St Mary the Virgin, Wendens Ambo, Essex


The church of St Mary the Virgin in the wonderfully named village of Wendens Ambo in Essex is a little gem of a church. It is small, dimly lit and smelled of incense on the day I visited.

The graffiti is mostly found on the south pillars and south doorway. It contains a unusual number of heraldic shields and one very fine INRI. I have been informed by an expert in the history of Wendens Ambo that the shield with a chevron may be the arms of the Loveneys family from the early 15th century. This is only a tentative identification as the colours are missing from the graffiti.

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The rest of the graffiti is mostly initials, memorials and crosses. A single compass drawn circle is at the porch entrance. This is noteworthy because the porch was restored in 1847.

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The church has also some nice fragments of wall paintings showing the life of St Margaret and an exemplary memorial brass of a knight in armour. There is also a lovely pew end carving of a wild boar with one foot on a circular mirror. This represents the medieval fable of the tiger and the mirror. Presumably neither the carver nor the commissioner of the piece knew what a tiger looked like and one fierce woodland creature is very much like another, after all.

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St Mary the Virgin
Church Street
Wendens Ambo
Saffron Waldon
CB11 4JZ

The church is open during daylight hours. There is limited parking on Church St.

Correspondent: Anthea Hawdon