Programme of Events | Membership | Publications | Editorial Board | Officers | Library |  Medieval Graffiti Survey  
Hampshire Field Club logo
Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society
Registered Charity number 243773     Homepage | Archaeology | Historic Buildings  |  Hampshire Papers  | Landscape | Local History   
" "

St Thomas a Becket, Warblington

Church exterior

St Thomas a Becket Warblington has Saxon origins, with Saxon features visible in the tower. The long chancel is supposedly on the site of the Saxon nave.  The main body of the church is late 12th/early 13th C, with 19thC restorations. Photographs, taken by members of the Medieval Graffiti Survey, are shown below. Each image is linked to a larger version; to see the larger version it may be necessary to allow 'pop-ups'.

Our visit threw up some very interesting discoveries, the most exciting being traces of a medieval knight scratched onto one of the pillars of the N arcade. His visored helmet and shield can be clearly seen, and he may also have been on horseback. This image was probably originally scratched onto plaster covering the pillar, but the plaster was later removed, leaving only the scratches deep enough to mark the stone below.  This is an unusual find, and whether he was part of a religious scene, or represented a local dignitary, warrants further research.

Knight   Knight on west pillar
Knight on the pillar.   Close up view of the knight's helmet and shield.

There are a number of compass-drawn circles. Two hexfoils are on the timbering of the N porch, and there are patterns of intersecting circles on some of the nave pillars. A number of crosses were also found on the N and S arcade pillars.

Hexfoils   intersecting circles
Hexfoils on timber in the North Porch.   Intersecting circles.

The 14th century tomb of a lady in the south chapel is covered in graffiti. Most of this seems to be names and initials, some with dates from the 18th century onwards. There are also some small crosses, and intersecting pairs of Vs, an emblem of the Virgin Mary. Some of these may be devotional marks left by pilgrims visiting the church and tomb, possibly connected with Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, who lived in nearby Warblington Castle.

14th Century Tomb   Graffiti on hand of figure on tomb   Initials & date on tomb
The 14th Century Tomb   Intersecting Vs on hand of tomb figure   Initials with date

Not medieval, but of interest, is the mass of more recent graffiti around the doorway of the SE watchman’s hut, where many local names, some dated, have been scratched into the brickwork. Inside the same hut there is a lot of writing in pencil on the plaster walls, including a very maudlin poem commemorating love for someone now deceased. There is also a face profile, probably a caricature. The content of this hut may well be of interest to local historians and those researching their family history.

SE Watch Hut   Fragment of Poem in hut   Graffiti around the doorway of the hut
The Watchman's hut   A fragment of the poem   Names on the doorway of the hut.

Survey date: 17th July 2017

Surveyors: Ron Brading, Karen Parker, Karen Wardley