First World War graffiti in cell 8 at Richmond Castle

Cell Block Graffiti at Richmond Castle

Drawn, etched and scratched into the delicate limewashed walls of the 19th-century cell block at Richmond Castle are thousands of drawings and inscriptions. They provide an extraordinary and unique record of dissent, rebellion, politics, faith, friendship and pride across the 20th century.

This gallery highlights some of the graffiti drawn by conscientious objectors imprisoned at the castle during the First World War.

Each deliberate and carefully delineated piece of graffiti represents one individual’s voice. Each voice tells a story. Some describe reasons for objection to the war, religious or political affiliations. Others recount poignant, comforting or familiar biblical text or hymns, while some simply record names, date of detention or reasons for confinement.

Although we know a lot about a very small number of these inscriptions and drawings, a new research project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund aims to reveal those stories which are yet to be uncovered.

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