Saturday, 30 July 2016

More Medieval Graffiti

Running and managing a history blog is a great way to explore photos of unusual historical and archaeological oddities; stones, graves, tombs and effigies that don't need much explanation and the mere visual element can itself do the talking. Here is a selection of photos from various churches and buildings that show graffiti from times gone by, and reminds us that we have always had a desire for 'making a mark'.

The alabaster effigy of William Bulkeley c.1490, in St Mary's and Nicholas's Church, Beaumaris, Anglesey, North Wales. The effigy is covered in graffiti, Something that started after the Reformation.



The newer graffiti overlays the old, with initials and names merging into each other.

What looks like a descendent Richard Bulkeley has carved his name onto the effigy in 1601.


A study of the door to St Saviours near Ribchester, showing an unusual mark in the centre of the photo, not dissimilar to a stone mason's mark.

A curled circular mark found on the corner of a fireplace in the White Lion Hotel in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Probably 17th century.

Two cut out circular marks found in the same fireplace of the White Lion Hotel. The stone may have been re-used from elsewhere.

Four horse shoes found in a sandstone block in a wall in Wavertree in Liverpool.

Possible stone mason's mark in an archway in a church in Anglesey.

More modern graffiti found on the sandstone of the Sankey Viaduct, near Earlestown, in the north-west of England, built by George Stephenson between 1828-1830. It was the first railway over the first canal.

When looking at graffiti like this, you often wonder who the person was. Maybe 'K J' is still with us....


All photos by Dr David Harrison


© Dr David Harrison 2016

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Symbolism of Sudley House


Sudley House in Liverpool was built in the early nineteenth century, and is more famous for being the residence of George Holt, a shipping merchant, Unitarian and philanthropist. Holt was a friend and colleague of Christopher Rawdon, who is the subject of my latest book which will be published soon, Rawdon also being a Liverpool Unitarian and philanthropist. George Holt was a keen collector of Pre-Raphaelite Art, and his daughter Emma continued in the philanthropic vein, supporting women’s higher education. Here are a few photos of the House showing its architecture, symbolism and artwork.


Veritas - Goddess of Truth - a stained glass window in the porch way or entrance.


A plaster roundel of Emma Durning Holt, similar to roundel of Charlotte Rawdon.

The philanthropist Emma Holt

A portrait of George Holt



A painting entitled The Windmill. No other details are given, but it looks very similar to the nearby Wavertree Windmill

William Holman Hunt's The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, a copy of which hangs in Sudley House.

The carved fireplace in the dining room, showing what appears to be three musical cherubs.

Griffins on the fireplace.

The dome from below.

All photos taken with permission.





Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Stone mason's marks, re-used stones and medieval graffiti


When walking around a medieval church or cathedral, a historian is only one step from heaven in more ways than one. On public display carved in the actual stone and wood, is a written record of the workmen that built the temples, churches and cathedrals, and a record of the people who worshipped in them. Here are a few photos that show stone mason's marks of various kinds, re-used stones from older buildings and medieval graffiti; the names and initials of the many people who have passed through the doors before us. The above photo is of the doorway of St Saviour's Church in Stydd near Ribchester, a 13th century church that was acquired by the Knights Hospitallers.


The doorway of St Saviour's in Stydd, near Ribchester. The church is constructed with rubble and possible 'robbed' stone from nearby Ribchester which was a Roman fort.


What looks like a stone slab showing a cross within a circle can be found near the farm gate opposite St Saviour's.


A Roman altar found in the Roman Museum in Ribchester.


A window from St Wilfrid's in Ribchester, a 13th century church, showing Solomon's Seal in the top window.


A re-used decorative stone at the bottom wall of St Wilfrid's Church.


Another re-used decorative stone at the bottom of the church.


A stone mason's mark from inside the church.


One of the many different styles of stone mason's marks that decorate the stones of the church.


A stone mason's mark in the shape of a cross.



A medieval grave slab from St Wilfrid's.


A strange face looks down on the Parishioners....

