More than 900 years of intrigue, hidden paintings and compelling evidence of an anchoress will be just some of the topics covered during a tour and talk of Hornton’s St John’s Church.
John Bridgeman, who has been church warden for the last 11 years and a village resident for the last 35, will give the tour on Thursday, March 30 from 7.30pm.
Dating back to 1150, St John’s Church hides in plain sight a plethora of historical clues that, with the right pair of eyes, reveal a past rife with mystery.
Mr Bridgeman said: “The interesting thing about Hornton is that Hornton used to be on the main road between Banbury and Warwick. With it being on the main road and with quarrying being big business, Hornton was a very different village to what we see now.”
A quick glance at the external building, even with untrained eyes, can see its evolution from a diminutive chapel into the church it is now.
Step inside and you are immediately confronted with walls strewn with ancient paintings which are not quite what they seem.
Mr Bridgeman said: “If you look at this picture you might think it is George and the Dragon. But it’s a little bit more than that because if you get a little closer you see this guy’s got a moustache, and no one has seen George and the Dragon with a moustache.”
Less obvious markings on the walls, known as church graffiti, point to the possibility of an anchoress – a religious hermit who retired from secular life to one of utter devotion – which John will discuss further.
Mr Bridgeman said: “Porches were a lot more important in the life of an early churches so you find interesting things in porches. The most interesting thing of all is this mark.
“This is an old mark and there’s all sorts of elements in it. The most likely explanation for that is it’s not a masons mark, it’s not a crusaders mark it is a votive mark, it means there is something valuable, something interesting inside this church.”
Attendees are urged to bring a torch and binoculars to the event which costs £5 with all proceeds towards the church and includes a glass of wine or soft drink.
Mr Bridgeman added: “It’s amazing when you look at a church the stories it can tell.”