George Mason University Plaster Cast Collection
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Cast no.40

Dublin Core


Cast no.40


Tympanum with detached fragment 
St. Nicholas parish church
Barfreston, eastern Kent, England.
Norman, later 12th century CE.
Barfreston. 33 x 50 in.
Metropolitan Catalogue: Cast no. 1544.

St. Nicholas parish church in Barfreston, Kent, was a stopping-place for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. The artists of Kent were well aware of what their counterparts were doing to decorate churches in western France. However, the scenes of Medieval life, the creatures, and the religious symbols above this doorway are unique to Kent. This ornately decorated parish church has perhaps the finest assortment of Norman carvings in England. The archway from which this plaster cast was taken is located above the south door of the church. In the center of the tympanum, Christ sits within a mandorla, his right hand raised in a sign of peaceful blessing, his left holding a scroll, probably representing the Bible. To either side of him, along the ground-line, are mermaids, a griffin, and a sphinx, all entwined in foliage. Above them are various torsos and crowned heads surrounded by vines, and, at the top there are angels with scrolls. Above the mandorla is a leafy molding, then one with a bishop's head at the center and medallions to either side showing various creatures, some of them playing musical instruments. At the top, the widest band shows signs of the zodiac and the labors of the months.

~ John L. Gardner and Tina Delis

Bibliographic Citation


See; and David Ross, "Barfreston, St. Nicholas Church,"

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