Thursday 29 December 2011

Little Alfred - the Saddest of Notes

When going through the box of funerary treasure, I discovered this small scrap of paper  bearing the sad words of a parent who had lost a child. It is very touching.

Click on the image to enlarge it

A New Memorial

This cabinet card shows the newly installed Memorial to Hitchen who died in 1913. Look how pristine it is. I can see a tall industrial chimney in the background.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Poignant Souvenir

Wherever the Royal Navy based itself abroad, there was always an enterprising photographer who produced souvenir photographs for sale to sailors. Until the 1920s, Cabinet Cards were the preferred format - a thin photograph mounted on card. Quite often they were a real work of art.

This photograph commemorates the death of Stoker Walter Cochrane of HMS Minotaur who died in 1910. Wei Hai Wei was a town in China that was leased as a British Colony from 1898 to 1930.

HMS Minotaur was the Royal Navy's flagship on the China Station

Saturday 26 November 2011

The Cemetery Keeper of Kabul

Kabul At Work is a remarkable video project and soon to be a book. Follow this LINK through to the website for more about the cemetery keeper and the project itself.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Executed by the Germans

Many years ago, I bought two mounted photographs of the repatriation of Captain Charles Fryatt who was executed by the Germans during the First World War. I recently rediscovered them

Wikipedia tells me that Charles Algernon Fryatt (2 December 1872 – 27 July 1916) was a British mariner who attempted to ram a German U-boat in 1915. His ship, the SS Brussels was captured by the Germans in 1916. When it became clear who he was, Fryatt was court-martialled and executed, although he was a civilian. There was international outrage following his execution. In 1919, his body was exhumed and given a funeral with full honours in England.

In 1919, Fryatt's body was exhumed and returned to the United Kingdom for burial. His coffin was landed at Dover, and transported  to London. On 8 July, his funeral was held at St Paul's Cathedral. Hundreds of merchant seamen and widows of merchant seamen and fishermen attended. Representing the Government were many members of the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, the Cabinet and the War Office.
The band of the Great Eastern Railway, augmented by drummers from the Royal Marines played the Dead March, Eternal Father, Strong to Save and Abide with Me were sung and a blessing given by the Bishop of London. The route of the coffin to Liverpool Street Station was lined with people. Fryatt was buried at All Saint's Church, Upper Dovercourt. His coffin was carried from the station to the church on a gun carriage. His widow was presented with the insignia of the Belgian Order of Leopold which had been posthumously awarded to Fryatt. He was also awarded the Belgian Maritime WarCross. Click on the two photographs for a closer view.

The coffin containing the body of captain Fryatt on the quarterdeck of the
Destroyer HMS Orpheus during the crossing from Antwerp to Dover

Merchant Marine Captains who acted as pall-bearers at the Memorial Service to Captain Fryatt at St Paul's Cathedral

And thanks to Wikimedia and Creative Commons, here are three connected images:

A studio portrait of Capt Fryatt

The SS Brussels sank off the Zeebrugge Mole

The Fryatt Memorial at Liverpool Street Station in London
Photo: Stzhang

Monday 3 October 2011

Sunday 2 October 2011

Passed Close Together

This memorial marks the grave of an elderly couple who died within a few days of each other.

In Loving Memory of Henry Walker Wilson who died Nov 4, 1913 aged 69 and Jane, his beloved wife who died Nov 10, 1913 aged 72. Lovely and Pleasant in their Lives - In Death, Not Divided

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Ornate Memorial

Henry Carey Houston - Woolen Cloth Manufacturer. Buried in Frome Dissenters Cemetery, Somerset

Monday 5 September 2011

Hurricane Victim

Today, visiting Belize City cemetery is a dangerous pursuit - you might end up staying there. A look at the city's online news website contains report after report of almost daily killings and woundings. It was a lot quieter in the 1990s when I visited, although my hosts were shocked to hear I had been there alone!

I was very taken with this memorial to Police Superintendent J H Sempill who was killed in the 1931 Belize hurricane. The category 3 hurricane killed an estimated 2,500 people. It was the worst natural disaster in Belize's history. The city was left devastated by the 125 mile per hour winds.

This photograph of a ruined convent in Belize City shows the severity of the damage
(published under Wiki Commons)

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Welsh Gravestones

Just three examples of differing styles of Welsh headstones. This trio was captured in St David's cemetery,  Pembrokeshire. Some of the stones next to some trees are absolutely covered in Lichen.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Preston Monument

This striking monument to Ethel Preston can be found in the Lawnswood Cemetery in Leeds. The grade II listed structure dates from 1911. Made from Italian marble, it has a life-size statue standing under a porch which is said to be a replica of the entrance to The Grange - the home she shared with her husband Walter. At the back is a pair of black marble doors stand ajar.

