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Graffiti in the Tower

Graffiti in the Tower

Rachel Harris
20th May 2017

As you explore the remarkable trail of history you suddenly realise that you need a great imagination to really put yourself in their shoes, learn from horrendous mistakes they couldn’t see, and be in awe of those who can create remarkable things from all but a beautiful mind. Every now and again you need something physical to send you back in time. Artefacts have a great time travelling way about them; writing upon parchment or a wall can also do that.

Guy’s Tower towers over the courtyard at Warwick Castle, standing proudly at 39ft and was built in 1395; uninjured by time, no doubt it will be here long since we have passed. As you walk the spiral staircase (if it is your first time you may believe that there is a single staircase), if you are not clinging to the walls hoping it will soon be over, you may notice a series of doors. If you are lucky enough to see behind those doors you will find beautiful rooms, arched ceilings almost like that of a church. This is where knights would once have resided. In the first room you will find history left upon the walls, from a time when the later Greville family used the room as a prison cell.

As you move towards the window bay, once an open hole with a shutter that now holds a beautiful 17th century window, you will see ragged staffs upon the wall now labelled as graffiti. This is a form of tagging we know and connect with toilet doors at school, but this graffiti is far more poetic. The ragged staff is part of the coat of arms of the Greville family. It is possible, as prisoners gaze longingly out of the window in hope of freedom, out of sheer boredom, that they start to etch part of the flags’ symbol they see blowing in the wind outside of their prison. Now the story of the ragged staff falls into legend, where the names of the true characters are lost in history, and only claims of a Greville connection are left behind. The story talks of a noble knight who defeated another monstrous man, not with a sword for he misplaced it. All he had was a ragged staff of a tree, and he successfully killed the man showing the man’s true power and courage.

Further along the wall you will see a carefully etched box with lines and beautiful handwriting, it reads;

William Sutherland prisoner here taken at Worcester, in ye defeat of king Charles ye 2, king of great Britain France and Ireland defender of ye faith whom I pray god lord doth preserve anon 1651’

A true portal into history, a prisoner of war once held here at Warwick.

If you walk into the room alongside the main room you will see a black chalk sketching of a man upon the wall, believed to be sketched by a T Anthony in 1649.

The room oozes with life, but we are not yet finished, and there are more stairs to come.

In the second room you will find a similar layout. You will find Ethel rose scrawled on the wall to your left, several coat of arms holding three fleur de lis, a sphere with a cross upon the top and many Victorian names pencilled alongside a coat of arms labelled 1886 believed to be a boat club. Then as you walk towards the bay window on your right you will find three names: the first a Disney, the second a Donnenhan, and the third a Froys, all dated around 1643 in the most spectacular script.

Now the last room holds a true gem. This is by far the most remarkably well-preserved floor, full of perfect imperfections, no electricity, just frozen in history. As you walk into the room on the right, in the middle bay window, you will find raised etchings. At first the writing is alien, a script written in a form of Medieval Latin which reads:

Hail Mary mother of god’ believed to be dated to around the 14th century.

Now this room is definitely a room you would like to be sitting in a corner of to travel through time.

 


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