About the Green Man
Carvings of the Green Man can be seen in many of the country’s oldest churches. He can often be found looking down from high in the masonry onto the congregation below.
They were common throughout the Medieval period and in some ecclesiastical buildings- Canterbury Cathedral for example, they may be counted in the dozens.
This popularity came to an abrupt end, in Britain at least, with the Reformation. The new simplified approach to Christianity brought about a backlash against the colourful and symbolic imagery of the Roman Church.
Sculptures, paintings, windows and decorations of all kinds, not only Green Men, were destroyed, white washed over or simply forgotten.
Much later, with the Victorian Gothic Revival, the Green Man became popular once again. It was an accepted design element in the sculptors repertoire and from this time onwards may be seen in both religious and secular buildings including churches, civic buildings and private houses.
While the carvings date back to the middle ages, the application of the name “Green Man” to them is of more recent origin. In the 1930s, Lady Raglan visited the church of St. Jerome, Monmouthshire, where the Reverend J. Griffith drew her attention to the carved foliate heads in his church.
Lady Raglan wrote about these heads in an article for the Folklore Society. She titled her piece “The Green Man”.