Some graffiti is a straightforward case of making a mark.
It is the impulse to record that a person was here, temporarily maybe, but here - at one moment in time.
You see it all over the place and not just in churches - initials carved, scratched, drawn. Some hasty, some considered, depending on how significant the instigator wished the graffiti to appear.
Then there is the situation where claiming to have *been* is not enough. There is more ego and pride involved; because the place of being is partially constructed or decorated by the graffiti makers hand. This piece of glass was bought to my attention by a window cleaner whose ear I was bending about my present hobby (I am not very good at small talk). "You want to go down to some of those houses by the river" he said "There's some old graffiti on the glass".
F Whittell Painter Bildeston July 1904
You can't read this very easily from the outside, you have to go indoors and look out over the garden. The finding of this graffiti was sad. The house was being renovated, the elderly occupant gone. A pile of personal things, books and pictures was heaped into a bonfire by the pleasant enough builder. Would he try to get the glass out intact? He said he would try but the glass being thin didn't lend itself to optimism.
Now rewind some centuries - cross county hop into Cambridgeshire (Hardwick) and look in the chancel of the church.
This needs a little translation (not done by myself I hasten to add). It says ...
marmaduke messeynden off helynge yn the county of lyncolne
Marmaduke worked on the church and then he put his name on it, so that everyone else knew that it was his handiwork.
Some things never change.