Kidmore End - Water Spout
A single block of stone with a carving of a head which has a hole though its mouth.
The head is worn and may represent either a real or mythical animal. It does not look as if it was ever meant to represent a human head. The large block behind the head has a hole which serves to collect water before being discharged through the mouth of the of the head.
As such a quantity of stone was expensive it is clear that this piece of masonry was not purely decorative but served a structural function. Where a piece of stone was purely decorative it would not have been necessary to countersink it into a wall to such a depth. In common with Romanesque and Gothic grotesques and gargoyles, this larger part would have been fitted into the main masonry to give the whole piece stability.
In the case of a corbel, which would have had to carry the weight and thrust of arches or entablatures, it was essential that the block was well secured so that the down-thrust would be borne by the wall. Another use of a corbel was in a “corbel table”. Here several corbels were employed to support the eaves of a roof. For a stone to serve as a corbel the top part would have to be flat so that a stone or wooden structure could rest on it.
Dating spouts and gargoyles is made more difficult since they were replaced as they wore away. If it was decided to replace a worn spout with the same design then it is impossible to date it accurately. Stylistically the gargoyle figures became longer and more complicated through the 13th century and beyond.
By the 14th century some were over a metre long, becoming ever more elongated, slender and with intricately detailed carving. The fact that the Kidmore End stone figure is only 20cm long, compact and comparatively simple indicates an early date which would fit comfortably with a Romanesque building style of the first half of the 12th century.