Abingdon, Church of St Helen
The 13th-century church was much re-modelled through the ages. Two Victorian Green Men appear as window stops on the exterior, one disgorging foliage, the other a leafy face recalling the theatre masks of tragic drama. Thanks to Gillian Harrison for the information and photographs.
Abingdon, Church of St Nicholas
There are six beautiful Victorian Green Men carved into the tracery of the choir by Chapman of Hanworth, Norfolk. They date to 1880 when the church was refurbished. Another face is high on a tie-beam across the nave, probably from the same period of restoration, or conceivably from the earlier church. One (or perhaps two) badly eroded Green Men are situated on the exterior parapet on the south wall of the nave; in all likelihood from the Victorian restoration. In the adjoining Abbey Gateway, further grotesque heads scowl amid sculpted sheaves of foliage. Thanks to Dick Barnes and Gillian Harrison for much of the information above; and to Gillian Harrison for the tie-beam photograph.
Aston Tirrold, Church of St Michael
A brightly painted Green Man presides to the right of the chancel arch, facing the arms of Magdalen College, the church’s patron, to the left. No problem in dating this Green Man; his foliate hair proclaims 1852 when the arch was renewed as part of major alterations. His prominence, however, suggests that he may have replaced an earlier, perhaps eroded carving. (Thanks to Ruth Wylie for identifying this site).
Bampton, Church of St Mary the Virgin
Two Green Man faces, much weathered by time, guard the south doorway of this 13th-century church, leaves curling up and back from their mouths. The village of Bampton is a historic centre of the Morris, traditionally danced through the streets and gardens on Whit-Monday (nowadays May Bank Holiday).
Blenheim Palace, nr Woodstock
Two superb Green Man doorknockers guard the entrance to this great house, built for the first Duke of Marlborough in 1705-22. The palace boasts other notable examples of the Green Man in his 18th-century incarnation. At least one stone-carved image, weeping foliage, can be seen among the grotesque heads that adorn pinnacles atop the East Gate. Inside the entrance hall, little gilded heads scowl from the lanterns; there are leaf masks in the wrought iron firedogs in the dining hall; and mannerist heads on the legs of a cabinet elsewhere.
Broughton Castle
Two wonderfully expressive Green Man can be seen in the castle’s Groined Passage: one an oak leaf-coiffed man; the other a snoutier and more animal-like effigy. The arches have corbels (supporting stones) carved with a further wealth of mythological creatures. The Green Man and other images all date back to the 14th century when the original manor house was built. Note: Green Man figures have also been reported in Broughton’s church which was closed at the time of our visit.
Burford, Church of St John the Baptist
This great Cotswold church dates from the Norman period but was much remodelled in the 15th century. A Green Man corbel is sited high inside the tower, and the verger Peter Harris tells us that the sun strikes the image on what was once the Midsummer Solstice. In the Chapel of St Mary and St Anne is a remarkable tomb memorial to John Osbaldeston (d.1624) and his wife, framed by vase-shaped caryatids, male and female, with foliate draperies. A Green Man and Green Woman?
Chadlington, Church of St Nicholas
A tranquil Green Man is carved on the exterior of this 13th-century church. He can be seen on the end wall of nave, north side, paired with a somnolent, bearded figure on the south side. The Chadlington face is unusual in that vegetation is normally shown streaming downwards. Here the nose forms the trunk of a tree from which leaves sprout upwards, as eyebrows. The second bearded head does not appear to be foliate, but might almost be a representation of the same Green Man, sleeping in winter. (Thanks to Keith Mitchell for the photographs)
Click here for some fascinating notes on the ‘Tree Nose Green Man’ on the Green Man of Cercles website.
Charney Bassett, Church of St Peter
Oxford Times reader Sue Wales writes: ‘Our local church, St Peter's, Charney Bassett, has a doorway with 12 heads sprouting foliage from their mouths, several of the heads have catlike characteristics. The carvings are round the main doorway which is probably early 12th century.’ For more on catlike faces see The Missing Link?
Chipping Norton,
Church of St Mary the Virgin

In this ferocious image, vegetation streams from the Green Man’s nostrils to create a stylish moustache. The magnificent face can be seen among the carved bosses in the roof of the 14th-century porch (one of only three hexagonal porches in the country). The other bosses in the porch are equally striking, and include a sheep overpowering a wolf.
Cumnor, Church of St Michael
In the choir are nine late mediaeval ‘poppy head’ bench-ends, including bearded heads of two Green Men with oak leaves for headgear. Both appear to have had their noses cut off – perhaps legacies from February 1644 when Cromwell’s troops occupied the church and carried off its weathercock. Bizarre faces from Norman times grin and grimace from corbels in the aisles, and the church boasts the only life-size statue of Elizabeth I in existence.
Dorchester, Abbey
Church of St Peter & St Paul

