Exeter Cathedral Keystones & Carvings: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Medieval Interior Sculptures & their Polychromy was many years in the making by its co-authors Avril Kay Henry (AKH) and Anna Carlton Hulbert (ACH). The work, which began in 1976, consisted both of ACH’s conservation of the objects, and of the authors’ joint exploration of the objects’ nature and significance. ACH’s extensive travels in the course of her career as a renowned conservationist allowed the co-authors to meet only on rare occasions.

Over the years, AKH's work was supported by research grants from the University of Exeter totalling £6500.

Publication of the material as a website was made possible only by the Leverhulme Trust's award to AKH in March 2000 of an Emeritus Fellowship for this specific purpose, to run from August that year. ACH died on 10 April 2000 after a typically courageous four-year battle against cancer; she lived just long enough to rejoice in the imaginative and indispensable support of the Leverhulme Trust.

The web-site would never have seen the light of day without encouragement and practical support from the Devon and Cornwall Technology Transfer Network. DCTTN's Dr Dave Edmondson (now at Kingston University), a wonderful "enabler", crucially understood the business and technological difficulties so long encountered on this project, and provided what arts academics inevitably need: advice on production of a full Specification, business acumen, experience of contracts, relevant contacts, including Tell Communications. Dr. Edmondson continued to provide advice, out of interest in the project, even after he moved to the University of Kingston.

A great debt is due also to this website's designers, Tell Communications of Plymouth ( for their instant grasp of the complex design issues involved, their multiple skills, their professionalism and their patience. Tell Communications succeeded, in spite of heavy demands made upon them by their client, in constructing a complex web-site that is both clear and elegant. They followed Specification admirably, and maintained steady courtesy and consideration even when faced with alterations, omissions and errors in the daily provision of material. They tolerated AKH's struggle to recover all the information lost with her late co-author, her impatience with the limitations of html, her inconvenient use of out-of-date computer applications, and her rooted aversion to the A38 to Plymouth.

Subsequent publication and site maintenance by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) is funded by both The Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) and The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).1 One of VADS's functions is to make British art-historical archives freely available on-line. VADS's undertaking the long-term and expensive task of site maintenance is much appreciated.

The building-based research relied in many varied ways on the Cathedral clergy and work-staff. The previous Dean, the late Dr Clifford Chapman, and the Chapter of 1976 instigated the conservation project which was the genesis of the co-authored work, in which the Dean and Chapter and their Surveyors showed continued interest. The former Foreman Mason Mr Peter Dare shared his wide knowledge of the fabric and its stone, while the late Mr Ernest Huxtable recalled much otherwise unrecorded information about postwar repairs, and Mr William Darch remembered a great deal about restoration of the western part of the Nave in the early 1970s. Thanks are also due to members of ACH's conservation team—a changing group, too large to list by name, that occasionally included at its edges some of AKH’s students.

Design of the plan of the Cathedral which acts as the reader's basic guide to the bosses and corbels (but not to the other objects in the catalogue, except insofar as the plan enables their rough location to be identified) has been a model of happy interdisciplinary cooperation. The authors supplied the basic requirements and form of the plan and the numbering (based on that of Prideaux and Shafto). Several perceptual problems were solved in creating this diagram: it is no easy task to indicate on a two-dimensional drawing the logical relationship between a ground plan, a vault and its supporting features. For the graphic design of this information we are indebted to Dr Anthony Clayden, then Head of the Department of Graphic Design at the Exeter College of Art and Design, for his generous giving of time and skill. We relied heavily on assistance from two programmers in University Information Technology Services who digitised the Plan so that we could assess and improve its visual effect on repeated printouts: Ms Helen Blackman and Mr Lee Davis. Mr Neil Brooks, then Computer Development Officer in Information Technology Services, provided as usual the patient and skilled assistance upon which AKH has for many years come to depend. Her colleague in the Department of Physics, Dr Charles Williams, also gave his time generously when the map had to be translated (not for the last time) to a more modern graphics format than the original GINO.

Over the years, staff of the University of Exeter Photographic Unit, Mr Don Lashmar, then Mr Anthony Fisher assisted by Mr Colin Bailey, braved the scaffolds of the high vault and the mobile towers of the low.

Help with paint analysis has been received from Ms Josephine Darrah at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Ms Gillian Lewis and Ms S. Wakelin at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; Mrs Plahter at Oslo University, and Dr Ashok Roy at the National Gallery, London.

