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  • Writer's picturemysteriesofmercia

The Bride Hands

These carved hand shapes date from the early 1700s and are inside the porch at St Peter's in the Worcestershire village of Little Comberton. New brides would place their left hand inside the carving to expunge all sin before entering and to protect them from evil forces when leaving.

The VV mark can be seen in hundreds of churches, a folk religious symbol standing for "Virgo Virginum", or "Virgin of All Virgins", known today as a Marian Mark. This kind of graffiti was one way that a "common" person could cut through the ceremonial trappings of the church and create a personal communion between themselves and their favoured holy figure.

Carved hand shapes do exist elsewhere, particularly in Gloucestershire, and in those cases are thought by some to be there solely to ward off evil.

I wonder if brides today are continuing this tradition at St Peter's? It's certainly an interesting church, built on a circular mound and with Roman glass once found during digging there.

I take a very close look at the villages around the Bredon Hill area in my book The Mystery Of Mercia, available at

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