Facing sin: late medieval roof bosses in Ugborough church, Devon (2015)

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Author(s): Andrew. Susan; Year published: 2015; Origin: Member-contributed; Pages: 
Topic(s): architecture and churches; Location(s): Ugborough

By Dr Susan Andrew
(This article appeared first in Ecclesiology Today, volume 51, January 2015.)

Having completed a PhD on ‘Late Medieval Roof Bosses in the Churches of Devon’ in June 2011, and a post-graduate Diploma in Architectural Conservation in June 2013, Sue Andrew is keen to raise awareness of both the richness and vulnerability of medieval carving in our parish churches.

In 1948 Charles John Philip Cave published Roof Bosses in Medieval Churches: an Aspect of Gothic Sculpture, his magnum opus.1 This work was based on twenty years of research, during which time Cave took over 8000 photographs, mostly in cathedrals and great churches. Cave recognised, however, that much remained to be recorded, particularly in parish churches. He expressed the hope that his book would ‘awaken an interest in the subject and result in the recording of many more roof bosses’.2 For many years though, Cave’s hope remained unfulfilled as little new recording was carried out.

In 2005 I embarked on a project to record and analyse roof bosses in parish churches across Devon, one of three West Country counties which Cave had identified as being particularly rich in these carvings. Focusing on figural bosses rather than foliate, the study was written up as a PhD thesis in 2011.3 The oak bosses of parish churches are far more vulnerable to damage and decay than the great stone bosses of the cathedral, and in this article, I shall focus on one church, Ugborough, where fifteenth-century oak bosses, among the most technically accomplished in Devon, are under threat.4

Fig. 1: St Peter’s, Ugborough, Devon, view from north west.

Ugborough is a large rural parish which stretches from the fertile lands of the South Hams northwards onto Dartmoor. The parish church (Fig. 1) may have been dedicated to St Michael before the Reformation, but, if so, it was forgotten, and the dedication is now to St Peter.5 Set in an ancient earthwork, above what was once the village green, the church is an imposing building, consisting of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, north and south chancel chapels and north vestry, north and south porches and a west tower.

The twelfth-century font and a reference in a Plympton Priory document of 1121 suggest that there was probably a church on the site by 1100. However, several phases of building and rebuilding established the predominantly late medieval church that we see today. The chancel, nave, and north and south transepts, date to the early fourteenth century, the high altar being dedicated or re-dedicated in 1311, the nave and aisles in 1323.6 The aisles were subsequently rebuilt in the fifteenth century, with the chancel chapels, vestry, and north porch also dating to this period; the west tower was completed c.1520, though was rebuilt after a lightning strike in 1872.3

The roofs at Ugborough

Fig. 2: North aisle ceiling, St Peter’s, Ugborough. There are more than 60 bosses and half-bosses in the ceiling.

Regarding the roofs, in 1847 James Davidson recorded that ‘the ceilings of the nave and chancel are coved and plain, those of the aisles flat. That of the north aisle has been handsomely enriched with ribs of carved oak with numerous bosses of various designs in figures and foliage’.7 In 1922, following late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century restoration, Beatrix Cresswell commented that:

The wagon roofs are plastered in the nave, and in the chancel renewed with plaster and purlins. The roof of the south aisle is a restoration, flat ceiled, and similar in construction to the magnificent roof of the north aisle, which is one of the finest features of the church.8

The north aisle ceiling, largely fifteenth century with some later repair, is still remarkably fine. It is divided into square panels with moulded oak ribs and purlins, each panel being divided with diagonals, and with oak bosses covering the intersections of all timbers (Fig. 2).9 Unlike the stone bosses of the cathedral which serve as keystones, the oak bosses of the parish church tend to be non-structural, but at Ugborough, as elsewhere, the carvings afford a sense of completion to the roof. In the north aisle, sixteen bosses along the centre purlin are the largest and most elaborately carved (12 foliate and 4 figural), with fifteen half-bosses where the timbers meet the north transept and nave arcade (10 foliate and 5 figural). At the intersections of the diagonals are 34 smaller bosses (23 foliate and 11 figural). Interestingly no polychromy is now evident on any of the Ugborough bosses, though this does not mean that they were never coloured.

