Carlisle Cathedral font Carlisle Cathedral font

Left: Whole font, showing the figure of Mary holding the infant Jesus. Right: The figure of St John the Baptist on another side.

Font, Carlisle Cathedral, designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield (1829-99). Stone, hexagonal, elaborately carved and with three bronze figures, one on every other side, sculpted by F. W. Pomeroy (1856-1924). Inscribed with the date 1890, but presented in 1891. The third figure, not shown here, is that of St Philip (see Eley 26). Interestingly, the font that Blomfield's replaced was also hexagonal, a fact that Pugin had once remarked upon: "hexagonal fonts, though not rare, are less common than either round, square, or octagonal ones. That at Carlisle Cathedral is hexagonal" (65). Dogmatic as ever, he disapproved of such fonts. Noting that an octagon was "a very ancient symbol of regeneration," he stated: "Hexagonal fonts, though they do occur, are not to be imitated" (62). Blomfield's replacement has been criticised for other reasons than its shape: it is, according to a much more recent source, "[o]vercomplicated," and made of "unpleasantly shiny stone " (Hyde and Pevsner 234).

Carlisle Cathedral font with lid

However, it would have looked more appropriate when part of its original, impressive ensemble, with "a tiled surround and steps up to it, with brass rails," as well as an "intricate cover which was probably made of metal" ("Cumbria"). Unfortunately, this tall and elegant lid has mysteriously disappeared.

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. Scan of font as it originally looked, with its lid, reproduced here by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter, Carlisle Cathedral. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL. Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Related Materials


"Cumbria — Passion & Intrigue — the Cathedral's got more than The Da Vinci Code!" Cumbria (BBC Local). Web. 26 July 2014.

Eley, C. King. Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Carlisle: A Description of Its Fabric and A Brief History of the Episcopal See. London: George Bell & Son, 1900. Internet Archive. Uploaded from Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Web. 26 July 2014.

Hyde, Matthew, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Cumbria: Cumberland, Westmoreland and Furness. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010.

Pugin, A. Welby. The Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture in England. London: Charles Dolman, 1843. Internet Archive. Uploaded from the Getty Research Institute. Web. 26 July 2014.

Last modified 18 May 2015