ludham archive

     The Font and the Woodwose

At the back of St Catherine's Church in Ludham stands the font. It dominates the open space in front of the tower and is a fine place to be baptised.

The Font
The Font (with the Archive Map behind)

This font, carved in the 15th Century is unusual as it has two Woodwoses (Green Men) carved on it. Here is the text of the notice you see in the picture:

The font in Ludham Church is a typical 15th Century East Anglian one, eight sided, with the four Evangelists, emblems of the Lion of St Mark, the eagle, the ox and the angel on the bowl. On the corona are angels with out-spread wings. It is the figures on the shaft that make this font virtually unique, for, between the two lions séjant (sitting up), are a male and female woodwose.
The woodwose, woodhouse or woodwo, the wild man of the woods, was a popular mediaeval folklore figure, dressing in a lion's skin and in this case carrying a heavy club and shield. Female woodwoses are extremely rare, only existing on ancient tapestries and glass. This one carries a huge club, like her partner, but no shield. Her hands protrude from the fur, but her feet were damaged at the time of the reformation.
The eight sided font, in ecclesiastical symbolism, is the sign of regeneration. The woodwoses may presumably represent unregenerate man. These strange figures are seen far more in Norfolk and suffolk than in any other county.
Between the lions and the woodwoses are three figures and a missing one. These represent the Abbot of St Benet's; baptism - a mother and child; and a deacon or sub-deacon.

Perhaps the person who carved the font was keeping his options open with the old religion as well as the current one. We may never know, but the font is well worth a careful look.

Here are some more pictures;






Back to Interesting