The above image shows an example of Witch markings or hexfoils found on the entrance to St Michaels Church Clapton in Gordano Somerset.
People would scratch specific symbols as an act of devotion or to invoke good luck – these symbols would often take the form of a daisy wheel, or hexfoil, a pattern with endless lines. hopefully to confuse and entrap evil spirits.
Similar patterns can be found on doors in a lot of the abandoned villages I visited in Oman and used for exactly the same reason: they would invoke good luck and well-being for the family or ward off evil or malevolent spirits (Jinn).
Those found in Britain come from a time when a belief in witches and superstition was part of everyday life. People constantly sought protection from evil spirits that might entrap them or cause harm to family or livestock.
They are found in churches, Chapels, cottages along with agricultural buildings and were used from medieval times right upto the 18th century. The oldest so far found in UK (as far as I know) are mid 13th century examples on door frames at Donington le Heath Manor House in Leicestershire.
The Church of St Michael Clapton in Gordano, Somerset, England, dates from the 13th century, although the 12th-century tympanum (semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window) is the oldest visible part of the church, the majority of the building is from the 13th century.
Unfortunately I was unable to visit the inside, I needed to request a key from the custodians as it is no longer a fully active church; a return visit is a must.
10 thoughts on “St Michaels Church Clapton in Gordano Somerset.”
very interesting this story
When I pass an old little church, I will look more closely at the traces on the wood of the door
Don’t forget the surrounding masonry, although some could be ‘Masons marks’ especially in the less observable areas. It seems this was one of the reasons these marks went unnoticed for what they really are.
I live in Bristol, so this is local to me. Thanks for flagging this one up!
A lovely area of the country Karine, always like going to Bristol – especially on a sunny day 🙂
The Church is well worth a visit, although I never got inside this time, photos I’ve seen look very interesting. I am told that the key is available from the “Black Horse” pub in CinG, they sell good beer as well !
The U.K. has such a rich history in many of its buildings and I wish I had taken the time to visit many more when I was there in the mid-to-late 1970s.
I’ll keep an eye out for your post if/when you revisit to see the interior.
Coming back means I have not fallen into the trap of saying “will visit another time, it will be there tomorrow” so next time in Somerset. Now I know were the key is and with the right camera, looking forward to visiting again.
I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing 😊
Thank Natalie, it’s a very interesting subject, but not well documented.
So interesting! Your image of the entrance in dappled light makes it seem full of secrets and ancient mysteries.
Thanks, if only walls could talk.
I am looking forward to seeing the interior on a future visit. Love old buildings that exude a sense of history by just being able to touch their walls or feel a connection with all the people who have gone before.