In the North Transept of Wells Cathedral there is a series of carvings, on each of the four sides of a pillar forming a kind of strip cartoon and popularly known as ‘The Fruit Stealer’. The carvings date from about 1200.
The fruits were always thought to be apples, but more recently it has been suggested that they are grapes. The basket of fruit could be small apples although the pendulous branch above looks more like grapes. But then they used that particular formalised vine a lot in stiff leaf carving? I am not absolutely sure that the new certainty is justified. I would be very interested to hear other people’s views?
The photographs here are of plaster casts which are in Wells Museum and made for the Great Exhibition 1851. The actual capitals are high up in the North Transept and very tricky to photograph.
Above: Scene one – a man and boy steal fruit.
Scene two- a man approaches the Farmer (in hat) and indicates that the fruit is being stolen.
Scene three: the farmer grabs the thief by the ear.
Scene four: in a splendidly medieval manner he thumps him on the head with a thick stick. A lesson to all.
Philippa Threlfall has based her design of a terracotta plaque – ‘Skills & Pains Bring Fruitful Gains’ around this series of carvings. (J. M.)