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July 08, 2004

The Tinners' Rabbits

I saw the Tinners' Rabbits at Widecombe-in-the-Moor on a trip to Dartmoor. Widecombe is not alone in choosing hare decor.

The first known literary reference is from A Survey of the Cathedral of St Davids published in 1717 by Browne Willis. It says: "In one key stone near the west end are three rabbits plac'd triangularly, with the backsides of their heads turn'd inwards, and so contriv'd that the three ears supply the place of six so that every head seems to have its full quota of ears. This is constantly shewn to strangers as a curiosity worth regarding."

It turns out the three hares motif is more widespread than I had imagined.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 8, 2004 08:27 AM

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This may be the single most interesting weblog post I've ever seen. Worth obsessing on.

Posted by: alan at July 8, 2004 03:30 PM

I found it most curious. It is only thanks to the Rough Guide I knew to look for the bunnies when I visited the church.

Posted by: Flea at July 8, 2004 08:24 PM

I only wish I had known to look for them at Chester Cathedral when I was there!

Posted by: Flea at July 8, 2004 08:24 PM

Is there a clear geographic division in the UK between where they are and are not found?

Posted by: alan at July 9, 2004 09:22 AM

My impression is that the majority of these figures are to be found in Cornwall.

Posted by: Flea at July 9, 2004 12:48 PM

Interesting. The last bastion of Celtic culture in England.

Posted by: alan at July 9, 2004 10:54 PM