I have always been a little obsessed with gargoyles.  What I love about the gargoyles of the National Cathedral is that each one is completely unique and fanciful... traditional, but with a modern take on the idea. 

Wild Boar



Dragon Lion


Evil Too

Catty Aide

There are two "grandson" gargoyles. This one is the Angelic Grandson.  The other is the Mischievous Grandson.  I don't have a picture of that one, but he has a broken halo and his hand in a cookie jar. 

These next few are not actually gargoyles.  Technically, gargoyles are decorative waterspouts.  Their purpose is to hide the pipes that preserve stonework by diverting the flow of rainwater away from buildings. In fact, I just learned from Professor Google that the word, gargoyle, comes from the French gargouille, or throat, from which the verb, to gargle, also originates. Who knew?  Not me, that's who. 

Grotesques look like gargoyles, but they don't serve the purpose of adorning a waterspout. They are usually human or animal form in caricature, unlike gargoyles, which are usually mythical creatures. Grotesques are historically practical too in that they support weight and help with transitions from roof lines to walls.

This grotesque is intentionally left blank to honor stone cutters.

There are hundreds of grotesques on the National Cathedral and I cannot seem to find any definitive list of their names or stories.  So I shall name these myself.

Angry Goose

Dragon having trouble giving the Vulcan Salute

Cat who ran into a wall and smushed his face

Too literal?
In the 1980s, while the west towers were under construction, the Cathedral held a sculpture competition for children. The third-place winner submitted a drawing of Darth Vader. Since the cathedral had been under construction more than seventy years at that point, the winning sculptures were placed pretty high on the building and they're difficult to see. The Darth Vader grotesque is on the northwest tower of the Cathedral.

The KingofHearts bought me a new lens for Christmas and this is the first time since I have lived here I have been able to see the Darth Vader grotesqueAs a child of the 70s, who saw Star Wars in the theater during its first run, I was pretty excited.  The Shortlings? Meh.  They were only slightly impressed.  Now if SpongeBob had been up there, it might have been a different story.  Sigh.

You may not think this is super close view, but consider that this is the picture I usually get of it: