At rest

North side

Child grave I was surprised Terry did not use the word “died”, but a euphemism. What is wrong with “died”? It is short and clear, and has no particular connotations, unlike “passed on”, “shuffled off this mortal coil”, or “kicked the bucket”. He agreed “died” is the word to use. I like to see architecture myselfChildren's areaIn the Woodford graveyard, so many graves have “fell asleep” or “passed over”, he complains. With an hour to kill in Irthlingborough- the charity shop? The coffee shop? Sitting on a bench with a magazine? – I decided to check out the church, which was there in the 17th century. Did people “pass on”? I start near the church. In these 19th century gravestones, the word used is “died”.

Flowers south of church

AngelGranite and slate seem to last the longest. Some cheapskates used other materials, which erode in the rain, though I suppose it does not really matter 150 years after death. There are few angels or particularly high memorials, though one angel prays over a grave paved in stone: the moss started growing in the now-illegible words, and is spreading to the rest. Carving on the vertical stone is the way, or the slope on these stones: the last I find here died in 2008.

Changing fashionsMost of the graves have a low stone wall enclosing them, to keep feet out, though there is little room between to walk. Quaker graves do not have such a wall, and our stones are small and uniform.

Children's areaThere is about an acre of land in this graveyard, which goes down the incline towards the river. The 20th century gravestones further South of the church have a sprinkling of “fell asleep” rather than “died”. I suppose it depends what you notice- Terry might be shocked by far fewer “fell asleep”s, I am reassured by the majority being “died”. One or two say how they died. A woman left her home in health never to return, and died after a few hours’ illness. She was 32. A child died in an accident. Several gravestones have the crest of the Northamptonshire Regiment, and one, for the Scouts of Irthlingborough, has a wreath of “poppies”. One grave from the 1970s has flowers- imitation flowers, but still.

CrossOne grave has logorrhoea. This stone […] in memory of Thomas Treeman Su—-, who after a […] and painful illness which he bore with Gl[adness??] fortitude and resignation was removed from time to Eternity on the 9th day of October 1812 in the [5/6?]2nd year of his age. Also in this place lieth the remains of John and Susannah Su—-. He died …1807, aged 84 years, She died August the 6th 1799 aged 77 years. Note how much of the inscription relates to the son, who did not care to erect a stone for his parents.

fallen angelPalaeography is easier: the whole letter is visible. Here, I am guessing. Some epitaphs are touching, some memento mori, some in hopes of heaven:

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the [obscured beneath the earth]

Flowers after 40 yearsWatch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the son of man cometh

All you that come my grave to see
As I am now so you must be
Repent in time make no delay
I in my prime was called away

Oh death thou didst unto us come
and took from us our only son
And oh how grieved we were to part
with that dear loved one of our heart
A loving son his earthly load lays down
[…]

granite roofsThere is no death {…]
This life of […]
Is but a suburb of the life Elysian
whose […] all death

I would particularly like to know the full text of that one, as it sounds unChristian.

Sloping angelWhat is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away

Who fell asleep on 4th September 2006 aged 91 years/ so he bringeth them unto their desired haven

The Cross as a living treeSeveral are “At rest”, and couples are “reunited”:

By the grace of God, reunited
The Lord bless them and keep them
Sweet rest at last

South side

9 thoughts on “At rest

    • I love the inscriptions. I remembered one verse from this hymn from a gravestone, and have found the whole:

      Ah, lovely appearance of death!
      What sight upon earth is so fair?
      Not all the gay pageants that breathe
      Can with a dead body compare.
      With solemn delight I survey
      The corpse when the spirit is fled,
      In love with the beautiful clay,
      And longing to lie in its stead.
      
          How blest is our brother, bereft
      Of all that could burden his mind;
      How easy the soul that has left
      This wearisome body behind!
      Of evil incapable thou,
      Whose relics with envy I see,
      No longer in misery now,
      No longer a sinner like me.
      
      This earth is afflicted no more
      With sickness, or shaken with pain;
      The war in the members is o’er,
      And never shall vex him again;
      No anger henceforward, or shame,
      Shall redden this innocent clay;
      Extinct is the animal flame,
      And passion is vanished away.
      
      This languishing head is at rest,
      Its thinking and aching are o’er;
      This quiet immovable breast
      Is heaved by affliction no more;
      This heart is no longer the seat
      Of trouble and torturing pain;
      It ceases to flutter and beat,
      It never shall flutter again.
      
      The lids he seldom could close,
      By sorrow forbidden to sleep,
      Sealed up in eternal repose,
      Have strangely forgotten to weep;
      The fountains can yield no supplies,
      These hollows from water are free,
      The tears are all wiped from these eyes,
      And evil they never shall see.
      
      To mourn and to suffer is mine,
      While bound in a prison I breathe,
      And still for deliverance pine,
      And press to the issues of death.
      What now with my tears I bedew
      O might I this moment become,
      My spirit created anew,
      My flesh be consigned to the tomb!
      

      The other verse is Longfellow:

      There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
      This life of mortal breath
      Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
      Whose portal we call Death.

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  1. I used to be intrigued with graveyards and even used to visit one close by when I was a kid – me and a few mates would go collecting conkers – their was a magnificent Horse Chestnut tree within the church grounds.
    It was fun to wander around( keeping an eye out for the church warden)- and look at all the names and wonder what people had died of. As some of the dates were in the 1940’s we reckoned as kids that many had died because of the War.

    These days, looking at gravestones makes me more aware of our mortality. My folks are cracking on and as with us all, tis only a matter of time.

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    • Welcome, Douglas. Lovely to have you here. Did you come from The Ark?

      In the midst of Death we are in Life. Make the most of it while it lasts…

      [Added] Oh. In a sense, I suppose. Is it just who you log in as, or do you want to lead people to both blogs? Both are worth looking at, and congratulations on the publishing contract.

      Like

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