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Gloucester Cathedral gets five new gargoyles during work

Gloucester Cathedral gargoyle
Ollie and Pascal (r) work on the mad king, which is part of the refurbishments

Gloucester Cathedral is installing five new gargoyles as part of a £750,000 restoration project.

The 'beasts' - which consist of a mad king, the Gloucester peasant, Sir ram, the lady goat and a sea-monster - will be installed on 11 October.

The gargoyles are part of the five-year South Aisle Restoration project, which is due to be completed in the spring of 2012.

In total, 13 gargoyles are being carved during the restoration.

Already in position are the wolf, the lion, the old beggar, the young boy and the bird.

We are stonemasons and builders, not trained sculptors
Pascal Mychalysin, master mason

Still to come are a mother and baby salamander, a young maiden and a young man.

The gargoyles have been designed by the cathedral's master mason, Pascal Mychalysin, and have been inspired by Psalm 148.

Pascal said his designs "illustrate the creatures of the earth praising the Lord".

"Carving gargoyles is a rare opportunity for us to express ourselves creatively," said Pascal.

"We are stonemasons and builders, not trained sculptors.

"But I am sure our medieval counterparts didn't go to art school, so we are carrying on that tradition."

Gargoyle history

The gargoyles - which are three feet long and one feet thick - will be positioned 35ft (10m) high on the South Aisle.

Each piece will take an hour to fit into place, with a crane lifting them onto the buttresses where they will be mortared into position.

A gargoyle is used to discharge water from the roof and away from the side of a building.

Preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls is important because running water erodes the mortar between the stone blocks.

Gloucester Cathedral still has some Gothic gargoyles carved at the end of the 12th Century.

Most of the existing gargoyles are headless, due in large part to damage during the English Civil War.

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