Home.
Introduction.
Animals.
Buildings.
Lines.
People.
Plants.
Shapes.
Symbols.
Transport.
Conclusion.
Index.
Contact.
WAYSIDE ART IN EAST ANGLIA

SHAPES

MULTIFOILS

This cinquefoil-shaped window in stone is on a wall at Burston Church in Norfolk.

Here we have six cusps and foils within a circular design on an interior wall of St. Mary’s Church in Bungay, Suffolk.

These three windows each have seven cusps and foils and are to be found on an external wall of St. Peter’s Church in Stowmarket in Suffolk.

Below is a picture of the clerestory windows at St. Margaret’s Church, Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.  It has large, cinquefoil- shaped windows interspersed with smaller two-light windows.  It was John Ramsey who was responsible for the design of the church.  He was a royal master mason who retired in 1326.  The design here is reminiscent of other work done by members of the Ramsey family at the Old Palace of Westminster in London.

These tiles on the floor inside the church at Roydon in Norfolk make up a circular pattern with eight cusps and foils.  They are combined with fleur-de-lis motifs.  

Both the clocks illustrated above have twelve cusps and foils on their face, which is made in stone.  Twelve has symbolized not only the twelve tribes of Israel, but also the twelve Apostles and the twelve prophecies that are mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Revelations. These meanings are appropriate for the clock on the left, which is on the church tower at Dickleburgh in Norfolk, but what about the clock on the right, which is on a tower at Gissing Hall Hotel (Norfolk) which is not a church?  The current hotel is named after Gissing Hall that stood on a site nearby, but which no longer exists.  The building we see here today used to be the parsonage, not only inhabited, but also owned, by the local rectors.  It’s likely then that this clock, too, has religious symbolism.   

A cusp is a projecting point.  The word is derived from a Latin word cuspis meaning a spearpoint.  A foil is the space between two cusps.  ‘Foil’ is derived from the Latin word folium meaning a leaf.  Three cusps and foils joined together form a trefoil and make a shape that fits a triangle.  Four joined together form a quatrefoil and fit into a square, and five (a cinquefoil) or more can most neatly be fitted into a circle.

 

Just as other shapes with a few foils and cusps, such as trefoils and quatrefoils, often have a symbolic meaning especially when associated with churches, so do those with more foils and cusps.  Seven, for example, might symbolise the Seven Deadly Sins and twelve might stand for the Labours of the Months.

NEXT PAGE ON

QUATREFOILS

PREVIOUS PAGE

ON THE LOZENGE