The Devon and Cornwall Record Society and Mrs Audrey Erskine generously allowed us to quote from her edition of the Fabric Rolls, which formed a constant source of reference. Mrs Erskine shared her unrivalled knowledge of the Rolls even before their publication.

We have valued the stimulus and assistance of discussion with many scholars: among them Dr Ralegh Radford, Dr Mary Remnant, Dr Charles Tracey, Dr Jean Givens. Mr Hugh Harrison, of Herbert Read Ltd., Exeter, repeatedly brought his deep knowledge of the construction of medieval objects in both wood and stone to specific problems, interrupting his work to climb up scaffolds and crawl over vaults with us. Dr Nigel Morgan, while Director of the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University, helped with the identification of boss 159.

The factual errors remaining in this resource are entirely the responsibility of AKH, who would be very grateful for notice of them and for any other feedback from users (to ).


We are grateful to several authors, publishers and institutions for permission to use their material. Photographs by F. H. Crossley (copyright Canon Maurice Ridgway) and C. P. J. Cave have been obtained from the Conway Library, Courtauld Institute of Art and from the National Monuments Record respectively, with permission from copyright holders or the managers of relevant estates. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit allowed us to use their splendid photographs of carvings in the Nave and South Tower. The University of Exeter holds the copyright on all original images made for the authors for this project. All other photographic images’ copyright is held by ACH’s Estate or, in a few cases, by AKH. Copyright vested in the holders named above is claimed in electronic watermarks on each image; every effort has been made to avoid errors of copyright attribution, but any discovered should be notified to AKH or to VADS (

NMR (C. J. P. Cave photographs)

Bosses 30, 93A, 140, 141, 157, 157A, 159, 160, 163, 167, 167A, 169, 171, 171A, 225, 226, 231, 233, 234, 235, 238, 239, 242, 243, 246, 246A,248, 249, 251A, 268, the bombed corbels in the Bishop's Muniment Room, and corbels H' and P.

Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit

Bosses 203-222 inclusive, corbel T', the South Tower window capitals and window shaft corbels, and the eight corbels of the South Tower balconies.

Canon Maurice Ridgway:

Photographs by F. H. Crossley, courtesy of Conway Library,

Courtauld Institute, copyright Canon Maurice Ridgway.

Choir and Presbytery corbels A'-F' and A-G; Nave corbels J', J, N'-P', L-O; boss 158.

The University of Exeter

The Lady Chapel, all the Cathedral's side-chapels and the Song School; all the aisles; all the vaulting shaft capitals; all triforium heads except those in the Presbytery and bay G-H; the West Front porches; bosses 67, 72, 104, 117-121, 196-197, 173-202, 223-24, 226A, 227-30, 231A, 232, 236A-237, 240-241A, 244-45, 247, 250-251, 252, 252A, 255, 261, 262A-267, 268A, 269-275, 355, 369; corbels G', H, and those in the North Tower.

Chatto & Windus granted permission for the use of the original vault diagram in Prideaux and Shafto as the basis for our own. Mr Sean Goddard kindly allowed us to access to his unique colour prints of bosses 235 and 242 taken during the 1975 repainting.

All other copyright in respect of this publication, Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings, is vested in AKH (, as is copyright of all the diagrams.  


AKH: Avril Kay Henry, ATD, NDD, BA, D.Phil (Oxon) trained in painting and sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art, obtained ATD with Distinction at the University of London Institute of Education, and after working as an art teacher and freelance illustrator went up as a mature student to St Hugh's College, Oxford, where she was subsequently awarded a Fulford Senior Scholarship. Part-time medieval tutorships at Oxford and Cambridge, and full-time posts at Homerton College, Cambridge, and Queen Mary College, University of London, were followed by appointment at the University of Exeter in 1970, where she was Professor of English Medieval Culture in the School of English, holding a Personal Chair 1995-2000, the last two years on a research-only part-time contract. Her research has been mainly manuscript-based, bridging medieval literature and art, with a special interests in medieval Christian iconography and the complex interface of text and image.

