Sunday, 15 April 2012

the oldest spoonbill in Somerset


 ...is in the north aisle of the nave, in Wells Cathedral. Here it is, grabbing a frog. Since the last time I saw it, in 1991, spoonbills have returned to the Somerset Levels. Hopefully I'll get to see them myself soon, though actively seeking out birds goes against the spirit of accidental birdwatching.

There's quite a bit of wildlife in the Cathedral. Here are some hares, on the tomb of Bishop John Harewell- in those days, they couldn't see a pun without making a carving out of it.


Here is a fox making off with the goose, to the dismay of the farmer.


Bishops tend to have little doggies attending their effigies, as opposed to the more puissant beasts on the tombs of knights. This pertickler bishop has a cat; no ordinary tabby, though; it looked more like a lioness, or a panther.


We conjectured that the bishop in question had been translated to the See from a more far-flung parish in Africa, and had brought his beloved pet north with him to Wells, where she would gaze down from the walls of the Bishop's Palace to the fish in the moat and dream of the Zambezi, or prowl the cloisters to the terror of the choristers...


In the north porch is the story of the martyrdom of St Edmund; here he is being shot full of arrows by the beastly Vikings, who then chopped off his head and threw it into the woods


...where it was guarded by a virtuous wolf, until rescuers came along, when the head called out to them, and the wolf obligingly surrendered the head, which, reunited with the remainder of the body, miraculously stuck itself back on in time for the ascent to Heaven.