Inside this great abbey church, not far from the lead font, a 14th-century Green Man appears on a south east corner corbel. He dates from the same time as the beautiful Jesse Window whose undulating branches, sculpted with foliage, depict Christ’s descent from the Tree.
East Hagbourne, Church of St Andrew
This church is rich in interest, with many carved grotesques inside and out. The exterior, South Aisle cornice dates from the 15th century and features as a Green Man wearing late mediaeval headgear, with foliage issuing from his mouth. Thanks to Rosemary Howden for the information and photograph.
East Hendred,
Church of St Augustine

The Perpendicular tower's exterior west window is flanked by a pair of Green Men, one disgorging foliage the other with a branch of foliage issuing from its neck. Or is that a hand, waving a branch? The two figures are contemporary with the original 16th-century building. They appear to have been designed as a pair in that the foliage is on opposite sides of the head thus giving a symmetrical balance. Inside the church are many heads on the columns and capitals, together with foliage at the base of all the capitals. Thanks to Rosemary Howden for the information and photographs.
Ewelme, Church of St Mary
A Green Man adorns the exterior north wall frieze, above the first buttress to the east of the north porch. The carving is contemporary with the original church and dates from the 15th century. Thanks to Rosemary Howden for the information and photograph.
Eynsham, Church of St Leonard
Carved beneath the rim of the font, amid a knobbly mass of foliage, a baleful Green Man scowls out, disgorging vegetation. Guidebooks refer to the font as 15th century, adding that it may be a capital from the old abbey of Eynsham (founded 1005 and rebuilt 1109). Does that mean that the Green Man himself was carved earlier than 15th century? More research needed.
Fritwell, Church of St Olave
The 12th-century south porch has a tympanum with two handsome Green Beasts. The guide describes them as ‘feeding from the Tree of Life or Knowledge’ but they look to us as if they are disgorging rather than consuming! They may derive from the makara of Indian tradition; see The Missing Link?
Fulbrook, Church of St James the Great
Thanks to John Hoyle for pointing us to the splendid roof bosses in this church. One wood-carved Green Man pokes out a tongue from the boss closest to the chancel arch. Two other roof bosses also depict foliate heads. The church dates from the Norman period, with remodelling in the 13th century; the dates of the Green Men have yet to be ascertained.
Great Rollright, Church of St Andrew
Around the top of the porch, and extending east and west round the exterior of the south aisle, runs a corbel table of 47 carvings: human faces, grotesques, animals and rosettes, probably dating from the 14th century. A Green Man and Green Woman flank the westernmost window. The Green Man has deteriorated badly in the last hundred years (indeed, it has worsened noticeably within living memory, a resident told us). But the female figure, with her branch of oak and acorns, is clearly delineated – a rare example of a mediaeval Green Woman in Oxfordshire.
Iffley. Church of St Mary
A magnificent Norman church of around 1170 AD, teeming with sculpted images. A Green Man is among the carved figures in the exceptionally well preserved south doorway. Elsewhere, with the superb zig-zag and beakhead ornamentation, are many representations of a cat-like face, disgorging beaded ribbons, much associated with the Green Man of Norman times. See The Missing Link?
Kelmscott, Church of St George
The site is especially known through connections with William Morris who lies buried in the churchyard. Inside, one of the 15th-century corbel heads supporting the roof appears to depict a face with garlanded hair and vegetation streaming from the mouth. More research needed on this as yet unacknowledged Green Man.
Kidlington, Church of St Mary
A Green Man supports the niche on the north wall of the Nave, more or less opposite the south door through which you enter the church. The niche is Tudor - there is a Tudor Rose within. Thanks to John Amor, Church Guide, for identifying the figure and for supplying the photograph.
Little Milton, Church of St James
An anguished Victorian Green Man ≠ practically gagged by foliage ≠ adorns the exterior of the church which was built in 1844 by John Hayward of Exeter.
Merton, Church of St Swithun
A memorial to Elizabeth Poole (d.1621) bears Green Man motifs both male and female. There are marked similarities between this and the Pleydell memorial at Sparsholt, inviting speculation that they were the work of the same mason. In both cases the foliate hair is perforated with small holes, a feature occasionally seen in Green Man carvings elsewhere. Were the holes to hold flowers or greenery to adorn the face?
North Leigh, Church of St Mary
The Wilcote Chapel, at the eastern end of the north aisle, has 15th-century stained glass windows adorned with lion-like faces, disgorging foliage. Mediaeval images of the Green Man are rare in stained glass – and the Chapel boasts new fewer than 12 heads. Many thanks to Ruth Wylie for the photograph, and for directing us to this and many other sites.
Shipton-under-Wychwood,
Church of St Mary the Virgin

