Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture

Grotesque

A grotesque is a carved figure, usually of a mytholigical creature, demon, or strange beast, used as an ornamental feature in church decoration. The term is sometimes confused with gargoyle, which is a special type of carved beast used to decorate a drainpipe. Grotesques can be found almost anywhere inside or outside a church, but are often used to decorate a frieze just under the eaves or as projecting carvings on a tower. Grotesques might depict human figures or faces, demons, animals, or other mythical creatures, often with exaggerated fierce of humourous expressions. Some are obviously meant to lampoon real local characters or represent church patrons.

Related: Gargoyle  

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