Roof Bosses at Tewkesbury Abbey
The ribs of the lierne vaulting of the Abbey's many ceilings
intersect in a variety of ornately carved stone bosses.
Most famous are the fifteen above the central nave which illustrate the life of Christ. Most unusual are those that flank them, above the sides of the nave, which show angels playing musical instruments.
Boss showing The Last Supper Boss showing Christ in Majesty
In the aisles, ambulatory and chapels gilded bosses abound, amongst them over 50 foliate heads,
more commonly known as Green Men. Although regarded as pre-Christian, they are found in religious houses all over the world. There are four main types of Green Man: ‘foliate’ in which the face becomes leaves; ‘disgorging‘ where leaves issue from the mouth; ‘bloodsucker’ where branches and leaves spring from the mouth; and ‘Jack in the Green’, often simply a head peering out of a frame of foliage. The meaning of these foliate heads is much debated. Some regard the Green Man as a fertility figure, while others now consider him to be a representation of one of the seven deadly sins, probably Lust. One common theme unites them all: the communion between man and the natural world.