Along the north wall, most timbers are supported on rough stone corbels, presumably those inserted in 1752–3 when Thomas Stentaford was paid for:

cleaving of stones out in the moore… working the form of the stons… for making the skofolds for puting the stons up under the beams over the North aley…[and for] taking out of the ends of the beams & inlarging the hoals & puting [the stons] in…10

Fig. 3: Deathwatch beetle damage to boss, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

This was a major undertaking, but was clearly necessary at that time to stabilise the ceiling.11 In 1957, some two hundred years after the corbels were inserted, deathwatch beetle was identified. In April 1958 the Parochial Church Council minutes recorded: ‘The ornamental bosses and other work is (sic) in a very bad state… If possible the ceiling should be saved. This would cost £750, a new ceiling similar to that in the S. Aisle would cost about £400.’ In January 1959 the vicar reported that ‘the condition of the N. Aisle ceiling is much worse than had been expected. This would increase the original estimate’.12 Fortunately, the money was found for the necessary repairs and the ceiling was saved. In the late 1980s an electrical fire, which started in the nave, caused charring and smoke damage to some bosses at the east end of the north aisle.

Most roofs in Devon churches are slate-covered wagon or barrel roofs, but the north aisle roof at Ugborough is flat and lead-covered and herein lies the problem. Deficiencies in the covering, particularly where the aisle roof abuts the nave and tower, have resulted in repeated ingress of water, causing damp staining to the ceiling and creating an environment in which rot and wood-boring beetles thrive. A report by conservator Lynne Humphries, after an inspection from a tower scaffold in April 2014, revealed that many timbers are in vulnerable state with damage caused by deathwatch beetle, especially to the nosings of mouldings and to the rear of bosses (Fig. 3), charring, cracking caused by corrosion of ferrous fixings, and dry rot to inset panels, all compromising the stability of the ceiling.13
To date then, the timbers of the north aisle ceiling have been ravaged by fire, flood, and pest, with each exacting its toll. It is imperative that the lead is replaced as soon as possible and at the time of writing grant-funding is being sought so that work may proceed.

The background to the Ugborough roof bosses

Fig. 4: Detail of penance, in the stained glass from a fifteenth-century seven-sacrament window, St Michael’s, Doddiscombsleigh, Devon.

The bosses at Ugborough are quite exceptional in terms of the quality of their carving, although, sadly, we know nothing of the men who carved them. While Cave noted ‘a striking likeness to those at Sampford Courtenay and South Tawton’, where several motifs are certainly similar, upon close inspection of detail it appears unlikely that the bosses in these three churches were carved by the same hand.14

Regarding the iconography of the figural bosses, this is of great interest as it casts light on the concerns of largely illiterate parishioners some six hundred years ago. Before looking at specific motifs, however, we should consider their religious, decorative, and social context. According to statutes promulgated by Bishop Peter Quinil of Exeter in 1287 and still in use in the fifteenth century, religious worship in the diocese was intended to be spiritually ‘medicinal’.15 Christ was the doctor through whom the disease of the soul, sin, could be cured. From his wounds flowed the sacraments which were the means to salvation, their dispensation being the principal ministry of priests. In the statutes and an appended summula (a handbook for confessors), particular emphasis was placed on the sacrament of penance, since this was the only sacrament that was both essential for salvation and repeatable.

Fig. 5: Fragment from a fifteenth-century wall painting of the seven deadly sins showing the sin of lust, St Winifred’s, Branscombe, Devon. The couple are being pierced by a long lance, wielded by a devil (to the left of the picture).

Consisting of three parts, contrition, confession, and satisfaction following priestly absolution, penance had a marked influence, directly and indirectly, on the decoration of the church building. At Doddiscombsleigh church, mid Devon, fifteenth-century stained glass portrays a priest receiving the confession of a penitent while other parishioners stand in prayer awaiting their turn (Fig. 4). In Branscombe church, east Devon, a fifteenth-century wall painting warned against the seven deadly sins which were the cause of spiritual sickness. The fragment which survives shows a devil with a long lance piercing the bodies of a finely-dressed courting couple (Fig. 5) and is thought to refer to the sin of lust.

