S.J.A. Turney's Books & More

Reviews, news and inside the world of books.

Posts Tagged ‘Churchyard

A Grave Hobby

leave a comment »

One of my more out-there hobbies is gravestones. I really do rather like wandering churchyards and looking at the stones. Some can be really informative, some can be humorous, some can be poignant, but almost every churchyard has something worth seeing. Some of my faves are the pyramid grave of Charles Piazzi Smyth, Scottish astronomer royal and Egyptologist in Sharow churchyard, the ‘fisherman’s gravestone’ in Ripon cathedral graveyard, the stone built into the wall of West Tanfield church of what must have been the oldest man in the world, and the grave of a man’s leg in Strata Florida churchyard. See? Always something.

Today was our annual family trip to Whitby for the nephew’s birthday and once we had climbed the 199 steps (I count them every year and always come out at 198 myself) the family went to look at the Christmas tree competition/display in the church. Having seen it twice, this time I mooched around the graveyard while I waited for the others. This is just a small selection of stones I came across.

20181228_144529.jpg

Many of the stones are sandstone and like the abbey beside them have been carved out by the wind over the past few centuries. This one is unreadable, but the pattern and the look of the stone is simply beautiful, and to me warranted the photo anyway,

20181228_144810

Here’s an interesting segue between style and content. Fascinates me how the weather has obliterated much of the text above a specific line, below which has hardly been touched. This is a gravestone existing in two worlds. And just to add some multicultural content, this appears to be 1864, and one of the interred appears to have died in somewhere called Geelong in Australia. Since transportation ended there in 1868, one must assume he was some kind of official or soldier to be shipped home?

20181228_144938

What I love about the Mewburns’ gravestone is the increased sense of urgency as one reads down. It is (and has long been) common practice for a person to be buried and their inscription added to the stone. Then a second body will be added to the family plot, and another load of carving added. In this case, the Mewburns seem to have crammed as much in as possible, with being verbose, clearly. I love how the ‘font’ gets smaller and smaller.

20181228_145122

This is clearly the unlucky corner of the graveyard. 3 stones here in clear view. Examine them at your leisure, but here’s the killer, so to speak: rear – “Ann their daughter who died in infancy”, front left – “boy” can just be made out lower right next to the destroyed area, front right – “who died in his infancy”. Don’t hang around with these families…. that’s all I’m saying.

20181228_145600

Oh, and I reckon about 1 in 6 stones in the churchyard are either ‘Master Mariner’ or ‘drowned at sea’… John Ward here, was just such a mariner who drowned at sea.

20181228_145317

The Reverend George Young was certainly an accomplished and respected individual…

20181228_145330

Sometimes a grave stone is interesting only from the imagery. I like to call this style ‘Peek-a-boo’. Creepy little sh*t, isn’t it?

20181228_145412

The Beikers clearly had land. Look at that coat of arms. Unusual I think on a late 18th century stone in a small parish churchyard. And just for fun, two creepy peek-a-boo cherubs accompany it.

20181228_144212

So that ends my brief sojourn through the stones of Whitby St. Mary’s. At that moment my phone went and the family had finished viewing a hundred Christmas trees and were ready to hit the sweetshops and amusements. Perhaps next time I will find the other interesting stones within.

🙂

Happy holidays everyone.

Si

Advertisements

Written by SJAT

December 28, 2018 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Travel

Tagged with , , , ,