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St Peter, Goodworth Clatford

Each image below is linked to a larger version; to see the larger version it may be necessary to allow 'pop-ups'. References to pillars, e.g. S4, can be checked against the plan which can be found in the overall report.

View of St Peter's from the east

The main body of the church consists of a flint-built nave and chancel, with north and south aisles, and an ashlar west tower with shingled spire. The south aisle arcade is dated to the late 12th century, one arch having fine Norman dogtooth decoration. Pevsner, in The Buildings of England, Hampshire, states the church was once cruciform, the south transept arch being contemporary with, or possibly slightly earlier than the south aisle. The Purbeck marble font is also 12th century. The north arcade is later, of the 14th century. The tower was built c1540 with stone from Wherwell Priory, and pieces of carved Norman zigzag mouldings can be seen on the inside and outside, and another carved fragment in the chancel is probably from the same source.  The south porch is dated 1872. There are fine carvings of a man’s and woman’s head on the capital of one of the north arcade pillars, and a bearded (green?) man at the west end.

It is very difficult to date historical graffiti with any degree of certainty, but there appears to be a significant grouping of early graffiti on the south aisle pillar which supported the south transept arch (S4 on plan). This includes a fine example of a cross within a triple circle (Photo 2), now sadly damaged, which is probably a consecration cross, marking one of the places anointed with holy oil by the bishop when the church was consecrated. There are also a large number of crosses, some within compass-drawn circles, including a finely worked quatrefoil (Photo 3). These might indicate marks left by individuals as signs of personal devotion or prayer. On the south face of this pillar is a small compass-drawn hexfoil shape or “daisy wheel” (Photo 4). These symbols are thought to be apotropaic, used to ward off the Devil and evil spirits. On the south face of the abacus at the top of this pillar are two overlapping Vs (Photo 5). This may be an invocation to the Virgin Mary (Virgo Virginum) although it could more simply be a capital.

Possible Consecration Cross   Quatrefoil Cross   Daisy Wheel   VV graffito
Photo 2   Photo 3   Photo 4  

Photo 5

The north arcade pillars have a smaller amount of graffiti. There are some possible, faint crosses incised into pillar N2, which is opposite the south door, so this might be where parishioners recorded a personal prayer on entering the space. There is also a large compass-drawn circle (Photo 6), which may be apotropaic. There is a tantalising area of graffiti on the pillar N3, which appears to include some text and a shape. The word at the base seems to read “hoby” (Photo 7). This was a medieval surname, so could represent someone’s name.

Large circle on north pillar   North pillar - name
Photo 6   Photo 7


Possible ship's rigging Church porches and entrance doorways are also areas where medieval graffiti is common. At St Peter’s however, if there was a medieval porch this was replaced by the current Victorian one. The only trace of graffiti in this area now is on the west side of the south doorway. This consists of an elaborate web of lines which some believe might represent the rigging of a sailing ship.
Photo 8
Traces of paint in Chancel We also record traces of older paint and found many instances of red paint, on columns and around the south doorway and transept arch and, with black paint, in the chancel (Photo 9), giving some indication of early paint schemes. These colours match those in the painted decoration around the piscina (Photo 10). Traces of paint on Piscina
Photo 9   Photo 10

Second World War Graffiti

The set of World War 2 graffiti certainly represents a wealth of material for local family and local history researchers. An example of the additional information the graffiti images could generate is the report on the Wallis and Steevens traction engine, kindly written for the survey by Gary Wragg, who was formerly Curator of Milestones Museum, and lead conservator for the Hampshire County Council Museums Service, now the Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Members of the HMGP visited the church to carry out a survey on 29th February 2020. Such was the quantity and quality of the graffiti found that a second visit on 7th March 2020 was needed to complete the work.

The full report is available as a PDF download (1.7 mb); this report includes the account of the Wallis and Steevens Steam Traction Engine by Gary Wragg.

Karen Wardley,  Co-ordinator, HMGP

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