The ‘Littlest’ Green Man

The small face of a Green Man carved into the spandrel of the 14th century arcading, St Mary the Virgin, Upchurch, Kent peers into the nave.

Green Man. Photo: © W Perkins 2022

The ‘Littlest’ Green Man in St Mary the Virgin, Upchurch, Borough of Swale, Kent measures only a few centimeters across.

This wee fella is cut into the spandrel of the 14th century arcading in the Nave. The arcade is made from the soft stone known as clunch and he is slightly obscured by the later, clumsily-daubed whitewash. His nose has been slit by a pointed metal blade and left eye gouged!

14th century blind arcading constructed out of ‘clunch,’ a very soft stone. It is uncertain as to whether the arcading is in its original position along the south wall of the nave or has been moved from elsewhere. View to the south-east.
Photo: © W Perkins 2022

The Swale encompasses the Isle of Sheppey as well as the towns of Sittingbourne & Faversham, all of whom have their own array of unique churches. Surveys undertaken in these ancient buildings have recorded a fascinating corpus of medieval and historic graffiti (including inscriptions and figurative art) which will be discussed in this illustrated talk.

Many of the marks are so-called ‘ritual protection marks’ – also known as ‘apotropaics’ (from the Greek, ‘to turn away evil’) whose purpose appears to have been was to defend the buildings against evil spirits, to protect them from the evil eye and, in some cases, to act as counter-witchcraft measures.

Two poorly-executed ‘protective’ circles have been cut into the pier of the arcade.
Photo: © W Perkins 2022

The churches and medieval buildings in the Borough of Swale are the subject of the first talk of 2023!

The talk will begin with a study of the medieval buildings within the area of the Swale and then expand the discussion to compare the corpus of graffiti and inscriptions with regional, national and international examples.

An Illustrated Talk by Wayne Perkins (BA, ACIfA)

‘In person‘ only

Friday February 3rd @ 7.30pm

Sheppey Little Theatre, Meyrick Road, Sheerness ME12 2NX

Hosted by: Sheppey Little Theatre


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s