Fig. 6: Fragment from an early fourteenth-century stained glass Doom showing terrified soul rising from grave, now in east window, St Andrew’s, Bere Ferrers, Devon.

Parishioners were left in no doubt as to what would happen if they died unshriven, for large-scale depictions of the Day of Judgement, or Doom, painted on walls or in stained glass, revealed the horrors that awaited. While the saintly were rewarded with the keys to heaven, the unredeemed were pitchforked by devils into the gaping maw of hell. A fragment of fourteenth-century stained glass from a Doom which survives in Bere Ferrers church, some 22 miles distant from Ugborough, amply displays the terror of a soul as she awaits judgement (Fig. 6).

It was within this religious and decorative context, then, that the roof bosses of Ugborough were carved. Given the style of headdresses portrayed, particularly the horned headdress worn by several of the female heads, this was probably during the second quarter of the fifteenth century when William Browning, a canon at Exeter cathedral, was the rector of Ugborough church (1422–1454).16 William was born and brought up in Ugborough, his personal patron saint being Michael, to whom the church may have been dedicated.17 William’s will is of particular interest, for among his bequests are a set of altar vessels to Ugborough church and money for the relief of the poor of his parish. For his funeral at Exeter cathedral, William requested that twenty-four literate boys, dressed in black and carrying candles, were to be paid to attend. If possible, these boys were to be from Ugborough, and a parish in north Devon where William was also rector, Berrynarbor.18

Fig. 7: Half boss of foliate head, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

William demonstrated his care and concern for Ugborough and its parishioners in his will and, as its long-serving rector in the early to mid-fifteenth century and a native of the parish, it is likely that he was involved in the project to rebuild its chapels and aisles.19 Indeed he may well have influenced the design of the roof bosses in the north aisle, even if he did not fund the carving himself.20

In the latter stages of his career, William was engaged especially in pastoral work. On twelve occasions he was appointed a penitentiary by Bishop Lacy to hear the confessions of local clergy, including those at Ugborough.21 This necessitated his absence from the cathedral during Lent, but was important for the spiritual health of the diocese since local clergy could not forgive the sins of others while oppressed by their own. The statutes required that confessors of clergy were chosen from those known to be particularly suited to the task through their ‘knowledge and merits’, and it is clear that Browning enjoyed his bishop’s full confidence in this respect. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that a penitential theme may also be detected in the figural bosses in the north aisle.

Interpreting the roof bosses

Fig. 8: Foliate head boss with furrowed brow, St Peter’s, Ugborough. The hair style may be that of a tonsured cleric.

However, interpreting medieval motifs is fraught with difficulty since each may have been imbued with a multiplicity of meanings at that time and post-medieval myth-making often confuses the issue further.

A case in point is that of the most frequently occurring figural image at Ugborough, and indeed on figural bosses throughout Devon – the foliate head. This is a carving of a human head from which emanates foliage of various kinds, most commonly through the mouth, but sometimes through ears, nose, and eyes. Figure 7 is one of possibly 11 foliate head bosses in the north aisle, all of them quite different. Often the brow is furrowed (Fig. 8) giving the head an anguished appearance.

It is noteworthy that there are many fine examples of the motif in Exeter cathedral, in the form of roof bosses (Fig. 9), but also carved on misericords, corbels and capitals. Indeed, the early use of the foliate head at the cathedral may have influenced later carvings in parish churches, which can be found in the chancel, as well as nave and aisles, indicating their relevance to clergy as well as the laity. For example, a beautifully carved foliate head, more benign than many, may be seen in the chancel at Sampford Courtenay church, west Devon (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10: Foliate head boss, St Andrew’s, Sampford Courtenay, Devon, fifteenth/early sixteenth century.

Fig. 9: Foliate head boss, Lady Chapel, Exeter cathedral, late thirteenth century.

The motif has been the subject of much fanciful speculation, being given the appellation ‘the Green Man’ in an influential, if misleading, article by Lady Raglan in 1939, and with C. J. P. Cave himself suggesting, with little evidence to support his claim, that ‘the sprouting figures… may have been intended for fertility figures or charms of some sort by their carvers’.22 However, within the fifteenth-century church in Devon, interpretation of the foliate head was probably entirely consistent with the medicinal nature of religion, in particular two parts of the sacrament of penance: contrition and confession.

