Almost everyone who goes to Flowton church sees the dog. Well he is a stunning hound, faithfully waiting on the east jamb of the main porch door, nose in the air. His chest is rounded and on his flank there is etched a cross which may or may not be a cross potent (one of the ends has a "crutch" finial), along with a St Andrew's Cross. He has strange leaf shaped paws that are at odds with the beautiful flowing lines of his head, and sadly he has no eyes or ears.

Flowton, in backward order, has been known as Floughtone - Flohtun - Floctun - Flochetuna - Flokton and Flocctun . The speculation is that the name derives from a flock (of sheep) enclosure / farm. Which is quite a lovely idea; a sheepdog, stopping at the church door.

People who like graffiti quite often like to be the first to find it. They also like to share, and while not all of them are competitive, there is nothing quite like that first intake of breath when you see something that you believe no one else has seen in hundreds of years. Graffiti is quite invisible in churches, partially through the ability of limewash to obscure it, Victorian efforts to abrade it and the social conditioning which teaches church visitors to look at the shiny things, the brass, the glass, the alter decoration, not the plain old walls.

Several times I have been *caught* with a torch, shining its light across the base of a pillar, or poking around in a doorway. After the initial bemusement I tell the person what I am doing and watch their incredulous eyebrows dance up and down and across their forehead while they try to work out if I am for real.

It helps being a slightly overweight middle aged woman with a large camera (and sporting a badge proclaiming Suffolk medieval graffiti survey). There is nothing like a badge to lend a bit of authority to a narrative.
But back to Flowton, and to the piece I hope I found first. It doesn't really matter if I did, that is only ego after all. The graffito is reward enough in itself. A ship, a warship maybe, with crenellations suggesting castles fore and aft. It seems to be the remembered idea of a ship more than an accurate representation, although there are accurate elements, like the bow spit at the front. The helm inside suggests a knight, but is grossly out of proportion. The rigging, sails and crow's nest have been lost and the absence of an anchor is also a sticking point.
However I still gasped as it was a proper ship, and my first.