Sunday, 15 July 2018

Angels and an Arc of Angels

Angels are God’s messengers and they are most often found in places of worship.  However in parts of Somerset they can also be found in some more unexpected places.

Angel Roofs

In the 15th and early 16th centuries several hundred angel roofs were built in England.  Of these, more than 140 angel roofs survive. They are almost always found in churches, and over 80% are located in East Anglia, particularly in Norfolk and Suffolk.  Bedfordshire, Devon and Denbighshire have a handful between them and Somerset has about 10, depending on how many angels you need for it to count as an angel roof:
  • St Cuthbert's Wells 
  • Selworthy
  • Evercreech
  • St Mary Magdalene, Taunton
  • Long Sutton
  • Westonzoyland
  • Muchelney
  • Leigh-on-Mendip
  • Cleeve Abbey
  • Martock
  • Norton St Philip
The earliest known angel roof is at Westminster Hall in London.  It was constructed between 1395 and 1398.  Many angel roofs were destroyed by Protestant iconoclasts during and after the 1540s.  However some survived, probably because being so high up they were out of easy reach.  Some surviving angel roofs are colourfully painted, while others are plain wood.

Angel at Cleeve Abbey

Cleeve Abbey Refectory Roof
This wagon roof was constructed in the 15th century by Abbot David Juyner.

Cleeve Abbey Gatehouse

All Saints' Church, Selworthy

Entrance doors, St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

St Giles' Church, Leigh-on-Mendip

St Giles' Church, Leigh-on-Mendip


Church of St Peter and St Paul, Muchelney
This is an unusual roof of painted angels, which were painted in the early 17th century


Angels behind the altar at Holy Trinity Church, Chantry

St Peter's Church, Evercreech

St Peter's Church, Evercreech

St Peter's Church, Evercreech

St Cuthbert's Church, Wells

St Cuthbert's Church, Wells

St Cuthbert's Church, Wells

St Cuthbert's Church, Wells

St Audries' Church, West Quantoxhead

All Saints' Church, Martock
The angel roof in All Saints' Church was completed in 1513.  Sadly I wasn't able to get a good photograph of it, as the church was dark and the roof is very high.

19th century hammer beam trussed roof in the nave of the church of St Peter and St James at Norton St Philip with carved angels

Angel at Norton St Philip

Close to Bristol Airport and at the entrance to a track leading to Felton Common and St Katharine’s Church, there is an angel looking skywards, as if he is about to take flight.  He was carved from a dead beech tree by Gloucestershire based artist Ant Beetlestone in 2010.

Felton's Angel

Angel looking skywards

Back of the Felton Angel

Arc of Angels, Portishead Marina
The Arc of Angels, which is located in Central Park, was designed by Rick Kirby and erected in 2002.  It represents the new community at Portishead Marina, which gains strength and support from being united. The piece also commemorates the Second World War radio masts, which once stood near the site.
Portishead’s Arc of Angels

Arc of Angels

Angel in a wall painting at St Mary's Church, Stoke-sub-Hamdon

Angels painted on the east wall of the chancel of St Laurence Church, East Harptree 

Etched angels on the door handle of the Minster in Ilminster

Four stained glass angels around St Catherine in the Minster at Ilminster
This window is a memorial to Charles & Elizabeth Bailey and their daughter Mabel Bailey.  
It was dedicated in 1964. 

Chainsaw carving of an angel in the woods on the National Trust's Tyntesfield estate

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