Fig. 11: Roof boss of devil, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

The head contained many portals through which the disease of sin could enter the body: eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.23 In order to attain salvation, this sickness had to be expurgated by bringing it out through the mouth in confession. The furrowed brows of many of the foliate head bosses may have been intended to emphasise their contrition.

A penitential interpretation for the foliate head accords with Chaucer’s declaration in The Parson’s Tale that:

penitence… may be likned unto a tree. The roote of this tree is Contricioun, that hideth hym in the herte of hym that is verray repentaunt,… Of the roote of Contricioun spryngeth a stalke that bereth braunches and leves of Confessioun, and fruyt of satisfacioun… Penaunce is the tree of lyf to hem that it receyven.24

Fig. 12: Roof boss of devil, St Mary’s, Atherington, Devon, fifteenth/early sixteenth century.

At the east end of the north aisle at Ugborough,where it abuts the transept, is another head with open mouth: that of a horned devil with its tongue out (Fig. 11). The tongue could be ‘a restless evil, full of deadly poison’,25 and where devils are carved on roof bosses in Devon, the tongue is always shown. The east end is an unusual position for this boss, though, since devil’s heads are most frequently found towards the west end of the church. There is therefore a possibility that this boss has been moved at some stage.

A devil (Fig. 12) carved on a boss at the west end of the north aisle at Atherington church in the north of the county, is full-figured, with bared teeth and outstretched arms and legs.

Another devil is found at Ugborough, where it perches in between the horns of a lady’s horned headdress (Fig. 13). These headdresses were condemned in medieval sermons and confessors’ manuals for being extravagant, outlandish, and a category of pride, a suitable place then for the devil to find a home. A similar boss (Fig. 14) can be seen in the nave at East Budleigh church, east Devon, where it was repainted in 1974 by Peter Stoff of Vienna.26

Fig. 14: Roof boss of lady with horned headdress and devil, All Saints, East Budleigh, Devon, fifteenth century.

Fig. 13: Roof boss of lady with horned headdress and devil, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

A boss (Fig. 15) with male and female heads with twisted mouths, set close together and sporting elaborate headdresses, probably refers to ‘janglyng’ or idle talk. Idle talk was damaging both spiritually and socially, especially in a rural community where literacy was limited. The idle words and whispers of inattentive parishioners were recorded on a scroll by the demon Tutivillus so that they could be produced on the Day of Judgement. Tutivillus appears on a roof boss (Fig. 16) in the nave at Christow church, south Devon, and elsewhere on misericords, in wall paintings, and stained glass. Unusually, the female figure at Ugborough has a much-damaged bird nestling in her headdress. The bird is probably a screech-owl, described in a medieval bestiary, a moralising book of beasts, as ‘the symbol of all sinners’.27

Fig. 16: Roof boss of two male heads engaged in idle talk with above them the figure of Tutivillus, the recording demon, St James’s, Christow, Devon, fifteenth/early sixteenth century.

Fig. 15: Roof boss of male and female heads engaged in idle talk, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

Another owl, wearing a horned headdress (Fig. 17), is carved on a boss nearby, perhaps here recalling its description in a fourteenth-century homily as one of ‘the devil’s owls, that have big heads and little sense’.28 An unusual boss of a female head with headdress (Fig. 18), and dogs hanging to either side, is more of a puzzle. The dogs have their heads turned and appear to be licking themselves. This may refer to story found in a bestiary, which states that:

As the dog’s tongue licking a wound, heals it, the wounds of sinners, laid bare in confession, are cleansed by the correction of a priest. As the dog’s tongue heals a man’s internal wounds, the secrets of his heart are often purified by the deeds and discourse of the Church’s teachers.29

Fig. 18: Roof boss of female head with headdress and dogs hanging to either side, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

Fig. 17: Roof boss of owl wearing horned headdress, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

Fig. 19: Roof boss of bearded male head with mouse in ears, St Peter’s, Meavy, Devon, fifteenth/early sixteenth century.