The 15th-century font is decorated with eight carvings, three of which are images of the Green Man. Another motif shows the bear and ragged staff, badge of the Warwick family, indicating that the font was given by them to the church. Among the remaining images one shows the rose en soleil, a badge of Edward IV which allows the font to be dated with reasonable confidence to between 1461 and 1470 when the King and Richard Neville, known as Warwick the Kingmaker, were allies.
South Moreton,
Church of St John the Baptist

An exterior window stop features a Green Man with fiercely bulging eyes; apparently 19th century, perhaps from around 1849 when the bellcote was added to the church?
South Leigh,
Church of St James the Great

The church is remarkable for its 14th and 15th century wall paintings which include a wonderfully vigorous Doom painting over the chancel arch. The Green Man is sculpted outside, over the west door; the bald head and spouting leaves have some affinities with the figure on Eynsham’s church font. (Thanks to Heather Horner for pointing us to this site)
Sparsholt, Church of the Holy Rood
Extraordinary memorials are to be found in a church slumbering in the Vale of the White Horse. In the chancel recess is a 14th-century knight with hood of mail and praying hands, overlooked by two half-human beasts who stream foliage their mouths. In the nave is a wall monument commemorating John Pleydell (1591) and his wife Bridget (1623). A chubby Green Man presides low down in the middle, while below, two foliate female heads help support the whole – further rare examples of the Green Woman in Oxfordshire. The church is also known for three remarkable 14th-century wood-carved tomb effigies in the south transept.
Sutton Courtenay, Church of All Saints
A mischievous Green Man of the 'cat mask' type presides to the left of the chancel arch. He dates from the Late Norman era. Thanks to Green Man enthusiast Mike Harding for directing our attention to this site.
Watlington, Church of St Leonard
In the 15th-century Lady Chapel, a diminutive Victorian Green Man and Green Woman peer out of the foliage of a column capital. The church was much restored in the 19th century and, as at Aston Tirrold (above), we wonder whether the faces may have replaced effigies of an earlier date..

West Hanney,
Church of St James the Great

Is it a face? A 12th-century carved capital to the right of the entrance depicts a leafy pattern strongly suggestive of a foliate mask. Ambiguous images like this are not uncommon in Norman decoration. Sceptics might query it, but we are pretty sure that there is a visual pun in the motif. The give-away is the beaded band issuing from the ‘mouth’. Inside the church are exotic foliate dragons carved in the 19th century carved into the wooden chancel screen. Ambiguous images like this are not uncommon and we are pretty sure that there is a visual pun in the motif. The give-away is the beaded band issuing from the ‘mouth’, as described in The Missing Link? Inside the church, exotic foliate dragons of the 19th century are carved into the chancel screen.

Woolstone, Church of All Saints
Built directly under White Horse Hill and the ancient Ridgeway path, the church dates from 1195 and was somewhat enlarged around 1230. Two grotesque heads are situated on either side of the chancel arch, to the north a foliate lion, to the south a man from whose mouth and nostrils issue what might be vegetation – or is it fabric? The images have not been dated but may have been carved during the 13th century alterations. On a boss in the roof of the chancel itself is a wood-carved Green Man with protruding tongue, weeping foliage. The roof timbers are thought to be 15th-century work. Outside, a tiny stone head presides over an arch in the south wall. (Thanks to Brien O’Rourke for pointing us to this site)

OXFORD (UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS)
Bristling with monstrous gargoyles, droll figures and leafy faces alike, the college and university buildings present us with a daunting challenge. Green Men peer out in profusion from both inside and outside buildings, competing for attention with all the other carved images. Dating the faces is not always easy, as even college archives are not always clear about which are from the earlier periods and which are the work of Victorian refurbishers. Here are some notable sites:

All Souls
Two foliate heads look down on Radcliffe Square, dates to be confirmed.

