The Little Vandal: The Lincoln Imp

Churches are well accustomed to being knocked about here in the UK. Look at Henry VIII, trashing all the gorgeous places of worship which belonged to the monasteries; or Oliver Cromwell, who ordered all graven images smashed, as they remain to this day.

I can think of few old churches which do not retain the scars of English history. But there is one cathedral – Lincoln – which bears one of the strangest signs of all that it was once, reputedly, defaced.

The vandal in question is said not even to have been human. No: Satan sent one of his very own imps to charge the cathedral doors and sprint down to the Angel Choir, a gorgeous structure to house the  singers during services.

The imp created havoc. He was breaking off bits of the choir and throwing them at the people below, and it simply would not do.

This was an opinion shared by The Almighty, who could not have his cathedral shown up as defenceless by a minion from the opposite side.

So he sent a brawny angel with a repertoire of fabulous powers.

The imp led the angel a dance. Up pillars, down sheer walls, dancing on the faces of the masonry and woodwork.

Finally, the angel had had enough. He was not an angel who liked games of chase. And so he raised his magic brawny angel staff and shook it furiously at the little imp who had got so far under his skin.

The creature had just reached the top of a pillar beneath a sea of fronds of stone. And there, in the crook of an arch, Satan’s smallest minion was turned, mid-mischief, to stone.

Needless to say, it took a very long time to clear the havoc caused by the little imp; and he still sits there, at the top of the pillar, daring the angel one two many times.

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He is not the only face up there. Lincoln has some rather wonderful mediaeval faces, many of which I met today.

A few for your perusal.

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9 thoughts on “The Little Vandal: The Lincoln Imp

  1. He is quite a cute-looking little creature, not so?
    The others are less comely. A bit go-ly, actually.
    One really comes to ‘ate ‘Enery the hateth and Ollie Crumbadly alike.

    1. One does: but that kind of vandalism is part of our history. Every empty alcove tells a story. And then there was the 19th century, where they ‘modernised’ by pulling down priceless tudor places and replaced them with pompous Victorian piles!

      1. Now, of course, the drive continues to remove the Victorian show-off pieces and replace them with nice, respectable, uniform, incredibly unpretentious estate houses …

  2. They are just wonderful, Kate. I have only seen them in photos and I wonder if I would find them a little foreboding if I were to actually stare at them and find them staring back. Like so many pieces of history it’s hard to swallow that so many “graven images” were destroyed, but that some remain intact as they were hundreds of years ago is a thrill. I’m delighted you had the opportunity to visit them. Quite special!

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