Adventures in Romanesque Sculpture: exploring the twelfth-century stonecarving of Devon and Cornwall.
n illustrated talk by Dr. Alex Woodcock on Thursday, 1st December, 2022 at 7pm in The Devon Rural Archive.

Some English counties are famous for their Romanesque (11th –12th century) sculpture: Devon and Cornwall, traditionally, are not among them. Typically found as architectural sculpture decorating doorways, windows and other features of old churches its characteristic style, sometimes described as primitive or even barbaric by critics, has tended to divide opinion. In his book King of Dust Alex Woodcock, a long-term admirer of the southwest’s Romanesque carving, set out to explore both the work itself as well as the transformative effect it has had on his life: Romanesque sculpture, particularly that of Devon, was what led him to pick up tools, learn stonemasonry and eventually work at Exeter Cathedral. In this talk he will introduce the Romanesque sculpture of the southwest, consider why it should be held in greater regard than it is, and look at how it has inspired artists, archaeologists and writers.

Dr. Alex Woodcock is an award-winning writer, former cathedral stonemason, artist and tutor. His books include Gargoyles and Grotesques (2011), Of Sirens and Centaurs (2013) and King of Dust (2019). He wrote his PhD at the University of Southampton on medieval sculpture and later became a stonemason, working at Exeter Cathedral for six years and contributing work to its famous west front. He leads the module on the architecture and archaeology of buildings for the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship, a degree course that provides training for cathedral craftspeople, and in recent years has developed as an artist, selling work inspired by Romanesque and Gothic buildings.

Picture above: detail of carving above the doorway at the church of St Michael at Shebbear in North Devon. 

Alex will be bringing copies of his book, King of Dust, to sell as well as cards and prints (cash only). For more information please visit his website: 

Tickets are £5 each, and must be purchased in advance.  

A Season Ticket to attend all 11 lectures in our 2022 programme is also available in our online shop.  
Please note that payments are non-refundable. 

Doors open at 6:30pm for complimentary refreshments and a chance to explore the Archive.

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Where we are

Devon Rural Archive, Shilstone, Modbury, Devon, PL21 0TW

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