| The name 'misericord' comes from the Latin language and means 'to have
Misericords are found in larger churches where, in the past, there were communities of monks. A monk's job was to pray - more or less all day long! There were no holidays and once you became a monk you were meant to stay a monk until you died.
Often the images were interpreted by the monks as having a serious meaning, though a single image could be read in many different ways. Some of those meanings are looked at in this website, but remember that no explanation is ever, on its own, completely 'right' - in fact just one medieval writer would offer three or four alternative, sometimes contradictory, meanings).
Many of the images, though, seem as much about telling a joke as preaching a sermon. So they can be seen as a reminder that the church is a place not just for pious people, but for scallywags too. Monks might seem serious and solemn - but they obviously enjoyed having a laugh as much as anyone else.
All the misericords used on this site are from Ripon cathedral. You can take a virtual tour of the cathedral at: