WARNING: Some of the pictures of Medieval carvings in this report are very graphic.
FOR years it was hidden among the rafters, unseen by the congregation… but now a picture of a VERY naughty carving in a Hereford church has gone viral.
First appearing on social media site Reddit, the lewd carving of a man holding up his legs and exposing his genitalia became one of the sites most popular posts and has now been shared by thousands of people across platforms including Twitter and Facebook, and the picture of it (and claims as to its history) has even been ‘fact checked’ by misinformation-busting site, Snopes.
The carving first became visible to the public in the late 1990s, when food writer and restaurateur Bill Sewell opened his popular cafe at All Saints, with a seating gallery built over the cafe’s kitchen.
Nicknamed Seamus O’Toole, the figure soon divided opinion, with the Birmingham Mail reporting in 1998 that one enterprising vicar, Father Andrew Mottram, suggested monetising the figure by selling postcards featuring its image.
His suggestion was quickly slapped down by the parochial church council, the Mail reported.
The figure, likely carved in the 15th century, perhaps by a disgruntled carpenter, remains visible to customers at the cafe to this day, lit up by a spotlight, although many may be unaware of its presence, just six feet above their heads.
Staff at the cafe, who have known about the figure for years, said they were surprised – but very pleased – to have suddenly gained internet fame.
And it is far from the only lewd carving found in a Herefordshire church.
Tucked away in Kilpeck’s beautiful church, among the ornately carved corbels, is a carving of a sheela na gig – a grotesque image of a woman exposing her genitals to the world.
The 12th century carving is thought to be one of the best examples in Britain, although they are found in churches throughout Europe.