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DateLecture
04 February 2020Murder, Sex & Mayhem in English Churches
03 March 2020Corridors of Time: Travellers through Provence & Burgundy
07 April 2020Bhutan: the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon
05 May 2020Indians, Buffalos and Storms: American West in 19th century Art
02 June 2020Toulouse Lautrec: the Golden Age of Cabaret
01 September 2020The Mottisfont Angel
06 October 2020The English Country Church: the Tudors to the Present Day
03 November 2020Handel in Georgian England
01 December 2020Is Christmas in good Taste?

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Murder, Sex & Mayhem in English Churches John Vigar Tuesday 04 February 2020

A professional ecclesiastical historian, author and broadcaster for over 35 years, John has visited and recorded over 13,000 churches in England and Wales. He is a trustee of the oldest church preservation society in Britain - The Friends of Friendless Churches. Formerly an employee of The Churches Conservation Trust, John has also served as Photographic Curator of The Kempe Trust and Hon. Secretary of The Ledgerstone Survey of England and Wales. In his spare time he has written 12 books, leads specialist church tours and is a tutor at Denman College. He also runs the www.hampshirechurches.co.uk website.


The peaceful setting of most of our medieval churches cannot cover up the fact that they contain images and references to less savoury aspects of life. Medieval murals and stained glass depict the martyrdom of saints from home and abroad, and the grisliest of dooms. Underneath misericords are images of whippings, wife beatings, and brawls whilst stone carvings depict sexual imagery rarely associated with religious buildings. Finally there are many monuments and memorials that show scenes of murder and mayhem in goodly measure including stagecoach crashes, bridge collapses, falling trees, falling bridges, falling chimneys, shootings, stabbings, mine collapses, shipwrecks and explosions. This digital lecture shows a selection of images of murder and mayhem from across the country and explains both the stories behind them and their relevance to particular periods of history.