#IfWallsCouldTalk Part 1: Graffiti

April 13, 2018

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Winchester Cathedral was founded in 1079, and has grown and developed extraordinarily throughout the centuries. With such an ancient building, it’s inevitable that some of the stories about its creation and development have been lost to time. To celebrate our upcoming Stone Festival, we have been investigating some of the mysteries behind the stones of the cathedral and the stories they tell, to find out more about this incredible building.

The first part of this series looks into our stone graffiti.

cathedral graffiti

Carved into many of the cathedral’s walls are pieces of graffiti from years gone by. Many people have left dates with their carvings over the years, with some claiming to be from as early as the 1600s. The only way that we can date these pieces of graffiti are in the dates that are carved in the walls, so there is no way of telling how old they actually are and who left them there. However, don’t let these graffiti artists lead the example, as graffiti can permanently damage the walls of our beloved cathedral.

Cathedral Graffiti from 1760

The image above shows a graffiti mark dated 1760. We don’t know who this person was but we do know what was happening at the Cathedral at the time. There were two Deans of Winchester Cathedral in 1760; Thomas Cheyney, who died in service, was then succeeded by Jonathan Shipley. Dean Cheyney’s ornate stone tomb can be found in the Guardian Angels Chapel.

This graffiti was done in 1859 by a J.S and we could assume that he was from London. In 1859 the resident Dean of Winchester Cathedral was one Thomas Garnier. Dean Garnier is well known as a founding member of the Hampshire Horticultural Society in 1818, which is why the Dean Garnier Garden in the Cathedral’s Inner Close is named after him. The Garden sits on the site of the old dormitory of St Swithun’s Priory. You can even see some of the original stonework today.

Check back in next week when we will be looking at the Lost Gravestones of the Cathedral.

More details about Stone Festival 2018 can be found here.