Seats Down’ is from the delightful little book “Choir Stalls and Their Carvings – Examples of Misericords from English Cathedrals and Churches” written and illustrated by Emma Phipson in 1896. You can find it here.
The gallery has several more carvers or ‘kervers’ for you to enjoy.