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WAYSIDE ART IN EAST ANGLIA

SHAPES

TREFOILS

Legend has it that the inspiration for a trefoil originated with Saint Patrick (a fifth century bishop) who is reputed to have used the three-leafed clover to explain the idea of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to the Irish.  Even if there is no truth in the legend, nevertheless the trefoil shape has had great symbolic significance for Christians and has been used frequently as a motif on church buildings, especially in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.  There is even a church whose plan is based on the idea of a trefoil: at Planes in Provence in France the church has a triangular plan with an apse (a semicircular wall) on each of the building’s three sides.

The picture above shows a large trefoil motif on a tomb canopy in Chelsworth Church in Suffolk.

Above: A trefoil in stone in a window at Earl Soham Church in Suffolk.

Above: A trefoil-shaped window on the front of a house at Boxford in Suffolk.

Right: A trefoil design tombstone in a churchyars at Hockwold-cum-Wilton in Norfolk.

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