Her publications include:

The Pilgrimage of the Lyfe of the Manhode: A Critical Edition of the Middle English Prose Translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's Pèlerinage de la vie humaine. Vol. I (Books 1-4 Text, Variants and Introduction). Early English Text Society, Original Series 288. London: Oxford UP, 1985. xcvi, 356 pp. ISBN 0197222900

The Mirour of Mans Saluacioune: A Middle English Translation of Speculum Humanae Salvationis: A Critical Edition of the Fifteenth-Century Manuscript illustrated from Der Spiegel der menschen Behältnis, Speier, Drach, c. 1475. London: Scolar Press, 1986; Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. 347pp. ISBN 0859677168

Biblia Pauperum: A Facsimile Edition [of the Forty-Page Blockbook]. London: Scolar, 1987; Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987. 178 pp. [Facsimile and introduction, transcription of the Latin, translation, commentary, notes and bibliography] ISBN 0859675424.

The Pilgrimage of the Lyfe of the Manhode: A Critical Edition of the Middle English Prose Translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's Pèlerinage de la vie humaine. Vol. II (Notes, Glossary, Bibliography) Early English Text Society, Original Series 292. London: Oxford UP, 1988. pp. 348-615. ISBN 0197222943

The Eton Roundels: Eton College MS 177 “Figurae Bibliorum”. Aldershot and Brookfield, Vermont: Scolar-Gower, 1990. [A full-colour facsimile, with a transcription of the Latin, translation, commentary, notes and bibliography]. ISBN 0859677567

De Quatuordecim partibus beatitudinis (The Fourteen Parts of Blessedness) Chapter 5 of Dicta Anselmi by Alexander of Canterbury, with Anselmian interpolations: The Latin, Middle English (`The Joys of Paradise') and Anglo-Norman versions in MS. Lichfield Cathedral Library 16, ff. 190r-247v. Ed. Avril Henry and D. A. Trotter. Medium Aevum Monographs, New Series, 17. Oxford: The Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1994. pp. x,161. ISBN 0907570100

 “‘The Pater Noster in a Table Ypeynted’ and Some Other Presentations of Doctrine in the Vernon Manuscript.” Studies in the Vernon Manuscript. Ed. Derek Pearsall. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1990. 89-113. ISBN 0859913104

 “The Iconography of the Forty-page Blockbook Biblia pauperum: Form and Meaning.” Blockbücher des Mittelalters: Bilderfolgen als Lektüre. [Catalogue of Blockbook Exhibition, Gutenberg Museum 22 June-1 September 1991.] Ed. Gutenberg-Gesellschaft and Gutenberg-Museum. Mainz: Gutenberg-Museum, 1991. 263-88. ISBN 3922442285

 “The West Front III: The Iconography of the West Front.” Medieval Art and Architecture at Exeter Cathedral. Ed. Francis Kelly. The British Archaeological Association Transactions for the Year 1985. London: BAA, 1991. 134-46. ISBN 0901286273 (hbk) 0901286265 (pbk)

“The Castle of Perseverance: Coveytyse copbord Again.” Satura: Studies in Medieval Literature in Honour of Robert Raymo. Ed. Ruth Sternglantz and Nancy Reale. Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1998. 275-292. ISBN 1900289121

“Biblia Pauperum: Schreiber Editions I and VIII Reconsidered,” Oud Holland 95.3 (1981): 127-50.

“Biblia Pauperum: the Forty-Page Blockbook and The Hague, Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, MS. 10.A.15.” Scriptorium 38.1 (1984): 31-41.

“The Woodcuts of Der Spiegel menschlicher Behältnis (Speculum Humanae Salvationis) in the Editions Printed by Drach and Richel.” Oud Holland 99.1 (1985): 1-15.

“The Pilgrimage of the Lyfe of the Manhode: The Structure of Book l.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 87.1 (1986): 128-41.

“The Pilgrimage of the Lyfe of the Manhode: The Large Design, with Special Reference to Books 2-4,” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 87.2 (1986): 229-36.

“The Iconography of the Forty-page Blockbook Biblia Pauperum: Form and Meaning,” Blockbücher des Mittelalters: Bilderfolgen als Lektüre Mainz: Gutenberg-Museum, 1991). 263-88. ISBN 3805312571.

“Lichfield Cathedral MS 16: Its Illuminated Borders and Original Order”, Scriptorium 48.1 (1994): 39-61 and Pls xxvii- xxxii.

“The Dramatic Function of Rhyme and Stanza Patterns in The Castle of Perseverance.” Individuality and Achievement in Middle English Poetry. Ed. Oliver Pickering. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1997. 147-83. ISBN: 0859914240.

