Reviewed by Dr Colin N Harris from Green Man Forum
Title The Green Man
Author Richard Hayman
Publisher Shire Publications
THE GREEN MAN
That The Green Man is central to so many carvings and pictures in both religious and secular settings is well known. His (or indeed her!) ubiquitous presence has been well documented and theorised about in many books, especially since 1939 when Lady Raglan famously coined the original term whilst at Llangwm Church.
Richard Hayman has made an excellent contribution to our wealth and increasing knowledge concerning these curious, lovable and “conundrumic” faces. His scholarship and knowledge of so many aspects of his research into the architectural history of churches and other buildings have blended together to give his readers considerable insight into the nature, role, background and history of such carved faces.
He has published other books on “Wrought Iron” and “Church Misericords and Bench Ends” which have been widely and popularly acclaimed. His latest work reflects his keen studious and pragmatic analysis and rationalisation of “The Green Man” phenomenon.
From its origins and working definitions, the book progresses from its presence in Romanesque Churches, Gothic Architecture and Church Furnishings to Post-Reformation appearances in Victorian buildings. The recent cult and popularity of The Green Man Festival at Clun and many other May-time folkloric events is also covered.
He provides an excellent further reading section but as with so many other Green Man books, there is a huge problem in creating an accurate full set of suggestions of places to visit. Perhaps the bedrock and definitive directory of Green Man sites has been provided by Clive Hicks?
The book is robust, has high quality photographs and easy text to read. Its size and popularity will be undoubtedly guaranteed. My congratulations go to Richard Hayman. Long may he provide us with insights into other religious, secular and mythical curiosities!
Dr Colin N Harris 9th June 2010
Editors note: I completely echo Colin’s excellent review. I had been looking forward to this book since last year and had pre-ordered it on Amazon.co.uk. It arrived a few weeks ago and I wasn’t disappointed. Well researched and some excellent photography. The book is priced at £5.99 but if you head to our website www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk and go to the book shop section you can buy it directly from Amazon.co.uk at £4.49 (go for the free delivery option too). The link will be on our home page too for the next couple of months. It wont cost you any more than the usual Amazon price by using our link but will generate a few pence from each sale towards The Company of the Green Man to help us keep everything free. In fact if you go via any of the book links from our website to buy your books or other Amazon goodies you can help generate us a few more pennies with no extra cost to you.
Even if you do buy the book via Amazon do go and visit Shire Publications website www.shirebooks.co.uk and sign up for their newsletter. Shire produce and sell a fantastic range of beautifully created books on a wide and eclectic range of rare subjects.
Chas was born in Slough in 1952 and started painting at the age of 8. His career took him into the advertising industry where he worked as a designer, airbrush artist and creative director for some of the leading advertising agencies both within the UK and throughout the world. After leaving the industry in the late 1980’s he spent many years travelling the world, living with many native people, all of which had a profound influence on his work today. He started painting again in 2002. Since then his work has been published in various pagan journals and magazines and he is now working on a new exhibition entitled ‘The Spirit of Nature’ which will be showing in the Littlehampton Museum in West Sussex which runs from 9th June until 21st July 2010. The work will include images of the green man and spiritual places such as a series of Sussex Churches, the balance within nature and some more intricate work of wild flowers and animals. The media will range from oils to acrylic and from watercolour to pastels. This exhibition will be complimented with an outdoor exhibition running at Summer Solstice entitled ‘The Green Man in the Trees’
The launch party starts at 11am on Saturday 12th June in Littlehampton Museum. Admission is free and the proceeds from the sale of work will be donated to three women’s charities, The Goddess Foundation, Sussex International Women’s Day and Women’s Aid Worthing Branch.
The BBC broadcast a fascinating programme on The Green Children of Woolpit today. If you missed it then try the listen again facility on the BBC Radio 4 website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_four
The Green Children reportedly appeared mysteriously in a field in the village of Woolpit in twelth century Suffolk and were presumed to be brother and sister. They spoke a strange language and had green skin and would only eat green beans. The boy only survived a short time but the girl is said to have adapted to other foods, lost the green colour of her skin and learnt English. She explained that they came from an underground world known as St Martin’s Land.
Thories abound on how the legend originated and whether it is based on fact. From lost orphaned children of Flemish settlers who managed to survive on wild food and became green through a form of anaemia to lost fairy children or aliens. It is also suggested that the legend is an echo of an ancient fairy tale and links with the idea of fertility and re-birth in much the same way that the green man may do.
This year at least fourteen Jacks-in-the-Green were awoken and paraded through the streets (or woodlands) of England. These included the following:
- Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
- Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
- Rochester Jack-in-the-Green
- Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
- Deptford Jack-in-the-Green
- City of London Jack-in-the-Green
- Bristol Jack in the Green
- Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
- Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
- Brentham Jack-in-the-Green
- London Jack-in-the-Green (Beltane Bash)
- Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
- High Wycombe Jack-in-the-Green
- And a Jack in private woodlands in Sussex
If anyone knows of any we have missed please let us know at email@example.com