St Mary the Virgin, Elsenham, Essex

Script face
Script face

St Mary the Virgin is a charming church, close to Stansted Airport, out of the village of Elsenham and up a single-track lane. Pevsner praises its Norman windows and doorway. It was visited by Violet Pritchard, who noted some text with a face carved into the capital letter. There is a lot more in this church than that.

Having said that, the script graffiti that Pritchard highlighted, is spectacular.
There are also several examples of script, some of which are very elaborate.
Most of the graffiti is under the tower, including four dog’s heads, or hounds.
The most elaborate of the non-text graffiti, is an interlaced heart. There is also a set of compass drawn circles in a diagram of some sort similar in shape to an Indulgence Tablet from St Lawrence Church in Hungerford. And, in the background of a much over-written panel, some interlaced knots can be seen.
There is a collection of shields, mostly with the same heraldic device on them. This is possibly for a local family as they are variations on the same design.
The rest are a couple of Marian marks and initials. Notable is the George Caning graffiti, who presence was given in both Julian and Gregorian calendar dates.
And finally, this rather jaunty pipe-smoking man in a top hat can be found outside at the west door.

St Mary the Virgin Church
Church Lane
CM22 6DP

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