The History of St.Margaret's Church

Hatchments

What is a hatchment?

A hatchment is a lozenge shaped wooden board which a noble family carried at a funeral, showing the coat of arms of the family, many ending up hanging in churches throughout the area.

An example of a typical hatchment found at St.Mary's church, Thornham Magna, Suffolk.
Photograph by Nicolas Vandevoorde.

After being carried at the funeral the hatchment would be hung outside the notable’s house for up to a year, and then transferred to the family chapel or church.

Hatchments show heraldic representations of the subject’s forbears, sex, marital status and which spouse died first in a marriage.

The custom came into fashion around 1600 with some of the last examples being made in the 1940s, and was restricted mainly to the British Isles and the Netherlands.

Swannington Church has three hatchments and a square board, hung on the north wall, depicting the Royal Arms of George III, dated 1762.

The hatchments and board were restored in 2005, by Julie Crick, Art Conservator. The hatchments show the arms of the Bladwell family, lords of the manor of Swannington from 1630 to 1800, while the Royal Arms board was donated by Jno. Bladwell.