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What are gargoyles
and grotesques?
   
         
Gargoyle or Grotesque?
   

Gargoyles and grotesques are carved figures and faces usually found on churches and other old stone buildings.

The difference between a gargoyle and a grotesque is easy to remember. A gargoyle is a decorated waterspout that projects from a roof and carries rainwater away from the walls of a building, protecting it from damage, whilst a grotesque is a decorative carving that has no functional architectural purpose. 

Image of a Gargoyle!

A Gargoyle!
Has a physical purpose

 

Image of a Grotesque

A Grotesque!
Is just decorative

 
 

Common Types of Gargoyle & Grotesque

There are many different types of gargoyle and grotesque from animal and human figures, some based on the faces of local people, to strange demons and nightmarish creatures. Below is a list of the most common types you can find in Gloucestershire.

Click on the boxes below to reveal the diferent kinds of gargoyle and grotesque!

Screamers

A Screamer

Screamers

These have their hands clasped to their heads and their mouths wide open. They were probably meant to remind churchgoers of the torment that lay ahead for them if they failed to attend church regularly.

Tongue-pokers

A Tongue-poker

Tongue-pokers

Many gargoyles are poking their tongues out and blowing a raspberry. This wasn't rude like today because in medieval times this gesture was used against traitors, heretics and blasphemers.

Musicians

A Musician

Musicians

Many medieval churchmen thought music was a self-indulgent luxury that could lure the weak-willed and ignorant into all kinds of sins and other trouble!

 
Dragons

A Dragon

Dragons

In Christianity, the dragon or serpent is always depicted as evil and is used to represent the Devil. In other religions, dragons are more benevolent.

Click here to learn more about Glocestershire Dragons!

Angels

An Angel

Angels

Angels are mystical beings that act as instruments of God; as messengers, punishers of wrongdoings and givers of moral strength. Sometimes individual angels can be identified by the thing that they are carrying (if anything).

Demonic creatures

A Demonic creature

Demonic creatures

Demons are by far the most common gargoyles. They represent sinners who fail to repent and have been consigned to Hell. Most are vaguely human but have a mix of animal features. Some demons are thought to be good spirits being used to frighten or scare off unwanted demons!

Lions

A Lion

Lions

Lions are popular as gargoyles as the lion represented the majesty of Christ.

Humans

A Human

Humans

Human forms are fairly common, many being well carved.

Rude gargoyles!

A Rude Gargoyle

Rude gargoyles!

Why? We just don'tknow!

There are many other types of Gargoyles and Grotesques such as animals and face pullers!
Click here to view a gallery of Gloucestershire Gargoyles and Grotesques and see how many
different types you can find? After you've done that maybe you would like to take the
Gargoyles and Grotesques Quiz below and see how much you have learned?
     

This interactive requires Macromedia Flash Player 8 or above.
This is available (free) to download fromhttp://www.macromedia.com/software/flashplayer.