All Things Green Man & The Traditional Jack-in-the-Green

Archive for Aug, 2010

Tim Healey on Questions Questions

Eagle eared listeners may have heard Tim Healey on Radio 4’s Questions Questions yesterday with his query relating to the possible eastern ancestory of the green man. Also appearing on the programme was Mercia MacDermott author of “Explore Green Men”. For those who missed it you can listen again at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tgwlh/b00tgw75/Questions_Questions_26_08_2010/ I’ve also posted a discussion topic on the BBC discussion board.


Green Men of Normandy by Bruce Eaton

Church of Saint-Germain in Barneville-Carteret - Copyright Eleanor Eaton

Saint-Germain, Barneville-Carteret, Normandy

On a recent family holiday in Normandy we took some time out from sandcastle building duties and sampling the excellent local cider to indulge in a spot of Green Man hunting.  Without doubt the highlight was the small Romanesque church of Saint-Germain in Barneville-Carteret.  We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the rows of grotesque corbels around the outside of the church.  The pillar capitals that support the dog-toothed Norman arches of the nave were fascinating.  They featured, amongst other things, multiple examples of Green Men of the ‘face generating foliage’ type, a figure holding two serpents which seem to emerge out of his anus, a wrestler throwing his opponent to the floor whilst being attacked by a serpent, a possible Christ figure with knotwork dogs, abstract knotwork patterns and a probable Sheela-na-Gig (although the ‘lady’s area’ has been attacked with a chisel at some point in the carving’s history).  The parish priest, when interrogated by my father-in-law, claimed that the oldest parts of the church date to the tenth century.  Clive Hicks, in his excellent field guide, dates the capitals to the twelfth century.[1] I would tentatively suggest an eleventh century date, but am happy to stand corrected.  Photographs of the capitals have been added to the COTGM Flikr site so that you can make up your own minds.

I had been aware that the master masons who supervised the building of England’s twelfth century churches had largely been recruited in France (most famously the Herefordshire School),[2] but until visiting Normandy I had not fully appreciated that, as well as bringing their expertise, these master craftsmen also brought with them a complex artistic vocabulary, of which Green Man designs form but one element.  This style did not develop in isolation and many of the carvings at Saint-Germain seem to bear more than a hint of Scandinavian influence.  This is unsurprising given that the deCarteret family claim direct descent from one of the henchmen of Rollo ‘the Dane’, the founder of Normandy.


[1] Hicks, C. 2000 The Green Man – A Field Guide COMPASSbooks p75

[2] Bailey, J. 2000 The Parish Church of St Mary & St David at Kilpeck Berrington Press p23

More of Bruce and Eleanor’s pictures of Normandy Green Men can be viewed on our Flickr Site http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecompanyofthegreenman


A Pathway Through The Seasons by Rose Blakeley

Title A Pathway Through  The Seasons
Author Rose Blakeley
Publisher Attitude Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9558858-0-8
A Pathway Through The Seasons

A pathway through the seasons is a collection of 20 beautifully illustrated poems by writer and artist Rose Blakeley, The book takes you on a magical journey through a year of folklore and traditional English customs . Each poem is charmingly illustrated with a full colour picture and is accompanied by black and white drawings.
Rose grew up in countryside near the historic town of Battle, East Sussex before moving to Hastings and her poems and pictures are richly inspired by the stories and images that have accompanied her journey through life. The 20 poems include The Green Man, Robin-in-the-Hood and The Ceremony of May which is inspired by the Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green and will be hauntingly familiar to anyone who has attended this wonderful annual event.

The book is a first edition glossy hardback and its appearance is comfortingly reminiscent of the large format fairytale books of childhood that some of us literally read to pieces. It is definitely a book that will appeal to readers of all ages bringing memories flooding back to some and inspiring others to seek out the traditions, wildlife and folklore that surround us all. A great bedtime read for adult and child alike.

If you head to our website www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk and go to the book shop section you can buy this book directly from Amazon.co.uk (go for the free delivery option too). 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.
You can find more information about A Pathway through the Seasons at:
http://www.apathwaythroughtheseasons.co.uk and more information about the CD that Rose and her musician husband Garry have collaborated on inspired by the poem “The Ceremony of May” which appears in Rose’s book at:
http://www.theceremonyofmay.co.uk and which we hope to review at a later date.