The waiting lady
By way of comparison, this modern day view (copyright Phill. D) is published under Creative Commons

Grave Robbing in Spain

Some years ago, I finished an assignment in Gibraltar and took a short break with my partner in Spain. Our aim was to drive north along the west coast to try and find the grave of 'The Man Who Never Was' - a body that played a part in one of the biggest deceptions of the Second World War.

Along the way, I noticed a walled cemetery and went to investigate. The cemetery was locked but a sign above the gate recorded that it was established in 1930. Walking around the perimeter, I came across a structure that had once contained the remains of a handful of people who, for one reason or another, could not be buried inside the cemetery. The covers had been broken and the coffins removed.

Imagine my surprise when I realised one had very recently been opened. The coffin lay exposed and its top had been broken apart. The bones remained, the remains of a shroud was visible and the skull lay by the feet. I quickly realised that whoever was responsible did so with the intention of robbing the remains of any jewellery worn by the deceased.

I then heard an eerie noise. It became louder and more high pitched and I look round to see my partner in some hysterics. She had been looking at something on the ground, a few feet away, and had realised, with immense discomfort, that it was a long plait of hair that must have belonged to the deceased. Remarkably, the hair looked perfect and undamaged. Perhaps it had been moved by the grave robber(s) so that an ornament could be removed from it?

Yesterday, I found a quantity of black and white negatives and contact sheets which included these shots of the scene. I did photograph, in colour, the scene in much more detail, but I have yet to find them. When I do, I will post them here.

The cemetery gates were locked shut to prevent access to the graves

The bottom right entrance gave access to the coffin

The coffin lies within. The wooden end is visible with
the shattered lid running back into the darkness

Saturday 20 August 2011

Twins who died Young

In loving memory of our children
Gertrude Maud May - 25 June 1904 - 19 years
Mabel Annie Gray - 2 April 1911 - 26 years.

I thought this memorial in Anne's Hill cemetery in Gosport was rather unusual. A heart mounted on an anchor, above a base of rocks. Note the length of rope. Its significance can be seen on the reverse of the memorial, where it is used to tie the items together. A very intricate piece of stonework!

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Roadside Memorials in Belize

Roadside memorials are a big thing in the central America country of Belize (formerly British Honduras). As I drove round the country, they seemed to be everywhere. Some were quite ornate. Here are just two examples. Quite bizarrely, the victims shoes or sandals were often left neatly on the verge.

The shattered windscreen is draped over the victims shoes

Large amounts of wreckage are left on the roadside

Monday 15 August 2011

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Mary can be seen, here, displaying it on this gravestone in St John the Evangalist church yard in Kirkham, Lancashire. There are several symbolic variations of the heart but, in this example, a band of roses surrounds, flames are coming out of the top and rays are emitted to its lower right. Note the sword that has pierced the centre of the heart. It is a reminder of the sorrows felt by Mary through Jesus' life. Evidently, at the presentation of Christ in the Temple, Simeon informed her that a sword will pierce her heart.

That said, the events commemorated by this gravestone certainly must have broken the hearts of the parents, John and Ester Moxham of Preston, Lancashire. Of their children, Ann died in 1871 age 3, Margaret in 1874 age 5 and Mary in 1889 age 4 years and 7 months.

Sunday 24 July 2011

This Way In!

It was a damp day in Blackburn, Lancashire. Things brightened up when I saw this slab of stone. The word 'entrance' and the initials 'TRP' were engrave upon it. I wonder if it is the entrance to a vault that serves the large memorial to which it is attached? The light conditions were very poor when I photographed it and the damp was reflective when I took an image of the inscription. I must return for another look.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Headless Angels

Looking through my collection of cemetery images, I was struck by the growing number of 'beheaded' cemetery angels I come across. I wonder why people feel the need to do such awful things?

And to scale

A Very Grand Memorial

This impressive memorial in the St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic church in Kirkham, Lancashire, marks the grave of Joseph Gillow and his wife. Gillow was a Justice of the Peace and a Catholic Politician.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Hidden Entrance!

This impressive memorial is in my local graveyard. It commemorates many members of the Smith family. I think there must be a very large vault underneath as someone has cleared away the grass to reveal part of the entrance stone (photo 3, below). You can just read Entrance to and the word Smith. I am tempted to peel back the turf to reveal all the words, but wonder whether I should?

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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