Grotesques are figures carved to embellish buildings and are typical of Gothic styles of architecture. Like rain-spouts, they often jut straight out from buildings at a high level—on towers, say, or the edges of roofs—but they are, like this one, purely decorative. It is when they also incorporate a channel or pipe to convey rainwater away from a building that they are properly called "gargoyles".
Though only dating from the 1870s and the period of the Gothic Revival in English architecture, the grotesque pictured is heavily weathered by the forces of nature and atmospheric pollution and had to be brought down to earth from the church tower from one of whose corners it projected, before it came down under what was left of its own weight. When the church tower is repaired and restored, its three fellows will also be removed and all four grotesques will be replaced with newly carved versions.