The visit was a complete surprise to me but a very welcome one. John was very interested to see the carving of his great-grandfather and it was a pleasure to give them a sneak preview of the rest of the bench as well.
It is getting closer to completion! The bearers are now all carved. The last one to be made has been a crinoid (also called a sea lily), which would have lived in the seas of the Carboniferous Period around 350 million years ago. What became the limestone underneath the Downs was laid down during this time.
Here are all three bearers, depicting a crinoid, a brachiopod and a colonial coral: