Nightmares In The Sky

Gargoyle, St Saviour on The Cliff, Shanklin

This elaborate yet grotesque stone sculpture at the front of a church is actually a way of managing water. It is a waterspout, a gargoyle waterspout, and in architecture it is designed to convey rainwater away from the masonry of a building to prevent it eroding over time.

Gargoyle, St Saviour on The Cliff, Shanklin

Structures throughout history have incorporated these gargoyles within building design, especially medieval churches, and they were mainly high up and well above eye level so you could pass them by quite easily unnoticed. In essence, we may not always see them, but they always see us.

Gargoyle, St Saviour on The Cliff, Shanklin

Many of these gargoyles were crafted to represent fantastical creatures. This one appears to be half-lion and half-bird, a hybrid creature which featured in many ancient civilisations. In the images directly above and below you can see the lead-lined roof outlet through which the water is released into the carving, the water would then gush from its gaping mouth during rainfall.

Gargoyle, St Saviour on The Cliff, Shanklin

Gargoyles really took off during the Gothic period, and in symbolism it is believed that these fantastical sculptures were added to scare away evil spirits.

Interestingly the word gargoyle derives from the French gargouille, or throat, from which the verb, to gargle, also originates.

St Saviour’s on The Cliff, Shanklin, Isle of White, England. The foundation stone was laid on Ascension Day in 1867. Photographs taken August 2017.


12 thoughts on “Nightmares In The Sky

  1. WOW! This is such an interesting post, Pete! I take it that you had fine weather on your trip – otherwise you would have donned your raincoat and got a picture of water coming out its mouth wouldn’t you? Tell me you would’ve … I’d love to see it with water! Maybe next year’s holiday?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is the first time I have seen that type of smiley face on a building! I guess some architect has been on facebook for much too long πŸ™‚

      I have always had a thing for extraordinary architecture and the adornments and ornamentation used, especially in the older buildings. Grimacing gargoyles have always accompanied this, which I have always found quite fascinating and extraordinary.


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