A green man collected by Harry Hems

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A green man collected by Harry Hems

This wooden roof boss shows a green man, a common figure in medieval church architecture depicting a face with foliage sprouting from the mouth. It is part of the Hems collection of nearly 500 items held by the museum.

Harry Hems was a master stone sculptor and wood worker who came to Exeter to work on the museum building in 1868. He soon developed a thriving business in the city and established a workshop in Longbrook Street. Many of Hems’ commissions were to restore medieval churches, and he acquired many pieces of medieval woodwork through this work. He displayed these items in his Longbrook Street workshop as inspiration for his craftsmen, but unfortunately he did not record where each piece was acquired from.