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
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
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.