Alphamstone Church Graffiti Survey

Submitted by Aldous Rees:

Alphamstone is a nice little village with a pleasant looking church with a wooden tower. This church is unusual within Essex because erratic boulders deposited by ice are present within the graveyard, one even being built into the foundations of the church.

The church also has some fantastic graffiti which was recorded by Ellie Mead, Jane Crone and Aldous Rees in early January 2015. There were typical crosses and tally charts, but also trumpet-playing angels and animal depictions. One of the pillars had a range of graffiti which all together could form a biblical story. Many of the images require an extra touch of imagination!

One piece of graffiti, if you can call it that, was of particular interest. It was text which read (this version is modern English, it appeared in both old and new English): “This Chancel was repaired with new timber mo–? By me Nycholas le Gryce 1578”. This appeared in large writing to the right of window on the south side of the chancel and oddly enough in very small writing on the left hand side of the window also. What makes this message all the more interesting is that from 1567 till 1593 the vicar of Alphamstone was a Nicholas Grice. It therefore appears that the vicar himself or workman authorised by him replaced the timbers. It is very satisfying when you can bring a piece of graffiti to life, by linking it to a particular person. You can almost picture the vicar standing there writing this message.

There were also a number of what appear to be game boards or reckoning/accounting boards on the walls. They are relatively common in churches.

This church is worth a visit not just for the graffiti, but its location.

Image 1: Nycholas le Grice message

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Image 2: Horses

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Image 3: Counting/Game Board

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