GROTESQUE HEAD (see preceding page).
In the north wall of the nave near the eastern end, at
about eight feet from the ground, is a curious panel supported by two
corbels of early character; and, above it, a grotesque figure pulling
its mouth open. On its arms are bracelets. The whole is carved in
Bethersden marble. We could find nothing in the wall between the shafts.
This curious head has puzzled several antiquaries, and no satisfactory
explanation has yet been suggested. It may have had some reference to
the Whitsun ales. There is a grotesque figure on the porch of Chalk
Church, supposed to illustrate the humours of a church-ale: possibly
this may have been also intended for the same purpose.
On the reredos in the nave, north of the chancel arch, we
found traces of an altar fresco. Upon the removal of sundry coats of
whitewash, several faces and figures were brought to light, representing
the entombment of the Saviour. He was being borne by a female figure
(evidently the Virgin), whose countenance and tears bespoke grief.
Christ's head and robe were besprinkled with blood. There were one or
two flowers in the foreground, apparently to indicate "the
garden" where the burial took place. This pieta may have
been intended to represent one of those festivals of Passion week which
commemorate the participation of the Virgin in the sufferings of her
Son: and perhaps several green flowers, found at regular intervals on
the surrounding stone work, may have been intended for passion flowers.
Hasted, quoting from Weever, says that one of the