However, as with all the bosses, it is difficult to be sure of the interpretation and the carving may refer to a specific idiom or proverb as in the case of an equally curious boss at Meavy church, west Devon (Fig. 19). Here a bearded male head with bulging eyes, prominent nose and mouth twisted into a grimace, has the head of a mouse carved in one ear and its tail in the other. The implication is that the man is an empty-headed fool, that the Word of God goes ‘in one ear and out the other’, an idiom used by Chaucer and also in a medieval sermon.30

A boss near the north door at Ugborough is beautifully carved with a sow and her farrow lying beneath an oak tree (Fig. 20). A sow and farrow boss (Fig. 21) at Braunton church, north Devon, has been linked with a legend of the foundation of that church by St Brannoc since at least the eighteenth century.31 This foundation legend has classical origins in Virgil’s Aeneid, and it is certainly possible that the sow bosses may indicate a sacred site as has been suggested by some writers.32 However, it is perhaps more likely that these bosses were interpreted in accordance with a bestiary description, which influenced medieval sermons, and where:

sows are those who neglect their penance and return to that which they once bewailed… Those who weep for sins they have admitted put forth the iniquity of their hearts, which were sated with evil that oppressed them inwardly. This they cast out in confession; but after confession, they begin again and take up their old ways. The sow that was washed and returns to her wallowing in the mire is filthier than before.33

Fig. 21: Roof boss of sow and farrow, St Brannock’s, Braunton, Devon, late fourteenth/early fifteenth century.

Fig. 20: Roof boss of sow and farrow, St Peter’s, Ugborough.

Two bosses of a sow and farrow are located in Exeter cathedral, one in the nave, and the other in the north choir aisle (Fig. 22) where William Browning lies buried. Another carving (Fig. 23), in the nave at Sampford Courtenay church, west Devon, has been sensitively repaired, probably during a restoration of the church c.1899.

Fig. 23: Roof boss of sow and farrow, St Andrew’s, Sampford Courtenay, Devon, fifteenth/early sixteenth century.

Fig. 22: Roof boss of sow and farrow, north choir aisle, Exeter cathedral, early fourteenth century.

There are three other figural bosses at Ugborough, two of male heads with headdresses, and one of a female head with headdress, whose iconography is less clear. All are positioned near the sow and farrow boss, possibly indicating a link, as yet unidentified.

Fig. 24: Roof boss of farrier, probably St Eligius, at St Peter’s, Ugborough.

A fine boss towards the west end of the north aisle at Ugborough, of a male figure forging a horse shoe (Fig. 24), is generally thought to represent St Eligius, also known as St Loye or St Eloy, patron saint of metalworkers, blacksmiths and farriers.

Eligius served as an apprentice to a goldsmith in seventh-century Gaul before eventually becoming master of the mint to the Frankish kings. Consecrated Bishop of Noyon, Eligius lived a devout life and is said to have performed many miracles. In one, to which the boss refers, Eligius shod a horse possessed by the devil. The animal was kicking wildly, so Eligius cut off its leg and quietly shod the hoof before making the sign of the cross and replacing the leg on the calmed creature. The boss thus emphasises that evil may be cast out, and the spirit healed, through Christ and the ministrations of his church.

Saint Eligius was venerated in Devon with blacksmiths and hay-carriers refusing to work on his feast day.34 An image of Eligius is said to have stood in Chagford church, Dartmoor, in the 1530s, where it has been suggested that it related to tinworking.35 This may also have been the case at Ugborough, since the first known record of the church’s possible pre-Reformation dedication occurs in the coinage rolls of September 1531, when tin was presented by St Michael ‘of Ugburgh’ for assay and assessment of tax at the stannary town of Plympton. This was just a single ingot, however, weighing 1 cwt 40 lbs, and on which 21¼d in duty was paid, so tinworking does not appear to have been a source of major investment for Ugborough church at that time.36

Fig. 25: Early fifteenth-century manuscript, with sketch of head. British Library Harleian Ms 3300 fol 296r, reproduced by kind permission of the British Library.

The bosses at Ugborough were made to be seen; many of the figural bosses, including those of human heads, the owl, and sow and farrow, may have acted as mnemonic devices, to remind parishioners of sins committed and to warn against their repetition. Interestingly, a thumbnail sketch of the head of William Browning survives in an early fifteenth-century manuscript in the British Library, which juxtaposes his image with ‘moral sayings… warning of the need to be honest and listing vices to be avoided’ (Fig. 25).37 The manuscript may have belonged to Browning, indeed the sketch may be in his own hand; at the least, it is likely that he knew of it and we may conjecture that he used it in much the same way as his parishioners used the bosses.

