St Peter’s, Sible Hedingham, Essex

The church of St Peter, Sible Hedingham dates back to the 14th century with a 16th century tower and porch.

The fact that it has graffiti on its columns and walls has been known since at least 1915 when GG Coulton reports on it in his paper Medieval Graffiti: Especially in the Eastern Counties[1]. Violet Pritchard also includes it in her book, English Medieval Graffiti[2] in 1967. Unfortunately it appears that not all of it has survived to the present day.

There is one survivor from both Coulton’s and Pritchard’s recordings – a grotesque face with other figures and plants.

Alas other previous finds have not fared so well. Pritchard’s crowned figure has been reduced to the merest trace.

Coulton and Pritchard both mention a hawk opposite the monument to Sir John Hawkwood but it was not visible. Pritchard also records a swastika pelta and that is also faint and hard to find.

On a positive note, there is a lot more graffiti in the church than Pritchard or Coulton describe, including a daisy wheel set in concentric circles and other marks. The porch has the usual cluster of names and initials, free of any whitewash.

[1] Coulton, George Gordon. ‘Medieval Graffiti: Especially in the Eastern Counties…’ Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, vol. 19, 1915, pp. 53–61.

[2] Pritchard, V. English Medieval Graffiti. 1st edition, Cambridge University Press, 1967.

Report by Anthea Hawdon

St Peters, Prayors Lane, Sible Hedingham, Halstead, CO9 3NT