Tudor wall could hold Walt Disney link in scrawled schoolboy graffiti and coats of arms

By Ben Miller | 18 February 2014

Graffiti and a coat of arms beneath wallpaper at a former Tudor school could have revealed a link to Walt Disney

A photo of an ancient faded coat of arms on a wall
The Old Magnus Building, on Applegate in Newark, has revealed more of its secrets© Doug Jackson
Two coats of arms, found in a top floor room of a former grammar school built by a Reverend keen to impress Henry VIII, have been discovered by contractors peeling back ancient wallpaper at the new National Civil War Centre in Newark.

The emblems revealed themselves in a former dormitory for schoolboys at the Grade II-listed Old Magnus Building, paid for by Reverend Thomas Magnus, a benefactor keen to win favour with the King during a tense time for the church. Built in 1529, it was extended during Georgian and Victorian times, remaining in academic use until the early 20th century.

“We've previously found very old graffiti in the dormitory carved in the plaster as long ago as 1608,” says Bryony Robins, the Project Manager for Newark and Sherwood Council’s £5.4 million project to create the Centre, which is expected to open next year.

“But we certainly did not expect to find two coats of arms. They are both painted red and one is in pretty good condition.

“At this stage we don't know who or what they represent or how old they are.

“Perhaps they were painted by one of the schoolboys, so if anyone recognises the design we'd be extremely keen to talk with them."

Richard Darn, of the Centre, called the conservation of the wall inscriptions "a major challenge".

“Historic graffiti is scrawled on the wall of the Tudor school dorm – very near to where the coats of arms were found," he explained.

“We are doing research into these names, too – we believe the name in the illustration, R Disney, 1608, is a distant ancestor of Walt Disney. The family came from the local area.

"They have been covered while restoration work takes place around them.

“The project involves stripping back the roof overhead to inspect the Tudor beams and rafters for decay or damage, so everyone is having to be very careful."

“We want to preserve as much as possible for the public to see when the centre opens,” says Robins.

“They are all part of the rich history of this 500-year-old building. We are certainly going to be doing further research.”

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A photo of a man in a high visibility jacket and hard hat standing next to a stone wall
Mervyn Bollard, from builders Woodhead Heritage, takes a closer look© Doug Jackson
A close up photo of ancient graffiti on a grey stone wall
The graffiti was scrawled into the wall of the schoolboy dormitory© Doug Jackson
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