Making an author’s mark

Peter Godfrey
Peter Godfrey

Graffiti has been around for hundreds of years - and author Peter Godfrey can prove it.

He has produced a booklet called “A pictorial record of stonemasons marks and others found in the churches of East Yorkshire.”

Mr Godfrey spent more than a year visiting 152 churches - many of them in the Driffield area - before carefully recording the marks he discovered etched into brickwork and often dating back to the 1600 and 1700s.

Mr Godfrey’s “labour of love” has provided what is thought to be a unique record of such marks, which take many forms from simple outlines to complicated sundials.

Mr Godfrey said: “In the Spring of 2011 I set out to record as many stonemasons’ marks as I could find in the stone churches of East Yorkshire.

“I have made every effort to record the marks as faithfully as possible, generally with my own freehand sketches, but also by photographs.”

Mr Godfrey said that the marks broadly fell into three categories - stonemasons’ marks, carved sundials and graffiti.

Mr Godfrey said: “Stonemasons marks are generally of simple geometric patterns, such as arrows and crosses.

“Some represent individual masons and some are the marks of the quarries from which the stone was obtained or part dressed.

“Carved sundials appear on the south walls of many of the older churches, “ said Mr Godfrey, 69, , who is retired after a career in the architect industry.

“They are generally known as mass dials, since they were used for the timing of the services. A wood rod or gnomon was placed in the central hole and the time was measured accordingly.”

The third category, graffiti shows in many ways - from the initials of individuals to elaborate drawings. Mr Godfrey, of Hull, has included a collection of the more interesting examples in his booklet, which is available to buy from selected churches and from Sokells.