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CHAPTER 10 - ‘Graffiti and Devotion in Three Maritime Churches’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

T. A. Heslop
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Elizabeth Mellings
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Margit Thøfner
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

‘Images occupied an active place in individual and collective religio-cultural responses and were one of the means by which selfhood and communal identities were constructed …’ Here, Richard Marks refers to devotional figures that have largely disappeared from English parish churches. These images provided a religious and physical presence, yet their defining features were more functional than structural. Other graphic representations with similar characteristics include both wall paintings and stained-glass windows, and in selected cases, it will be argued, graffiti. This contribution explores the latter in three parish churches in north Norfolk, united by their proximity to a shared harbour, Blakeney Haven. It examines not only the individual representations but also the distribution patterns within the interior landscapes of these churches. This, in turn, serves as a backdrop to considering the individuals who produced the graffiti and the commonality that witnessed them every time they entered the churches.

The interiors of many churches in Norfolk and even in Norwich cathedral have graffiti inscribed or painted on the stone walls, the piers and the wooden rood and parclose screens. Often, a graffito is only an initial or symbol, cut into the surface of the stone or wood, that has survived being covered with successive layers of limewash or paint, followed by extensive cleaning.

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Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia
From Prehistory to the Present
, pp. 148 - 162
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2012

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