It was a fun and informative day (25 May) for Bressingham Primary School years 5 and 6 who visited Bressingham Church for a Medieval Graffiti Worskhop led by buildings archaeologist Matthew Champion. Escorted by two school teachers, fourteen children attended the morning session, and thirteen came to the church in the afternoon.
The children were asked to be archaeologists for the day and were instructed how to interpret the building and its contents so that they could understand how the church had changed over the centuries. Matthew encouraged the children to be observant by setting them several challenges such as mapping out the nave, pulpit, chancel and other areas in the church and he then questioned them about their purpose. The children had to look closely at the features and artefacts in the church: they had to count the number of faces and angels on the magnificently carved early sixteenth century bench ends, find all the locks on the church chests, and count the windows on the 14th century font.
Matthew asked the children if they thought graffiti was a good or bad thing; most thought it bad, some cleverly said it “depended”. Matthew explained that graffiti was condoned by medieval society, and often had spiritual or superstitious purposes such as to ward off evil. Matthew shone torches on the church walls, revealing lots of graffiti – some dating from when the church was constructed which fascinated the children. Before they left, Matthew gave the children worksheets with the alphabet in medieval script so these new graffiti hunters will be able to read graffiti when visiting other churches. The children also enjoyed jaffa cakes and lemonade.