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The Medieval Misericords in Carlisle Cathedral

Thirlie Grundy


There have been many surveys and visitations about the carving and understanding of the misericords, and many photographs, but Thirlie Grundy’s is the first study by an artist who has used both her pencil to illustrate the subtleties of every detail, and also her hands and fingers to discover parts invisible to the eye – let alone the camera. Of particular interest is her discovery that animals were, as it were, cut in two in order to be shown ‘in the round’.

– H.E.C. Stapleton, Dean of Carlisle, 2.5.1991

This art-historical research took from 1990 to 2019 but the result was – and still is – a stunning surprise. It turned out that the carved seats had been installed at random but, when arranged in the order in which they would have been carved, they act like the creaking wooden frames of a medieval film. This hidden part of local history turned out to be a first-hand account of the French-speaking carver’s life during his 20 year term of employment in the city.

To read the 600-year-old carver’s story, all you will need is this guide-book and a little bit of your time, but a small torch would be useful on a dismal day. When Christian services allow, the upturned wooden pictures are easily seen and are an excellent, visual introduction to those of any age who would like to know who the Carlisle carver was, and what was happening to him from 1401 to 1419.

– Thirlie Grundy, 2019





Publication Date:



Paperback; 210 x 148mm




Black and white illustrations throughout

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  • Carlisle Cathedral History