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Naughty at Church

18th Century graffiti  Gayhurst church

The Monday Photo

St Peter’s 18th Century church at Gayhurst was just five years old when somebody calling themselves "I. Wag" carved their name and age into the outside wall of the chancel.

It was 1733, and Wag claimed to be 12 years old. I bet the rector wasn’t very pleased when he found this fresh carved graffiti in the East end of the chancel.

It’s quite well and deeply carved, and must have taken a good while to do. But whoever did this bit of vandalising didn’t plan ahead and ran out of room; the letter “s” in “years” had to go under the rest of the word.

But who was I. Wag? The rector would want to find out too, but I think the carver knew this and used a false name; a wag of course is a joker, a wit. Wag is a real surname, but it’s very rare.

Without a real name to identify the offender, the rector would have suspected every 12 year old boy in the parish.

This is the earliest dated piece of graffiti I could find on the church. Wag might well have been the first to leave their mark, but they were not the last. T B (I think) carved the church in 1845, and “M. Williams (RAF)” used a pencil in 1930.

This church replaced a Medieval one that had been in a ruinous condition, probably the same one the first rector was appointed to in 1227.

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