This lychgate at Kersey in Suffolk has beautifully carved vines and birds on its
Above: Bench-end of choir stalls in Clare Church in Suffolk made from black oak
and dating possibly from the early sixteen hundreds.
Grapes have been used a lot as motifs over the centuries, and frequently in a symbolic
way. In some instances they have represented revelry and at other times blood and
sacrifice. To the Israelites grapes symbolized the promise of a new life after they
were brought back from the Promised Land. According to the New Testament Jesus said
‘I am the vine’ and so the vine has also come to represent Jesus in many of our churches.
Historically, the vine-scroll has been one of the most prolific subjects to be used
as an ornament. It was used by the Egyptians, spread to the Near East and was taken
up by Greek artists in the sixth century BC. When the Romans adopted it, it spread
with them around the Mediterranean and Western Europe. It also spread to India and
the Far East. The vine-scroll was used a great deal in the Islamic world. Because
Moslems were prohibited from using figures in their art, they embraced non-figurative
subjects with gusto. In Islamic art the vine-scroll has a long and complex history.
The Moslems developed intricate patterns using the vine as a motif and these evolved
into the style known as arabesque with its delicate stems and simplified leaves.
No other pattern type has had such versatility, longevity or geographical spread.
Above: A trade sign with grapes on a vine at Hingham in Norfolk.
Stained glass window decorated with vines at Roydon Church in Nofolk.
Stained glass window with vine motifs in repeat pattern at Eye Church in Suffolk.
ON FLOWERS AND LEAVES
Carving in wood depicting a grape vine on the rood screen in Beeston Regis Church
in Norfolk. It dates from around 1480.