From Whom the Bell Tolls: An Analysis of a Space Both Sacred and Profane


  • Samantha Wauthier-Paspuleti University of Windsor



belltower, sextons, chimers, timeline graffiti, the sacred and profane


For over a hundred years the sextons and chimers of Stratford, Ontario, Canada’s St. James Anglican Church have committed ‘timeline graffiti’ to the inner-most walls of St. James Belltower, and in doing so have unknowingly left behind a spectacular display of micro-historical storytelling and spatial negotiation. Like those who have readily written on the discolored walls of St. James Belltower, this article opposes the situation of graffiti in sacred space as being an automatic encroachment of the everyday profane on the sacred. Using a combination of document analysis (visual analysis) and autoethnographic techniques (reflexivity and narrative inquiry) I explore how the materiality of St. James Anglican Church’s Belltower and the ‘timeline graffiti’ found therein represent a uniquely Canadian example of how the profane operates within, against and parallel to what has so quickly been deemed sacred.