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On March 12th 1848 I. Burton and H. King of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire were standing on a staircase of Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire, presumably with a hammer and chisel or some other implements, carving their names in the stone handrail built into the wall. We know this because the heavily incised graffiti is still there for all to read. It is, I suppose, an immortality of sorts. They had probably been inspired by L. C. Howy (?) who had done the same thing in 1779, and perhaps by others from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
At the time this brick and stone castle was in a ruinous state, open to the weather and to any passing tourist, antiquarian or vandal. Many of the latter left their mark and most of them can be read today. One of the characteristics of graffiti today is that if it isn't quickly removed it soon attracts more. That was also true in the past.
We saw this particular piece of graffiti on a visit to the castle. However, it wasn't the first old graffiti that we'd seen that day. Before we arrived at Tattershall we had stopped off at Haltham and noted the names and dates left on the stone surround of the church's south door by vandals of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There was much less, to be sure, but it was there nonetheless. Even in the supposedly God-fearing seventeenth century there were people who thought little of leaving their name or initials on the fabric of a church, clearly unworried by the thought of any retribution that might follow their desecration.
photographs and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12mm (24mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On