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.

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.

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.

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