Misericords

A Strange Misericord

A Great Malvern misericord showing a woman blowing out a demon

A woman with bellows on a Great Malvern misericord

In the museum you can see images of several misericords that can be found in Malvern Priory Church.

This one isn’t among those illustrated in the museum but it too comes from Malvern Priory. Look closely and you’ll see a woman on the left and a man with a bull’s head on the right. In ancient times a demon was said to have horns, and was sometimes portrayed as a man with a bull’s head. We can assume that there is a demon in this man – perhaps the demon drink or gluttony.

Gluttony

In William Langland’s epic poem The Vision of Piers Plowman (written 1360-1400), Gluttony is depicted as a tottering drunk with wind from the rear end.

‘… And before you could say your pater noster he had … blown the round trumpet in rear of his rump…’

The glutton in the poem is so drunk that his wife and daughter have to take him home and put him to bed, where it takes him two days to recover.

A theory…

In the misericord, perhaps his wife is trying to blow out one of these demons with a large pair of bellows inserted into his rear end. What do you think?