Anglican All Saints Church in Hereford, England, grabbed the headlines recently when an X-rated genitalia carving discovered in the church overlooking the congregation seating area went viral.
All Saints Church is the largest church in Hereford, and it’s classified as a Grade II listed building on the UK’s National Heritage List. The parish was founded in the early 10th century AD, and it was listed in William the Conqueror’s 1086 AD “Doomsday Book.”
Now, a Reddit post showing the church’s lewd genitalia carving, of a man holding up his legs and revealing his testicles, has gone viral.
A closeup of the genitalia carving at Anglican All Saints’ Church in Hereford, England, which recently went viral on the internet. ( updatechartuc)
Even Snopes Verified This Genitalia Carving Image!
The controversial genitalia carving first became known to the public in the late 1990s after English food writer and restaurateur Bill Sewell opened his cafe at All Saints. A new seating gallery that was built over the cafe’s kitchen offered diners a bird’s eye view of the bizarre carving.
According to Hereford Times the image has now been shared by thousands of people on social media including Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. And so controversial was the image deemed, in today’s sensitive online climate, that the so-called “fact checker” site Snopes had to verify its authenticity.
According to The Sun , the man in the carving is appropriately nicknamed Seamus “O’Toole,” and it is thought that the man exposing his testicles was created by a disgruntled medieval wood or stone carver .
The carving came into focus back in 1998, according to the Birmingham Mail, who reported that an “enterprising vicar,” Father Andrew Mottram, suggested monetizing the figure by selling postcards featuring its image, but his scheme was slammed by the parochial church council.
One of the most famous female sheela na gigs in the UK on the church at Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England. This one dates to the 12th century AD. (Pryderi / CC BY-SA 3. 0)
The Quest To Understand Sheela Na Gigs
“Sheela na gig” is the term that describes any architectural figure exposing their genitalia , generally in churches. Over the years various theories have been proposed in an attempt to answer what these figures originally meant or represented. While many believe sheela na gigs are a warning against lust, one of the Seven Deadly Sins , others believe these carvings had a perceived protective function with the power to distract “ the evil eye .”
An 18th-century illustration by Charles Eisen from La Fontaine’s Nouveaux Contes (1764) showing a demon being repulsed by the sight of a woman lifting her skirt to display her genitals. (Charles Dominique Joseph Eisen / Public domain )
Most often sheela na gigs show female figures with spread-eagled legs exposing over-sized vaginas. This has led many historians to interpret them as having symbolically helped mothers through childbirth. But most often, the symbol is associated with pagan ideas about fertility .
With so many different interpretations only one thing is for sure, and that is, nobody is quite sure exactly what these characters represented, in the different contexts they are found. Whilst most have been discovered in Ireland and Great Britain, they can also be found in France, Spain, Italy, and Norway. An entry on Sheelangig.org confirms that male examples are rare.
The X-rated male figure in the mouth of a gargoyle at the 12th-century St Michael the Archangel’s Church in Laxton, Nottinghamshire, which according to Sheelangig.org combines “the exhibitionist motif with the devoured sinner.” ( htcRichardCroft)
The Legacy Of Men’s Balls In English Churches
A similarly X-rated male figure can be seen on the 12th century St Michael the Archangel’s Church in Laxton, Nottinghamshire, which according to Sheelangig.org combines “the exhibitionist motif with the devoured sinner.” The figure consists of a monster from hell devouring a man with only the legs buttocks and genitals visible.
However, we will end this report with the cringe-worthy story a story of another English man who felt the need to mark a church with his own balls. His real ones!
In 2013, the Daily Mail told the story of a man who had “cut off his own testicles and stormed into a church shortly before a couple were due to be married.” The good Reverend Bob Wallace, and a florist, were preparing for a wedding ceremony at Hutton All Saints Church in Essex when the man burst in around 12.25pm holding his testicles in his hand.
At the time, Brentwood Weekly News reported on one eye-witness account saying “There was blood everywhere… the man had chopped his testicles off with a pair of scissors and was going berserk, chucking chairs around. I ’m surprised he didn’t pass out.”
So here we leave our excursion into the history of genitalia carvings in English churches. We should probably remain ever hopeful that stonemasons, carpenters and enraged exes have now all calmed down and we have seen the last of genitalia carvings displayed in Christian churches, at least for now.
Top image: The genitalia carving in All Saints Church in Hereford, England is located above where the congregation would sit. Recently the image went viral on the internet. But it is only one of many lewd images of this kind to be found in churches across the UK! Source: Hereford Times
By Ashley Cowie