What's the difference between a gargoyle and a grotesque? A gargoyle has water running through its mouth (named after the French gargouille, throat), whereas a grotesque is more purely an architectural embellishment.
When you're wandering around England's historic towns, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the buildings, which all blur into one. One way to break it down is to look above your head and tune in to the extra bits and pieces which adorn the buildings. Grotesques and Gargolyes.
Outside Magdalen there are a whole line of carvings, with people, animals and groups.
As you walk along the High Street, All Souls College also sports a great range. My favourite is the owl just en route to Radcliffe Square. All Souls has no students, but is a college only for research fellows. The owl, as the symbol of wisdom, seems perfect for this intellectual powerhouse.
Some had become so worn that there was a competition for schoolchildren to design nine new ones in 2009. These are an important part of the Oxford landscape, after all. They include Sir Thomas Bodley himself.
Around the rest of Oxford you'll find many more examples. There is even a book to guide you through them. From the seven deadly sins, to whole menageries of animals, grotesques have been a great place for imaginative craftsmen to indulge in their art.
So, next time you're wandering around, look above your head and tune in closely. You never know what you might find.