The oldest parts of the small Church of All Saints here probably date back to the Thirteenth Century, the earliest stone work in the Nave from about 1220 AD. Although it has been added to and restored it is generally a plain and simple place, but here and there are a few delightful figurative carvings, mostly headstops at the ends of the hood moulds which arch over the exterior windows and doors.
Since we first moved here I have been completely fascinated by these curious heads which have been staring out over the village for centuries. I think there are about 10 of them, some so weathered that their features are almost non-existent.
Every time I walk through the churchyard I say hello. I am not sure of the dates of them but some of them would certainly date back to the earliest stone building.
Carved headstops from the exterior of Grafham Church, roughly sketched in the cold churchyard with some added tones back at home.
Six carved heads
It’s an odd thing but I feel I will have to do these again and much more accurately. The human heads will, I am sure, have been carved with a person in mind and somehow I owe it to them and their long, cold, vigil to get it right.
One of the two creatures on the bell tower window.
What have these quiet watchers seen? Love, life, birth, death, happiness, sadness, famine, feast, sickness, health, wealth and poverty. They have survived storms and droughts and the mixed fortunes of this small village. I wonder who carved them and who else they have conversed with over the years. I am extremely fond of them.
I spent a day, in 2012, drawing in and around the church, see Another Sketchbook Day. Reading it again I see I was as curious then about what the watchers had seen. How could you not be?