Thursday, August 27, 2009


Gloucester Cathedral

A Misericord (mercy seat) is a small wooden carved shelf, of
mostly grotesque design, underneath folding seats in churches.

St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire

With the seat lifted the Misericord provides a ledge that
supports the user, standing for long periods of prayer.

Holy Trinity Church, Vendome France

They were installed in English churches from the
13th Century up to the 21st but in the 1600s anything
that followed were considered 'modern copies'!

St. Mary's Church, Buckinghamshire

Many were destroyed in the Reformation of the 1600s.
Happily there are many hundreds left.

Montbenoit, Franche-Comte, Eastern France

Here is a very comprehensive website
with a lot more about the Misericord -


Delwyn said...

Hi Alaine

what weird and wonderful and strange things religion has left us with...

Happy days

ruthie said...

wonderful photos, misericord.s hold a huge fascination for me. The incredible detail & the stories they tell. Last year in chester cathedral i spent most of my time crawling about on hands & knees photographing them all. thank you for the link, an excellent site, so much info. *ruthie*

Alaine said...

Delwyn, and consideration! Poor old dears, on their feet for hours; how wonderful, a little ledge! Like me in a sheet music shop - no chair in sight!

Dear Ruthie, I wish they had been my own photos! I must frequent some churches here and seek out the misercords... We're off to Melbourne in the morning, I might duck into St. Patrick's.

steven said...

hi alaine - my grandad was a minister and the other grandfather was a lay preacher and i thought i'd pretty much seen, heard, felt, dealt with it all but this is new to me!! such a cool and uncharacteristically sensitive idea for the poor people!! thanks for sharing this. steven

Tracy said...

Very fascinating look into religious life, Alaine...Very kind some seat was give for upteen hours of prayer... I wonder why the fanciful sometimes bizarre decoration though?...hhhmmm... Happy Day :o)

Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

The misericords are fascinating things. As ever, lots of intricate detailing on something that 'mere mortals' would not normally get to see. I have taken the odd photo myself but often, even nowadays, they are not easily accessible.

Lyn said...

Totally fascinating, they possess such power, thank goodness so many remain..Thank you..
By the way, I've left a MeMe Award for you on my blog. Simple stuff, just 7 bits of info about you! Please pass it on...thanks!

Alaine said...

Steve, Derrick, Tracy, Lyn, thanks for your visit. Must go, we have to be away soon.

Lyn, thankyou but I'll have to bow out gracefully, sorry.

Susan said...

I've heard (or read) the word before, but had no idea what it meant. You would think that I would be a little more curious, wouldn't you? They are quite hideously beautiful!

Oliveaux said...

History is always very fascinating. Interesting to learn some more.Thank you for your comment on my blog...have a lovely weekend. Ax

Alaine said...

Hello Susan, Some quite grotesque; I wonder if the carvers were having a giggle!

Alaine said...

Hello Amanda (Oliveaux), Thanks for dropping by and enjoy your Sunday in sunny Queensland. We're having a lot of rain here, which is good.

love101 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ces said...

Hello Alaine, I know what they are. We called them "misericordia".You know, these things give me comfort now. I used to avoid them and the whole church issue and now, it gives me peace.

Alaine said...

Hello Ces, so true. I don't belong to a congregation where I live but when away somewhere, there is always a church that draws me in for a quiet rest and, inevitably, I always think of my parents.