The Church Stretton Sheela na gig

 

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The church of Church Stretton is a large 14th century building with elements of previous Norman architecture in keeping with the nearby churches of Holdgate and Tugford.. The Sheela can be found on the north face of the building over an old Norman doorway. As you can see from the photograph it is quite weathered, the stone has a reddish tinge which is dissimilar from the surrounding stones but is similar to the red sandstone which incorporated from an earlier Norman chapel. Just below the carving is another small carving of a flower which appears to be of the same stone.. This would seem to indicate that this was not it's original position and might have been taken from an earlier structure. The vagina has been filled in with a small stone this may be an attempt to make the image a little less "crude". An unusual feature of this figure is the fat thighs or knees. You can just make out vestigal ribs on the chest of the figure. All in all the carving is quite crude which again makes it look at odds with the rest of the church. It is quite high up on the church and appears to be guarding the door below it. This is also the case with the Tugford figures and to a lesser extent the Holdgate Sheela. Another feature of the carving is that it has been dressed only on the left hand side the other sides being left rough. This may indicate it was once part of an opening such as a window or doorway

The Tugford, Holdgate and Church Stretton Sheelas are all in the same vicinity. Holdgate and Tugford being a mile distant from each while Church Stretton is about 10 miles away. You can see the positioning of the sheela below, the flower carvings are just to the right of protruding black stone above the middle of the arch. The door is no longer in use and if you go into the church you can see that it is in fact blocked up. To the right of the doorway is a Saxon stone coffin thought to be one of the oldest artefacts the church owns.

There is more information on the Shropshire group of sheelas at the Shropshire Promotions website

 

 

The sheela above the Norman doorway

The saxon stone coffin near the sheela.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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