Balliol
(Old Hall, ceiling bosses, dates tbc)
Bodleian Library
(Various, stone-carved, exterior, dates tbc)

Brasenose
The exterior here is liberally sprinkled with Green Man faces. A fine example, with leaves sprouting from mouth and eyebrows, is centrally placed over the main gate on Radcliffe Square. This may date back to the time of the collegeís foundation in 1509. Heading towards the High Street you can see another carved into the wooden door of a side entrance, between two splendid gilded fauns. Yet more Green Man faces can be seen on the doors and door surrounds of Brasenoseís High Street front, completed in 1887-1911.

Christ Church
Oxford grandest college is also an epicentre of Green Man imagery. Foliate faces loom all about; from walls, columns, roof bosses and door surrounds. Especially beautiful carvings can be seen on the 13th-century tomb of St Frideswide in Christ Church Cathedral. Made in 1289, the Shrine is the Cathedralís oldest monument, and shows three serene stone faces peeping out from behind exquisitely carved foliage. Images of a Green Woman? Or perhaps of St Frideswide herself, hiding in the woods from her unwanted suitor?

Examination Schools
The foliate face of a lion looks down on scholars as they enter to take their exams. Situated on the High Street, the building was designed by Victorian architect Thomas Graham Jackson, in Jacobean style. The first exams were taken there in 1882.
Exeter
Looking down over Broad Street. Date tbc

Jesus
Two Green Men survey Ship Street from the walls of Jesus College (above Russell & Bromley), one wearing an especially sardonic expression. Apparently date from the time of Victorian rebuilding.

Magdalen College
The great 15th-century college is festooned with gargoyles, but not all are as old as might be thought. The Green Man carvings on St Swithunís Building are Victorian, dating from 1882. Thanks to Ruth Wylie for the photograph.

Merton
High up in the college chapel, five superb late 13th-century Green Men adorn corbels at the bases of the roof pillars. All are in varying states of anguish, two of them with flowering plants bursting from a nostril. Green pigment still adheres to the backgrounds of the carvings. A Green Man of uncertain date also looks out onto Merton street, and other foliate faces adorn the quads.

New College
Founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, New College has a youthful Green Man in the entrance porch. Situated among the ceiling bosses, he seems to be weeping foliage. Another Green Man, radiating vegetation, adorns a roof boss at the approach to the chapel. But perhaps New College is chiefly remarkable for its countless wood-carved images. In the chapel the Green Man can be seen on from several of the 14th-century misericords (carved images underneath the seats). And he is a recurrent motif in the Hall panelling which dates from 1533—5.
Oriel
Victorian Empire-builder Cecil Rhodes was an undergraduate at this 14th-century college and left a large bequest to the establishment. With the money the High Street front was rebuilt in 1909-11 by Basil Chamneys; besides a central tribute to the benefactor the front also bears large foliate heads which appear to be portraits of Rhodes himself - as Green Man.
Pembroke
Two Green Man faces look out over Pembroke Square from a college founded in 1624 by James I. Inside the porch, three more Green Men look down from the roof bosses.
St John’s College
An astonishing variety of grotesques adorn Canterbury Quad, designed by London architect Adam Browne. They were commissioned by Archbishop Laud who was President of the college from 1611-21 and include many carvings identifiable as Green Men.

OXFORD (CITY)

Old County Hall
Oxfordís Old County Hall was built in 1841, in Norman castle style. The early cat-like form of the Green Man, is depicted.

Oxford, Church of St Mary the Virgin
This grand church on the High was for centuries the place where the University had its seat of government and staged its official ceremonies. Spandrels of the 15th-century sedilia feature two Green Men. Thanks to Ruth Wylie for identifying this site, and for the photograph.
St Martinís, Church of
Standing at Carfax in the centre of the city, St Martinís was long the Town Church of Oxford. The mediaeval building was largely demolished in 1820, but the 13th century west tower survives as a notable landmark, well known for the two quarterboys in picturesque Roman costume who strike bells at every quarter hour. From the battlements high above, a Green Man looks down the High Street, presumably dating from the time of the 19th-century restoration. His is the face of our Green Man trail logo.
Town Hall
Built by Victorian architect Henry T Hare, Oxfordís Town Hall was opened in 1897. Many bearded heads adorn the neo-Jacobean exterior. Among them are effigies of the Green Man, sometimes sticking out a leafy tongue. Inside are more foliate heads, and a wealth of Green Beasts ≠ lions and rams ≠ who disgorge bouquets of flowers from the gallery of the Main Hall.

 

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