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. In 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”.
Granite 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.
Most 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.
There 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.
One 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.
The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the [obscured beneath the earth]
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
I would particularly like to know the full text of that one, as it sounds unChristian.
Who fell asleep on 4th September 2006 aged 91 years/ so he bringeth them unto their desired haven
By the grace of God, reunited
The Lord bless them and keep them
Sweet rest at last