The Pilgrim Rabbit, St Mary’s Church, Beverley

The “Pilgrim Rabbit” is one of my favourite medieval carvings and is located at the sacristy entrance within St Mary’s Parish Church, Beverley, East Yorkshire.

St Mary's Church, Beverley photograph by Hannah Rice
St Mary’s Church, Beverley. Photo copyright: Hannah Rice

The corbel carving, c.1330, is claimed to be the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit who leads Alice down the hole into Wonderland. But could the Pilgrim Rabbit be a hare? There are also visual similarities with Carroll’s other character The March Hare, otherwise known as Haigha / The Messenger.

In Through the Looking Glass (Carroll, 1871) Haigha is the personal messenger to the White King and is visually alike to the Pilgrim Rabbit in this accompanying illustration by John Tenniel:

The King and the Messenger by John Tenniel. Illustration for the seventh chapter. 1865
The King and the Messenger by John Tenniel. Illustration for the seventh chapter. 1865

From a visit to St Mary’s Church in Beverley, I created a model of the Pilgrim Rabbit (see above Sketchfab model embed) using photogrammetry techniques – quite a change from my usual poly-by-poly modelling in Blender.

Pilgrim Rabbit Photogrammetry in Autodesk 123DCatch
Pilgrim Rabbit Photogrammetry in Autodesk 123DCatch

To do this I took a series of photographs of the sculpture, around 25, gaining as much coverage as I could from all angles. I then imported these photographs  into Autodesk 123D Catch to create a mesh, and uploaded the obj file along with the texture file to Sketchfab. The model turned out better than I expected, particularly as the area above the rabbit was quite difficult for me to photograph with the sculpture being above head height.

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