Object Stories: The Praying Parson

This animal vertebrae is painted as a preacher, possibly John Wesley the Methodist minister. Little is known about these figures. Our catalogue states that it is made from either a cow or ox vertebrae, and yet one on display at Tate Britain’s British Folk Art exhibition in 2014 was described as being a horse vertebrae.

Nobody knows who first decided to paint one in this way, or why, or when, or where. And so until some rigorous research is undertaken, this little fellow with its beseeching arms and flapping robes will remain a mystery, and perhaps that is part of its charm.


Object Stories are short and sweet tidbits written by the museum’s Curator Donna Steele. Each fortnight we’ll share another gem from our renowned collection.