While interpretation of the motifs, and links with William Browning, are somewhat speculative since documentary evidence is fragmentary, there is no doubt that the bosses in the north aisle at Ugborough are of the highest order. In addition to their role as mnemonic devices, the carvings may also have served as aids to prayer in a wider and rich decorative scheme, of which little remains save a fine, though partially cut down, rood screen.38


Returning to the work of C. J. P. Cave, his achievement was truly remarkable. Working with heavy photographic equipment in the first half of the twentieth century, his dedication to his task ensured that we now have a record of many roof bosses no longer extant. I would echo Cave’s call for recording of more medieval bosses, especially oak bosses in parish churches and chapels. Having survived against the odds for some five to six hundred years, it would be a sin if we now fail to recognise and conserve these extraordinary carvings.


Since writing this article, the Heritage Lottery Fund has approved a grant for remedial work to the roof of the north aisle at Ugborough.


I would like to thank Dr Elizabeth Tingle and Dr David Lepine for their helpful comments on a draft of this article.


1. Charles John Philip Cave, Roof Bosses in Medieval Churches: An Aspect of Gothic Sculpture (Cambridge, 1948).
2. Cave, Roof Bosses, preface.
3. Susan Andrew, ‘Late medieval roof bosses in the churches of Devon’, (doctoral thesis, University of Plymouth, 2011). https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/529
4. Curiously, although C. J. P. Cave included information on Ugborough in an appendix to Roof Bosses in Medieval Churches, he did not include any images among the 367 published in this work.
5. Nicholas Orme, ‘English church dedications: Supplement No. 1’, Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, 38, part 10 (2001), 305–7 (p.307).
6. I would like to thank Dr Elizabeth Tingle for this information.
7. James Davidson, Church Notes on Devon, Volume 2, South Devon, 1840–1850, 653. Unpublished manuscript, Devon Heritage Centre.
8. Beatrix Cresswell, Notes on Devon Churches. The Fabric and Features of Interest in the Deanery of Plympton, 1922, 253. Unpublished typescript, Devon Heritage Centre. The chancel ceiling is now boarded.
9. Positions of all bosses are documented in my thesis with the exception of a carving of an owl with horned headdress, only recognised as being figural when an opportunity arose to examine the bosses from the tower scaffold in April 2014. This small boss is situated to the south east of the large boss of a female head with dogs.
10. Plymouth and West Devon Record Office (PWDRO) 884/73/10.
11. Near the west end, however, two oak bosses, which may have been moved from the south arcade, take the place of the corbels. Cherry and Pevsner suggest that the ceiling may have been reset, c.1800, from parts of a wagon roof (Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner (eds), The Buildings of England: Devon. 2nd edition (1991), 879), although medieval woodwork conservator Hugh Harrison regards this as being unlikely. He says: ‘there are no curved ribs and the straight pieces which could all be purlins are two different sizes, and I have never seen a roof with two different sized purlins. Also the carving of the bosses around the housings for the ribs fits the diagonal ribs… with small housings for the small ribs and large for the large ones, so… I don’t believe this woodwork ever formed part of a barrel vault, it all looks purpose made’ (Hugh Harrison, pers. comm., 2 December 2010).
12. PWDRO 884/308.
13. Lynne Humphries, St Peter’s Church, Ugborough. North Aisle Timber Ceiling and Bosses Condition Report (2014). On the conservation of oak roof bosses, see Lynne Humphries,‘In the footsteps of A. R. Powys. An unusual timber conservation case study’, BCD Special Report on Historic Churches, 16th annual edition, 18–21. www.visitchurches.org.uk/Assets/Conservationdocuments/IntheFootstepsofArPowysanunusualtimber.pdf?1291890237. Archived at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine here.
14. Cave, Roof Bosses, 213. The problems of attribution of medieval carvings to specific carvers are discussed in Andrew,‘Late medieval roof bosses’, 81–83.
