Canterbury Cathedral Green Man, No 26 The Green Man
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Green Man title picure

See catalogue No. 40

The Green Man of Wells Cathedral Undercroft

The term Green Man, or Jack O' The Green, has been applied to an amazing array of images of the human form sprouting, or combining with, foliage. No single physical definition of him is possible, since he encompasses a multitude of variations on the theme. The representations range from almost portrait-like faces which sprout foliage almost as an afterthought, to the highly stylised, in which the leaves dominate and the human features are secondary. Images of the Green Man are as varied and diverse as nature itself, he has no definitive fixed form, but is the collective result of thousands of stone masons and wood-carvers expressing the concept that is the Green Man.
 

With his luxuriant foliage he represents fertility and regeneration. But the Green Man also frequently wears a stern expression; he is not totally benign to mankind. He also serves to remind us that the natural laws of the earth cannot be ignored – nature, not man, is the definitive master! Nature, bountiful and beautiful provider, is quite capable of delivering a formidable rebuke to humanity if we should abuse or disregard it. No matter how clever mankind becomes, we still inhabit, and are supremely dependant upon, a world created and governed by nature - not us! We can only live in harmony with our environment; ultimately nothing less will be tolerated. So the Green Man is to be seen, therefore, not as a cuddly or sentimental puppet of man’s, but a primitive symbolic ambassador from the natural world. It is perhaps, in part, this autocratic aloofness, which gives the imagery of the Green Man such appeal.

See catalogue No. 26

The Green Man of Canterbury Cathedral's Black Prince's Chantry

See catalogue No. 17

The Green Man of Winchester Cathedral

Although the Green Man's image is not the sole preserve of the Church, he appears on other buildings (notably the many Green Man pubs scattered across Great Britain), it is true that the vast majority of them are to be found in churches. His proliferation in churches is almost part of his mystery, since he frequently appears more than once (occasionally many times) in any particular church, yet he is not fundamental to the church’s teachings. Neither is the Green Man a British phenomenon, his images are scattered liberally across Europe and, indeed, can be found virtually all over the globe. The combining of the human face with foliage is a theme which has transcended many cultural differences, religions and backgrounds.
 

The Green Man is one of the most ancient and most pagan of all symbols to be found in the Christian church.  Certainly his origins are entwined inextricably with paganism, folk lore and superstition as well as the church, but just how old is he? Where exactly did he originate? Who carved the first Green Man? And how exactly did this extraordinary piece of imagery come to spread so comprehensively across Britain and Europe? Perhaps there is a certain inevitability with such an enigmatic figure as the Green man that no records exist to give us any clue to his exact origin – no one has claimed him. His message to humanity, as we attempt to manipulate and further dominate every aspect of our planet and all the miraculous life therein, is probably more relevant today than ever before. Yet he remains forever mysteriously swathed in foliage and cloaked in silence.

Oliver Webb

See catalogue No. 42

The Green Man of Woodchester Park Mansion

Catalogue No. 12. Catalogue No. 34.
The two Green chaps above appear on our miniatures, No. 12, Hereford Cathedral on the left. No. 34, Exeter Cathedral on the right.

 

 


No. 40GNo. 40 with custom finish.No. 40G




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The finest range of truly authentic miniature Green Men handmade, to museum quality,

by Herefordshire stonemasons Martin Webb and Oliver Webb.