St George, Anstey, Hertfordshire

St George’s church, Anstey, dates back to the 12th century with additions and changes in the 13th to 15th centuries. It is thought that some stones used in the church’s construction came from the nearby Anstey castle. Violet Pritchard has made extensive notes on the church in her book, English Medieval Graffiti.
 
There are three carts illustrated in Anstey’s graffiti. Two are upright, one is incompletely drawn and is standing on one end. One stone block holds an upright cart on one face and the one standing on its end on another face. There are two possibilities. The first is that the stone originally had one cart, correctly positioned, then the stone was  reused with the cart now shown on its end. The rest of the graffiti on the block was subsequently drawn in the correct way up. The other possibility is that all the drawings were done with the stone in situ and the up-ended cart was always meant to be drawn that way. Until more evidence comes to light we may never know the correct solution to this puzzle.
 
 
There are several items of architectural drawings.
 
Heraldic
 
There are a large number of graffiti shields scattered around the church. There arealso a couple of crested helms with elaborate decoration of a horse with bridle and a ragged staff.  Pritchard speculates about the owners of the shields and the helms but cannot come to any fixed conclusion due to the lack of colour, which is so vital to heraldry.
 
 
Other marks of note include daisy wheels, compass circles, concentric circles, Marian marks, crosses, dot patterns, cross hatching, a merel and a shoe.
 
 
Names, initials
 
Several names and initials are present. Interestingly a couple have been crossed out. There is also a possible merchant’s mark. The earliest date is 1595.
 
 
Report by Anthea Hawdon
Photos by Patrick Carey
 
Anstey
Buntingford
SG9 0BY

 
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