John E. Vigar MA, FSA Scot., FRSA

Murder, Sex and Mayhem in English Churches

Like most people I enjoy the peace and serenity offered by our parish churches, but having visited and recorded over 12,000 of them I have found they also contain countless images of Murder, Sex and Mayhem.

Medieval murals and stained glass depict the martyrdom of saints from home and abroad, and the grisliest of dooms. At a lower level may be found misericords showing whippings, wife beatings, and brawls.

Finally there are many monuments and memorials that show scenes of murder and mayhem in goodly measure including stagecoach crashes, bridge collapses, falling trees, falling bridges, falling chimneys, shootings, stabbings, mine collapses, shipwrecks and explosions. This digital lecture will show a selection of images of murder and mayhem from across the country and explain both the stories behind them and their relevance to particular periods of history.

Suggested reading:

Who’s buried where in England by Douglas Greenwood (1999)
Church Monuments by Brian Kemp (2008)
Monuments in English Churches by Katherine Esdaile (1937)
Discovering Churchyards by Mark Child (1982)

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