If there's one symbol that I come across in my travels across the country (more often than not in churches, but also in some secular buildings) it has to be the foliate head - popularly known as 'The Green Man.'
And now it has appeared on the Coronation invite.
Here are some of the my favourite places to see the Green Man and Green Woman in the woody flesh, as it were.
Green Man Map - Where to find them.
Medieval misericord, Hexham Abbey, Northumberland.
Medieval font, St. Mary, Stow, Lincolnshire.
Choir stalls, All Saints, Wing, Buckinghamshire.
Choir Stalls, Beverley Minster, Yorkshire.
Choir Stalls, Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire.
Nave, Beverley Minster, Yorkshire.
Choir Stalls, St. Mary the Virgin, Ketton, Rutland.
Guy Shrubsole calls them 'mysterious grinning heads' and notes that 'some argue that the Green Man is a half-memory of the pre-Christian Wildwood; others contend that it appears in the greatest concentrations where there are surviving stretches of ancient woodland. '
He continues: "If nothing else, such carvings point to how familiar medieval culture was with the local ecology: an agrarian society living in tune with the seasons, utterly dependent on nature for its food, fuel and medicines. This leads us to the most likely explanation of the Green Man's true meaning as a symbol of nature's regenerative power, and its likely co-option by the Church as a metaphor for Christ returning from the dead."