- Place of origin:
King's Lynn (made)
ca. 1419 (made)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Credit Line:
Given by the Architectural Association and the Royal Architectural Museum
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Medieval and Renaissance, Room 10c, case WW
The wooden furniture and fittings of medieval English churches were frequently decorated with carvings of sacred and secular subjects taken from religious and folkloric traditions. The cockatrice was a fabulous and heraldic monster with the wings of a fowl, tail of a dragon and head of a cock. Figuratively, cockatrice is used to mean 'an insidious, treacherous person bent on mischief' (Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable).
Portion of a bench-end, with a moulded fore-edge and mortice. Integral to the structure of the bench-end is a carved cockatrice forming the elbow rest, with the head of a hen, with scaly breast and large wings and elongated claws extending down the front outside face of the bench-end.
Place of Origin
King's Lynn (made)
ca. 1419 (made)
Materials and Techniques
Height: 55.7 cm, Width: 16.8 cm, Depth: 6.5 cm, Weight: 2.12 kg
Object history note
One of a group of pieces, mostly fragmentary from the chancel and nave of St. Nicholas Chapel, King's Lynn.
Given by the Architectural Association and the Royal Architectural Museum, 18 Tufton Street. See RF 1915/4020
'To be labelled "From the Royal Architectural Museum, Westminster. Presented by the Architectural Museum"
Historical context note
The Chapel of St. Nicholas, King's Lynn was founded by William Turbe, Bishop of Norwich, 1146-74, for the use of the inhabitants of the New Lande he had laid out for building north of the Purfleet. His chapel was pulled down and on its site was built a small chapel, the west end of which, probably dating from 1200-1210 remains. The present building was constructed in the early years of the fifteenth century and completed about 1419. Woodwork from St Nicholas, evidently part of the original fitted wooden furnishings, were sold by the churchwardens in 1852 and bought by the Royal Architectural Museum.
Fragment of a bench-end with a cockatrice
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Charles Tracy, English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork (London, 1988), cat. no.162
'Stall or Bench-Ends, one of twenty-six, mostly fragmentary. From the chancel and nave of St Nicholas Chapel, King's Lynn. About 1419. Mus. Nos. W.2-1916 to W.11-1916; Mus. Nos. W.14, W.16 to W.18, W.20; W.56 to W.60-1921; Mus. Nos. Circ.26, Circ.36 to 39, Circ.41-1921.
For the history of these carvings, see the misericords from St Nicholas, King’s Lynn (Mus. Nos. W.6-1921, W.9-1921, W. 10-1921, W.11-1921, W. 12-1921, W54-1921). Some of the fragments are recorded in the catalogue of the Royal Architectural Museum, Westminster, published in 1877
One of five portions of stall ends, (W.5-1916, W7-1916, W.8-1916, W9-1916, W.4-1916, W.10-1916) forming elbow-rests. From St Nicholas Chapel, King’s Lynn. A cockatrice (PL. 59).
Oak. About 1419
Presented by the Architectural Association
56 X 16.5 cm
Mus. No. W.7-1916
See Catalogue of the Royal Architectural Museum, 1877, 52, No. 756. The gouging technique required for indicating the white speckles of this cockatrice was favoured by the Kings Lynn sculptor. It can be seen on other ﬁgures in the museum’s collection from the church (W.10-1921, W59-1921, W.60-1921). A comparable cockatrice can be seen on a bench-end at Stonham Aspall (FIG. 38) and on a misericord at Stowlangtoft, Suffolk. The treatment of the wings is similar to that on the buttress ﬁgure on Mus. No. W. 9-1916 (cat. no. 164).'
Charles Tracy, 'The former nave and choir oak furnishings and the west end and south porch doors, at the Chapel of St. Nicholas, King's Lynn', in King's Lynn and the Fens Medieval Art and Archaeology, BAA King's Lynn Conference Transactions XXXI (Leeds, 2008), pp. 28-52
Furniture; Christianity; Myths & Legends
Furniture and Woodwork Collection