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The 12th-century font at Stone, Buckinghamshire


Originally at Hampstead Norreys in Berkshire, the font - after some years as a garden trough - was installed at Stone in 1847. Excellent pictures of the font can be seen at the Romanesque Sculpture site.


The carvings on the font


Many, including Pevsner, have been puzzled by the apparent dichotomy of the two styles of carving on either side of this font. Webb explains that the sculptures on the two sides of the font have to be considered not separately, but as a whole. Together, they depict God’s Creation and Salvation of the World. The holistic vision was expounded in the 12th century by Hugh of Saint-Victor (1096–1141) in De Sacramentis Christianae Fidei. This is evidently the first “summa”, or attempt to write a comprehensive view of all that exists.


In many surviving 12th-century sculptures we find geometric designs (carved for their deep meaning) or pictorial carvings (illustrating the Salvation of the World, as explained in the ancient Alexandrian Ransom theory). Here we find depicted both the Creation and the Salvation of the World. This font is therefore a very rare and precious “summa” of 12th-century church dogma. 

An explanation of the geometric carvings will follow.

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