 “Acht spätmittelalterliche Glasmalereien aus Köln in der Marienkapelle der Kathedral von Exeter.” Kölner Domblatt, Jahrbuch des Zentral-Dombau-Vereins 62 (1997): 207:244. ISBN 3922442285

“The Castle of Perseverance: Coveytyse copbord Again.” Satura: Studies in Medieval Literature in Honour of Robert Raymo. Ed. Ruth Sternglantz and Nancy Reale. Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1998. 275-292. ISBN 1900289121

“Daring Conflation? A Difficult Image in the Genesis Sequence of The Eton Roundels (Eton College MS 177, f. 2r).” Image and Belief: Studies in Celebration of the Eightieth Anniversary of the Index of Christian Art. Ed. Colum Hourihane. Department of Art and Archaeology Princeton University in association with Princeton University Press, 1999. 169-204. ISBN 0691010021, 069101003X.

“Silver and Salvation: A Late 15th-Century Confessor’s Itinerary Throughout the Parish of Bere Ferrers, Devon, England (Exeter Dean & Chapter MS 3522).” Transactions of the Devonshire Association. Forthcoming 2001

ACH: Anna Carson Hulbert took her BA in the History of Art at London's Courtauld Institute of Art, and underwent conservation training there. Known internationally as a conservator, she ran her own conservation business (particularly in relation to medieval objects) for 21 years, working on site. Commissions included such major undertakings as conservation of the sculptures of Exeter Cathedral's main vault, on which she worked from 1976-1982, and of the great Jesse Tree of 1391 painted on the wooden ceiling of St Helen's Church, Abingdon. From 1976 right up to the month before ACH’s untimely death on 10 April 2000, the authors worked together on Exeter Cathedral Keystones & Carvings whenever their joint circumstances permitted.

ACH’s publications include:

“The Mediaeval Paint in the Nave.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Forty-sixth Annual Report (to 31 March 1976) (1976): 20-21.

“The Polychromed Bosses of the Nave.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Forty-eighth Annual Report (to 31 March 1978) (1978): 17-20.

“An Acrylic Resin Consolidant for Polychromed Stone.” Conservation News 11 (March, 1980): 7.

“Colour on the Bosses and Corbels.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Fiftieth Annual Report (to 31 March 1980) (1980): 20-22.

“Formstar Resin: Exeter Cathedral Polychrom[y] Conservation.” Conservation News 12 (July, 1980): 11.

“Recent Discoveries in the Transepts.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Fifty-second Annual Report (to 31 March 1982) (1982): 10-13.

“More Paintings and Polychromy in The Cathedral.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Fifty-sixth Annual Report (to 31 March 1986) (1986): 18-21.

“The Lost Colour of the Cathedral.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Fifty-eighth Annual Report (to 31 March 1988) (1988): 10-11.

“The Mystery Knight.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Fifty-eighth Annual Report (to 31 March 1988) (1988): 11-12.

“Decoding a Few of the Cathedral's Sermons.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Fifty-ninth Annual Report (to 31 March 1989) (1989): 16-18.

“Medieval Paintings and Polychromy.” Exeter Cathedral: A Celebration. Ed. M. Swanton. Exeter: n.p.: printed for the Dean and Chapter, 1991. 90-97.

“An Examination of the Polychromy of Exeter Cathedral Roof Bosses and Its Documentation.” Medieval Art and Architecture at Exeter Cathedral. Ed. Francis Kelly. British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, 11 (for 1985). Oxford: Oxbow Books for the BAA, 1991. 188-98.

“The Sylke Chantry.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Sixty-first Annual Report (to 31 March 1991) (1991): 12-17.

“The Recovery of the Jesse Tree Sequence of Panels in St Helen's, Abingdon and Workshop Notes on St Mary's Church, Hennock, Devon: the possible site of a confessional or shriving pew adjacent to the rood screen; St Andrew's Church, Hacconby, Lincs.: Pulpit; Three images of the Virgin and Child lit by lamps: St James' Church, Great Ellingham, Norfolk, St Andrew's Church, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, and St John the Baptist's Church, Wickhamford, Worcestershire.” [The last subtitle accidentally unprinted].” The Conservator as Art Historian: Papers Given at a UKIC Wall Paintings Section Conference on 20 June 1992 at Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Ed. A. C. Hulbert, J. Marsden and V. Todd. London: United Kingdom Institute for Conservation, 1992. 19-22.

