copford

St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in Copford, Essex has a blocked north door that retains parts of its original hinges. In 1708, some fragments of what was thought to be parchment were found under the hinges. When it was analyzed in the early 20th century, it was found to be the skin of a fair-haired male. It probably belonged to a serf caught poaching. If a bondsman was ever caught hunting deer on the property, he was sentenced to lose his skin under early Norman Law. A free man would only lose his hand for the offense.

Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. Which included, I guess, your skin, if you ever poached a deer.