Trails of Discovery

Do you ever go inside, for example, a church, and wonder at the features and symbolism laid out before your eyes? Why are fonts usually octagonal in shape or why do most lecterns have an eagle for the holy bible to rest on, or why do the letters ‘IHS’ keep cropping up on altar fronts and stained glass windows? For children this is probably an even greater mystery.

THE ARTS SOCIETY BATH EVENING recognised the opportunity to mitigate the mystery by introducing Children’s Trails. A children’s trail is a questionnaire designed primarily for children aged 8–12 but is really for people of all ages. The trail guides the participant round a building looking at its architecture, history and furnishings. A corresponding answer sheet is provided for accompanying adults.

The trail may be used by children’s groups, by families visiting the building, and schools.

Within THE ARTS SOCIETY BATH EVENING a group of volunteers have teamed up and produced nine such trails covering 9 churches in Bath and 1 in Box.

  • St Michael’s Without, Broad Street, Bath
  • St Swithin’s, Walcot, Bath
  • St Mary the Virgin, Bathwick, Bath
  • St Mary the Virgin, Claverton, Bath
  • St Stephen’s, Lansdown, Bath
  • St Thomas à Becket, Box, Wiltshire
  • St Luke’s, Wellsway, Bath
  • St John the Evangelist, Bath
  • Holy Trinity Church, Bradford on Avon

Example of trail at St Luke’s: Questionnaire
Example of trail at St Luke’s: Answer Sheet

Most of the churches are open during the day, so next time you are out and about in Bath with or without children or grandchildren give the trail a trial!

The answers to the questions in the first paragraph above:

The font shape as an octagon:cbe9f8_c9c82fe332ea3b140cae14b4135709cc.png_srz_126_206_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srz

A circle, the perfect shape is the symbol of God, a square is the symbol of the earth and the octagon is halfway between a circle and a square and is the symbol of Jesus unifying God and earth.



The eagle on the lectern:

Eagles are thought to be the birds that can fly the highest and so nearest to heaven, therefore a symbol of divine inspiration.




Is an abbreviation of the Greek word IESOUS (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) meaning JESUS.
In Greek capitals it is ΙΗΣ. In Greek lower case it is ιης. Over many years the letters have been changed to our alphabet. ΙΗΣ is rendered as IHS and ιης is rendered as ihc. It is known as THE SACRED MONOGRAM and the letters are often superimposed.