The Antelope Gorged and Chained

This carving shows a heraldic beast, the Antelope Gorged and Chained. Gorged means that it has a ‘gorget’ or ducal crown as a collar around its neck, attached to a chain. It may represent one of the royal beasts kept in the Tower of London. This beast was the ‘sinister’, or left-hand, supporter of the coats of arms of the Lancastrian kings Henry IV and Henry V. Their successor Henry VI chose it as both his supporters, ‘two heraldic antelopes Argent, armed and tufted Or’. Henry VI ruled from 1422 to 1461, over the period when this misericord was carved.

The Green Men on either side of the king's badge are a much more ancient symbol, possibly dating back to pre-Christian times, although they had been incorporated into the Christian Rogationtide festivals which included ‘beating the bounds’ and blessing the crops to ensure good harvests. The Green Man is a symbol of the annual cycle of death and regrowth, so was also a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus and of his victory over death — hence the battle between the Green Man and the Ice Queen which takes place every May Day at Clun.

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