The Hampshire Medieval Graffiti Project and its work with the Hospital of St Cross
The Hampshire Medieval Graffiti Project is organised by the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeology Society. It is one of a number of county surveys, all run by volunteers, locating and recording graffiti within historic buildings. These surveys follow the pioneering work carried out in East Anglia by the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey, whose Director, Matthew Champion, launched the Hampshire group with a lecture and training session in 2016.
Although graffiti nowadays receives a bad press, in the past it seems to have been much more acceptable, and reflects the beliefs and mindsets of ordinary people whose voices are otherwise missing from the contemporary record. Previously overlooked, it is now regarded as a valuable historical resource.
St Cross was one of the first sites we wished to survey, because of its historical significance and well-preserved fabric. We initially requested permission to carry out six visits, thinking this would be sufficient. However, once we started to explore the site, and appreciated the quantity and quality of graffiti to be found, it became apparent this was a major project. One hundred visits, several thousand photographs and 3 years later, we have finished the initial survey of the site. Now comes the lengthy task of analysing all the data we have collected, and producing a report. In the meantime, we have developed a graffiti trail for visitors to St Cross to follow, to give them a taste of our findings. This can be purchased from the Porter’s Lodge shop for 50p.
We have been very fortunate to have been allowed access to all parts of this wonderful site, and our thanks go to all the residents, Trustees and staff, who have been so supportive and made us so welcome. We must include a very special thank you to the Porter, Catherine Secker, who has been unfailingly kind, opening many doors for us and alerting us to graffiti we might otherwise have missed
Co-ordinator, Hampshire Medieval Graffiti Project