Started by: jo anne (34110) 

A new word I learned recently - so long as I can remember it.

noun. a face of a human or animal, often grotesque, carved in stone or metal.


Started: 23rd Jan 2022 at 14:44
Last edited by jo anne: 23rd Jan 2022 at 14:45:48

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

This one’s in Ince.

Ince District Council Offices and Public Hall (1903), now Little Giggles Nursery.

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 14:48

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

These two are on the derelict ‘Rock Hotel’ of Warrington Road, Ince.

Anyone know of other local ones to look out for?

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 14:50

Posted by: tonker (25112) 

Mascaron is a mask.

And so is a Mascara!

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 16:59
Last edited by tonker: 23rd Jan 2022 at 21:09:56

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

Thanks, Tonker. It looks like strictly there is/was a distinction, and the Rock Hotel faces may be masks, but the others are mascarons?

In architecture, a mascaron ornament is a face, usually human, sometimes frightening or chimeric whose alleged function was originally to frighten away evil spirits so that they would not enter the building. The concept was subsequently adapted to become a purely decorative element.” Wiki

The term mascaron …comes from the Italian ‘mascharone,’ which in turn derives from the Arab word ‘mascara’ meaning buffoonery.

Throughout the C17th a distinction was made between masks and mascarons. Writing in 1691 architect Augustin-Charles d’Aviler described a mask as a human face that was traditionally sculpted in the keystone over a door or window opening … In contrast, a mascaron was a grotesque image, a representation of something or someone unreal, and was used on doors, grottoes and fountains.

Victoria & Albert Museum

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 17:28
Last edited by jo anne: 23rd Jan 2022 at 17:35:19

Posted by: Billinge Biker (1353) 

Thewt they were Gargoyle's

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 21:03

Posted by: tonker (25112) 

BB, a gargoyle is a drain spout.

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 21:16

Posted by: Anne (4138) 

Gargoyles are the spout ones that carry water from roofs etc. These are more akin to grotesques.

Replied: 23rd Jan 2022 at 21:17

Posted by: PeterP (9297)

I know a lot of churches have gargoyles but do they also have mascaron's

Replied: 24th Jan 2022 at 07:42

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

Would this count, I wonder, PeterP?

Christ Church, Ince Listing:
roundel with head of Christ

Could grotesques have a 3D body as well as a face/head?

Replied: 24th Jan 2022 at 18:05

Posted by: ena malcup (939)

jo anne,

Have you ever seen 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'?
The original film, that is. Not the stage production, or the remake.

The location in the film, Oakley Court, did have some of the things you describe, ie whole beast stone gryphons, which were visible in the film, though I think they were sort of balustrade ornamentation rather than part of the building walls.

I do not know if they would still be called grotesques though, and I think they have now been removed since the building has been repurposed to be a hotel.

It also featured in a lot of Hammer Horror productions, but I cannot recall seeing said figures in their productions.

Replied: 24th Jan 2022 at 20:34

Posted by: ena malcup (939)

Replied: 24th Jan 2022 at 21:04

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

I’ve not seen the film Ena M, but I like the gryphon.

Wigan Parish Church has a fantastic array of grotesques. Listing

Replied: 24th Jan 2022 at 22:37

Posted by: Anne (4138) 

I wonder if the word gargoyle is where gargle came from when a person gargles with throat medication. Same with the word gurgling water seems more than possible to me, even the other way round.

Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 09:12

Posted by: ena malcup (939)


I did hear someone on TV say both words come from the same root.

Sadly, they did not say what that root might be.

Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 09:54

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

From Google’s English dictionary, provided by Oxford Languages:


Middle English: from Old French gargouille ‘throat’, also ‘gargoyle’ (because of the water passing through the throat and mouth of the figure); related to Greek gargarizein ‘to gargle’ (imitating the sounds made in the throat).


Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 10:04
Last edited by jo anne: 25th Jan 2022 at 10:04:43

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

One of the ‘seven sisters’ in Market Place. (P-a-D)

Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 10:57

Posted by: JR (324)

Jo Anne, I think there are mascarons on a house next or near to the former Wigan RL shop when they played at Central Park.

Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 17:38

Posted by: retep1949 (791)

WhenI lived in an old terraced house in Hindley the waste pipe of the sink came out of a gargoyle type face,every house seemed to have a different face.They are long gone now.

Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 19:07

Posted by: jo anne (34110) 

Thanks, JR, I’ll look out for those.

Retep1949, those Hindley houses’ gargoyles sound brilliant, it’s sad features like that have been lost.

Replied: 25th Jan 2022 at 21:41


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