15. Andrew,‘Late medieval roof bosses’, 119. Nicholas Orme, Cornwall and the Cross. Christianity 500–1560 (Chichester, 2007), 101.
16. No dendrochronological analysis has been carried out at Ugborough. I am grateful to Dr Elizabeth Tingle and Dr David Lepine for information on William Browning.
17. Lepine,‘William Browning: a fifteenth-century Canon of Exeter’, Friends of Exeter Cathedral, 61st Annual Report (1991), 17–20. Lepine notes that Browning’s will begins with an invocation to the patron saints of Exeter cathedral, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Peter and St Paul, and ‘to his personal patron saint St Michael’ (p. 19).
18. Lepine, ‘William Browning’, 17–20. Browning was appointed rector of Berrynarbor church in 1430 and remained so until his death in 1454. He bequeathed a set of altar vessels and money to the poor of his parish of Berrynarbor as he did to Ugborough.
19. The patron of the church, holding the advowson (the right to choose the rector or vicar for presentation to the bishop for institution), was Plympton priory.
20. Quinil’s statutes stipulated that the rector should maintain the fabric of the chancel, while lay parishioners should maintain the fabric of the nave.
21. David Lepine,‘William Browning’, 19.
22. Lady Raglan, ‘The Green Man in Church Architecture’, Folklore, Vol. 50, No.1 (1939), 45–57; Cave, Roof Bosses, 67–8. Raglan’s and Cave’s notions, that the ‘Green Man’ was a relic of pre-Christian tree-worship, were much influenced by Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. In 1991, Roy Judge noted that Raglan’s Green Man was, however,‘a case study in the “invention of tradition”’. (Roy Judge ‘The Green Man Revisited’ in J. Hutchings and J. Wood (eds), Colour and Appearance in Folklore (1991), 51.) The foliate head is discussed in some detail in Andrew,‘Late medieval roof bosses’, 174–191.
23. The head was also believed to be the seat of soul, which would leave the body after death through the open mouth.
24. Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Parson’s Tale’, in Larry D. Benson (ed.), The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd edition (Oxford, 1988), 289.
25. Epistle of St James the Apostle, iii. 5–10, Douay Rheims Bible (2006), 1604.
26. [Unnamed author]. All Saints East Budleigh. A Guide to the Church (1991), 20.
27. Richard Barber, Bestiary. Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library Oxford MS Bodley 764 (1992), 148–9.
28. G. R. Owst, Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England (Oxford, 1961), 399–400.
29. Aberdeen University Library MS 24. www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/translat/19v.hti.
30. Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, Book IV, line 434, in Benson (ed.), The Riverside Chaucer, 544. Sermon information from Malcolm Jones, pers. comm. 24 May 2011. The sermon may be found in W. Ross, Middle English Sermons, Edited from British Museum MS Royal 18 B. xxiii, EETS 209 (1940), 166.
31. Andrew,‘Late medieval roof bosses’, 222. The bosses at Braunton may be dated by association with the roof timbers, which were felled between 1388 and 1413 and probably used shortly afterwards (Ian Tyers, Tree Ring Analysis of Oak Timbers from St Brannock Church, Braunton, Devon. English Heritage Centre for Archaeology Report 81/2004 (2004), 3–4).
32. See Andrew,‘Late medieval roof bosses’, 222–3.
33. Barber, Bestiary, 84–5.
34. Robert Whiting, The Blind Devotion of the People (Cambridge, 1991), 72.
35. Richard Marks, Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England (Stroud, 2004), 105.
36. I am grateful to Dr Tom Greeves for this information (Tom Greeves, pers. comm., 4 August 2014).
37. Lepine,‘William Browning’, 18. David Lepine informed me that the manuscript ‘is a late fourteenth-century/early fifteenth-century Exeter formulary – a collection of model documents for a diocesan administrator – that passed through several Exeter hands, probably coming to Browning through [Canon] Richard Tyttesbury and in turn being passed on to other Exeter canons including William Sylke. Both the paleography and the verses are obscure, even to the professor of paleography that I consulted in 1991’ (David Lepine, pers. comm., 23 August 2014).
38. These arguments are made more fully in Chapter five of my thesis.

Other writings by Dr Sue Andrew