Last week I set out a brief history of door knockers and posted some pics of old knockers. Here are some pics of amazing knockers, including some more older ones, plus some more interesting facts . . .
Caution: risque content included.
The Sanctuary Knocker:
The knocker on the northern door of Durham Cathedral in Durham, England, known as the Sanctuary Knocker, has played an important part in the Cathedral’s history. Those who ‘had committed a great offence,’ such as murder in self-defence or breaking out of prison, could rap the knocker and would be given 37 days of sanctuary within which they could try to reconcile with their enemies or plan their escape. The Cathedral entrance has now been modified, but it originally had two small chambers above the doorway with windows where monks would be seated keeping a watch out for sanctuary seekers, to let them in promptly, at any time of the day or night.
When somebody did seek sanctuary in the Cathedral, the Galilee bell would be rung to announce it. The sanctuary seeker would be given a black robe to wear, with St Cuthbert’s Cross sewn on the left shoulder to distinguish them as one who had been granted sanctuary by God and his saint. The person offered sanctuary was kept in an enclosure separated from the rest of the church, and was provided food, drink, bedding and other necessities at the abbey’s expense, until the person’s safe departure from the diocese could be arranged.
As far back as 740, Cynewulf, the Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Lindisfarne, offered sanctuary to any criminal who could reach the White Church at Durham—later replaced by Durham Cathedral—and strike the knocker. Housed, fed, and kept safe from capture for 37 days, the criminal was either pardoned or taken to a place of refuge far from the scene of the crime.
The Rites of Durham, an anonymous book about Durham Cathedral that first appeared in 1593, mentions the Right to Sanctuary as a “freedom confirmed not only by King Guthred (King of Northumbria between 883-894) but also by King Alfred the Great (‘King of the Anglo-Saxons’ from 849-899).”
The Right to Sanctuary was abolished by Parliament in 1624.
Lion’s Head Knockers:
One of the most enduring themes for knockers has been the lion’s head. Traditionally regarded as the king of beasts, the lion’s head symbolises bravery, nobility, strength, and valour. Lion’s head knockers in England were, and remain, widespread.
Lion’s head knockers were popular in the American colonies up until the revolution when the Eagle took precedence.
This one is Polish, the Poles also using an eagle as their emblem.
Thought to originate from the Hand of Fatima—a palm-shaped amulet used to protect against evil—hand-shaped knockers are common in countries bordering the Mediterranean whence they spread to neighboring countries.
I want a Vulcan greeting door knocker . . .
Not only knockers are big, one wonders at the sixe of the pople who used thios door and knocker . . .
And speaking of big . . .
(To be continued)