 “New Discoveries.” The Conservator as Art Historian: Papers Given at a UKIC Wall Paintings Section Conference on 20 June 1992 at Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Ed. A. C. Hulbert, J. Marsden and V. Todd. London: United Kingdom Institute for Conservation, 1992. 33-34.

 “Pigeons' Nests and Oysters for Lunch: The Adventures of St John the Evangelist's Screen.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Sixty-third Annual Report (to 31 March 1993) (1993): pp. 12-15.

“St Mary's Church, Astbury, Cheshire: Wall Painting of St George.” Conservation News 50 (1993): 47.

“Rediscovering the Angels: Current Conservation Work on the Wall Painting of the Assumption of the Virgin.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Sixty-fourth Annual Report (to 31 March 1994) (1994): 23-28.

“New Discoveries: St Margaret's Church, Chippenham, Cambridgeshire; St Mary's Church, Great Snoring, Norfolk; St Nicholas' Church, Baulking, Berkshire; The Priory Church...Cartmel...The Canopy of the Harrington tomb; Holy Trinity, Coventry: the Doom Awaiting Rediscovery.” The Conservator as Art Historian: Papers given at a UKIC Wall paintings section conference on 20 June 1992 at Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Ed A. Hulbert, J. Marsden & V. Todd. London: United Kingdom Institute for Conservation, 1992. 33-34; with footnote in Conservation News 53 (1994).

“Painted Ceilings and Screens.” Treasures on Earth: A Good Housekeeping Guide to Churches and Their Contents. Ed. P. Burman. London: Donhead, 1994, 34-48.

“A Useful Method of Cleaning Soda-Damaged Mediaeval Panels.” The Picture Restorer 5 (1994): 8-10.

“Feather Dusters in the Fourteenth Century.” Conservation News 55 (1994): 38.

“Haystacks and Horse-collars: A Tribute to the Cathedral's Forgotten Labourers.” Friends of Exeter Cathedral Sixty-seventh Annual Report (1997). (1997): 14-18, 24.

“Conservation of the Fourteenth-Century Ceiling at Saint Helen's Church, Abingdon.” Painted Wood: History and Conservation: Proceedings of a Symposium Organised by the Wooden Artifacts Group of the American Institute for Conservation and the Foundation of the AIC, Held at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia, 11-14 November 1994. Ed. V. Dorge and F. C. Howlett. Los Angeles, The Getty Conservation Institute, 1998. 287-300.

“English Fourteenth-Century Interior Polychromy: Manuscript Sources and Workshop Practice at Exeter Cathedral.” Contributions to the Dublin Congress 7-11 September 1998: Painting Techniques: History, Materials and Studio Practice. Ed. A. Roy and P. Smith. London: International Institute for Conservation and Artistic Works, 1998. 35-39.

“Clare Island Cistercian Abbey: Comment”. Art-historical appendix to R. E. M. Hedges, P. B. Pettitt, C. Bronk Ramsey & G. J. van Klinken: “Radiocarbon Dates from the Oxford AMS System”, Archaeometry Datelist, 25. Archaeometry 40. 1 (1998): 237.

“Sister Joanna Reitlinger and the Egg Rationing Following World War II.” Icon Conservation in Europe. Ed. N. Jolkkonen, A. Martiskainen, P. Martiskainen, H. Nikkanen. Uusi-Valamo: Valamo Art Conservation Institute, 1999. 124-135.

Ballantyne, A., and A. C. Hulbert. “19th- and Early 20th-Century Restorations of English Mediaeval Wall Paintings: Problems and Solutions.” Peintures Murales: Journées d'études de la S. F. I. I. C.: Conference, Dijon, 25-27 mars 1993. Ed. M. Stefanaggi. Champs-sur-Marne: Section Français I. I. C., 1993. 143-51.

Plummer, P., and A. C. Hulbert, “English Polychromed Church Screens and the Problems of Their Conservation in situ.” Preprints of the Contributions to the Brussels Congress, 3-7 September 1990: Cleaning Retouching and Coatings: Technology and Practice for Easel Paintings and Polychrome Sculpture. Ed. J. S. Mills and P. Smith. London: International Institute for Conservation, 1990. 47-51.

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