statues


statues
   It seems to be a widespread instinct for passers-by to touch statues, in greeting or for luck, if they represent a popular personality, as when Tory Members of Parliament rub the toe of Winston Churchill's statue at the entrance to the Chamber, and Liberals that of Lloyd George. Animal images also attract this affectionate gesture; the nose of a lion-faced door-knocker at Durham Cathedral is well polished by the constant touch of visitors, as is the beak of a certain falcon in the Egyptian Gallery of the British Museum. The other recurrent piece of folklore about a statue is the assertion that it gets down from its pedestal and walks about, or sits down for a rest, whenever it hears midnight strike; the lions at the door of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, either roar or drink from the gutter. Such statements are a catch, for 'when it hears' is an impossible condition (cf. standing stones).
   Tomb effigies are a striking feature in village churches, and a fruitful inspiration for storytelling, especially if damaged, or if the accompanying heraldry is misunderstood. One example among many is an Elizabethan family memorial at Broad Hinton (Wiltshire) where several figures have their hands broken off; legend says this shows how the hands of Sir Thomas Wroughton and his sons withered away after he wickedly hurled his wife's Bible in the fire.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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