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The W facade

Image of the feature "Miscellaneous: Panel on W face of tower" at Garton-on-the-Wolds.

by Rita Wood.

Sculpture on the W façade of St Michael, the dragon, and two angels

The carving is between the doorway and the patterned string-course and shafted window. The sculpture appears as one panel, one scene, but is on three stones, two squarish ones at the sides and a central one which is of similar size but has an arched top. Such a relief is unusual for a village church in this region.

There is/was an angel in the side panels to L and R of St Michael; they are symmetrical and were presumably identical (so far as the 12th century ever could achieve or wanted to achieve perfect repeats). They have long narrow lorus-type robes (or wings?) crossed over their body, curved wings raised above their heads and hands lifted in orant position. The dress of the L angel ends above the ankle in a broad border with saltire star pattern.

The archangel stands on a dragon, his right arm raised at the top of his spear, his left hand in the middle of its shaft, his head tilted to the R to look down at the dragon and the spear in its mouth.

Apart from its having a wing and being on its back, there is not a lot that one could say about the dragon because of its decayed state, but it was probably no more complex than the one on the doorway at Riccall.

The photographic record is scanty. There is a photo in the Conway Library, of the 1940s, ref. 39/47(16); this was used for Wood 2003a, fig. 4b. A photograph of c.1900 in the Thelwell Collection (vol. 2, p.17) illustrates the whole W façade, but with only enough detail to prove the carving is now very decayed. An image of the W face of the tower is in VCH II, plate opposite p. 129 (1971). Now there is less than ever to see. On the visit in 2016, the angel on the R had disappeared; the dragon is hardly more than a hump, only recognisable by comparison with earlier photographs. The sculpture has recently been conserved.