Pax stone in church porch, St. Leodegarius, Basford

Pax stone in church porch, St. Leodegarius, Basford

THIS very curious stone built into the eastern reveal of the south doorway of St. Leodegarius Church, Old Basford, is unique in this neighbourhood. It is a "Pax" or kissing stone.

In early days the apostolic injunction to " greet one another with a holy kiss " was observed literally by congregations assembled in churches, and as long as these congregations remained small with the men sitting on one side and the women on the other, the custom could be carried out with due decorum. Moreover, throughout the greater part of the Middle Ages a kiss was the usual form of greeting, just as is a handshake nowadays.

However, as congregations grew, it was found more convenient to pass round some object, often a very elaborate piece of craftsmanship, for the devotees to kiss. In less wealthy churches some less costly object like this piece of porphyry was used for the purpose as "A token of the Joyful Peace betwixt God and Man’s Conscience," to use the pleasing wording of an old injunction.

The custom of using the Pax was introduced into England, it is believed, by Archbishop Walter de Gray about 1250. Archbishop de Gray had a certain amount to do with this church, and it is believed that this may have been one of his Paxes.

If that should be so, it adds zest to its interest to remember that it must date from about the time that Simon do Montfort summoned the first Parliament.