All photos taken with permission by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2016













Friday, 22 July 2016

The Hidden Village of Wavertree

Wavertree is now a suburb of Liverpool, but was once a village in its own right, being the location of the Liverpool Hunt, a well, elegant townhouses, an 18th century lock-up and a lost windmill. The Liverpool Hunt once met at the Coffee House in Wavertree, one of its famous members being Joseph Williamson, who according to Stonehouse, attended the Hunt on his wedding day in December 1802. Monks Well no longer supplies water but the cross can be seen along with a 15th century inscription on the monument: Qui non dat quod habet, Dæmon infra vide 1414, which roughly transcribes 'He who here does nought bestow, The Devil laughs at him below'. This is based on the belief that travellers should give alms on drinking the water, if they did not, a devil who was believed to be chained at the bottom, laughed. Here are a few of the photos taken on a history walk that reveals the amount of rich history and archaeology that still remains in Wavertree.

On Waterloo Street at the side of the Coffee House can be seen the remains of what looks like a sandstone cottage, with bricked-up windows and a doorway. The sandstone looks of mixed quality, and though the name of the street is commemorating the battle of 1815, this dwelling looks far older.
One of Wavertree's 'oddities', a sandstone block in a wall revealing four horseshoes, situated on the corner of Thingwall Road and Childwall Road. Probably a stone that once was part of a Blacksmith's.
Monks Well in Wavertree, with its 15th century inscription. The well head is now dry.
The village lock-up, dating from 1796. It was used to lock up drunks, but during the Irish famine in the 1840s, it housed travellers and Irish families. Local architect James Picton gave the building a revamp, adding the roof.
The horse mounting steps, well worn from years of use, situated across the road from Holy Trinity Church. Dating from the late 18th century.
Mill Cottage, probably dating from the late 18th century. This can be found just off Woolton Road, down a driveway that leads to an entry. Through the entry brings you to what used to be the location of the windmill, which sat at the top of a hill, overlooking what is now Wavertree Green. The yellowish sandstone common to Wavertree can be seen in the exposed bedrock opposite Mill Cottage. A nearby road off Woolton Road has the name Tor View Road, which is perhaps a memory that the hill may have been referred to as a Tor.
When you come through the alleyway, in the front garden of the corner house on the left, lies a circular brickwork which was the base of the windmill. In the centre of the feature is the millstone.
This is what the windmill looked like, c.1909, before it was demolished to make way for development.
One of the decorative 19th century gravestones in the Church yard of Holy Trinity, that of JP Spencer James Steers. Wavertree was a village that attracted the merchant and upper-classes, as the surviving fine townhouses of the High Street and environs testify.
The grave stone of the first Consul of the German Empire in Holy Trinity Church yard.

The Coffee House on Church Road in Wavertree, dating to the late eighteenth century. It was the meeting place for the Liverpool Hunt, and as a Coffee House, would have been a centre for the wealthy of the village, who would have met to discuss business, politics and would have had a ready supply of newspapers and pamphlets.

All photos taken with permission by Dr David Harrison.

© Dr David Harrison 2016







Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Hidden Village of Grappenhall, Cheshire

The village of Grappenhall in Cheshire is a hidden gem, full of history, and still has a picturesque quality with its cobbled road, two great pubs and a string of cottages. The Church of St. Wilfrid dates to the 12th century and features what may have been the origin of Lewis Carrols Cheshire cat - seen in the frieze on the tower. This is similar to a cat carved on St. Giles Church in Wrexham, which incidentally also has a pig carved on a frieze of the church in a similar way to Winwick Church. The village was a location for trade being near the River Mersey, and the nucleus of the village still reflects the character of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

However, the old Grappenhall Hall School has recently closed and has an uncertain future, the fine early nineteenth century manor house was once owned by the Greenall Family and later became a residential school. It's a beautiful building which should be stirring the interests of architectural conservationists. The Parr family were also linked to Grappenhall, occupying Grappenhall Heys which lay about a mile from the village. This banking family were close to the Greenalls and are remembered through the Parr Arms - one of the pubs in the village. Certain members from both families have memorials in the church.

Grappenhall village today. The cobbles are still there - not sure about the new pavement though!
The carving of the cat in the frieze on the church tower.
The old stocks, now kept in the church.
Late eighteenth century grave showing the skull & crossbones, a symbol for mortality, but a symbol also used in Freemasonry.
The early eighteenth century sundial in the church yard.
The medieval font.
The Royal Arms displayed in the Church.
One of the two pubs in the village; the Rams Head.
Grappenhall Hall, once owned by the Greenall family before becoming a residential school. Now in need of conservation.
Distant view of Grappenhall Hall.

A similar view over a century ago, courtesy of this website which discusses Grappenhall's history.


All photos taken with permission by Dr David Harrison