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These islands

England's churches contain many topless female statues. We are uncomfortable with this today—so what made the nudity acceptable to worshippers in the past?

By Terence Kealey   February 2009

St Mary’s church in Warwick is a fine parish church. Simon Jenkins gave it five stars in his book England’s Thousand Best Churches. As Jenkins mentions, the church has the tomb of Robert Dudley, who died in 1588, the first earl of Leicester and a favourite of Elizabeth I. But for some reason Jenkins omits to tell us that Dudley’s tomb is flanked by two statues of half-dressed nymphs, their naked breasts prominently on display.

Another church discussed in Jenkins’s book is St John the Baptist in Burford, Oxfordshire. But again, Jenkins fails to mention that the Tanfield tomb—belonging to…

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