'Nationally significant' graffiti found at Kelham church

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Coat of arms markingImage source, St Wilfrid's Church
Image caption,
The graffiti includes drawings of coats of arms, as well as dates and names

Hundreds of ancient graffiti markings have been found on the tower and roof of a parish church.

Historians said the discovery, at St Wilfrid's Church in Kelham, Nottinghamshire, was "of national significance".

The drawings include initials, dates, coats of arms and caricatures, with the oldest found dating back to 1730.

The church is now hoping to secure financial support to remove the graffiti and put it on public display.

'Works of art'

Resident and historian Dr Judith Mills said it was important to remove the markings safely and preserve them "for the future".

"I was aware roofs could have graffiti on, but it's the different types we have, and the sheer quantity that is so different to any other place," she said.

"For such a small community, it's quite an unusual thing to have."

Image caption,
The graffiti has been discovered in the walls of a stone staircase and on the roof

She said they hoped to sink the graffiti into the floor of the tower so it can be viewed by visitors.

The Reverend Georgie Hadley said the graffiti was "quite wonderful to discover" and hoped placing it on display would "bring the church to life for local people".

The Grade I-listed building sits within the grounds of Kelham Hall.

Dr Chris Brooke, church archaeology researcher at the University of Nottingham, said some of the graffiti would have been left by local tradespeople.

"That was quite a common thing to do but at Kelham we have a lot more than we would usually find," he said.

"There are far more important and larger churches and cathedrals where you would expect to have more of this type of thing, but certainly in a little parish church this is the greatest quantity I have come across."

'National significance'

Image source, St Wilfrid's Church
Image caption,
It is thought some of the graffiti was done by local tradespeople

Dr Brooke said some of the graffiti was very detailed.

"Whoever has done it has [spent] an awful amount of time on it," he added. "It's not a five-minute job with a pen knife.

"This has probably taken hours and hours over several days so they are works of art.

"It plays its part in more than just local history; it's got some national significance to it as well."

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