Thursday 26 June 2014

Well-defined Angel

This magnificent angel stands on the grave of James Hamilton who died in 1938 aged 32 years. Not to put too fine a point on it [no pun intended], this is the first angel statue I have seen where the breasts are cleared defined and the stance is, perhaps, a little risqué? Has anyone seen a similar angel? Oh, and look at the close-up of the face. The eye and expression is quite striking. Flaybrick Memorial Gardens - Birkenhead.

The Curtain is Down!

Part obscured by long grass, this headstone commemorates Sgt Air Gunner Dennis Denville RAFVR who died on 09 September 1942. The stone records that he 'lost his life whilst flying for his country.' His father was a theatre producer at the Grand Theatre in Halifax, hence the additional words "You have played your part. The curtain is down." Sgt Denville was interred in Stoney Royd cemetery in Halifax, Yorkshire

The excellent Yorkshire Aircraft website provides some background to his death. A Wellington bomber DV433 was undertaking a basic night training circuit flying exercise and left Finningley airfield at 2325. Five minutes later, they made a slightly heavy landing and the pilot applied power and intended to continue with the exercise, attempting to climb away. The aircraft failed to gain height and flew into trees and crashed with the loss of the crew of four. A resulting Court of Enquiry cleared the pilot of blame.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

An Extravagant Tomb

Chesters's Overleigh Cemetery contains a most extravagant tomb, that of the Chancellor of Chester, Henry Raikes. It features a full-size prone statue of the occupant protected by an ornate stone canopy. It has been Grade II listed by English Heritage, Carved panels depict the Crucifixion (north side) and Christ healing (south side). The inscription reads: "Henry Rakes, Chancellor of Chester who died 28 November 1854 age 72 years. Note the headless angel sat by his pillow.

Friday 20 June 2014

Two Little Boys

A bright white obelisk is memorial to two Chester children who died in 1905. The memorial states:
In loving memory of George Goodfellow, aged 11 years and Henry Berry, aged 8 years who were drowned by falling through the Ice trying to save a fellow playmate at Hoole on January 17th 1905. This memorial has been erected to perpetuate their memory by sympathising friends and playmates.

A contemporary newspaper account records the following account:

Two schoolboys gave their lives for a comrade at Hoole, Chester. After school hours, Henry Berry, eight, and George Goodfellow, eleven, visited a deep pit near their homes with a view of testing the ice covering it. There were a number of other lads present and one, Bertie Wright, a son of the Chester Police Court missionary ventured on to the ice as far as the centre of the pond. The ice broke and he went under, but Berry and Goodfellow pluckily went to his assistance. It was not long before all three were struggling together in the water. Wright, however, managed to keep afloat until rescued by some workmen, but the two little heroes who had gone out to save him sank and their lifeless bodies were not recovered until half an hour later.

Thursday 19 June 2014

A Great Shock to the Family

Ellesmere Port (Overpool) Cemetery

The sentiment expressed on the gravestone of Joseph G Williams indicates how much of a shock it must have been for the family to hear of the death of their son. It taught me a new word -Strenth - an alternative spelling of strength.

In Health & Strenth
He left his home
Not thinking Death so near
The call was short
The Shock severe
To part with one
We love so dear

A Child's Grave

Overpool Cemetery in Ellesmere Port is a little treasure as far as memorials go. Here is one in memory of William Roy, the dearly loved son of William and Annie Maude Hamer who was called to Rest January 30th 1935 Aged 8 Years. Tragically, it also commemorates their dearly loved daughter, Dorothy, who fell asleep March 4, 1935 aged 6 weeks. William's mother, Annie lived on until 1987, dying at the age of 97.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

A Very Ornate Headstone

Some of the headstones in Weaste Cemetery, Salford are very ornate. This example impressed me a lot, especially the flanking angels at the top.

Monday 16 June 2014

Grave Art

Wandering around Philips Park Cemetery in Manchester, recently, I came across some very fine examples of Grave Art and Symbolism on many of the headstones. They provide a lasting tribute to the skill of the stonemasons who worked on them, and whose names are often inscribed on the base of the reverse side of the stone. Here are several examples of Clasped Hands. This symbol has several meanings, including Farewell and Hope that those separated by the death will meet again in eternity.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Two Fingers

A visit to Manchester's Philips Park Cemetery produced some interesting graves, not least of which was the Lusitania Disaster victims gravestone. I photographed a number of variants of hands on headstones and found something I had not seen before. Two fingers on a hand pointing down. Looking closer at the stone, I found that a husband and wife had died two months apart in 1911. I wonder if the family requested that two fingers were carved to notify that there were two of them? Sadly their Soldier son was to die of wounds received in France, four years later. Interestingly, I am having trouble in finding out details of his death . . .

Alfred Jones died 16 Jan 1911aged 54 years, while his wife Eliza died on 17 March 1911 aged 50.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

A True Local Hero

At the end of my visit to Weaste Cemetery in Manchester, I tried to find the grave of one of four survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade buried in the cemetery. I couldn't find it but stumbled across this intriguing headstone which reads: In Loving Memory of George William, the beloved husband of Susannah Fernley, who after saving 22 lives from drowning, died through the effects of his last attempt. November 30, 1904, aged 47 years.

According to a cemetery leaflet, George was a local hero who saved the lives of 22 drowning persons in Manchester and other parts of the world. He had distinguished himself at an early age rescuing horses that had stumbled into the Rochdale Canal. His first rescue was in 1880 when he saved the life of a man who fell into the canal. On three occasions in 1884, he rescued a boy from the canal. Unfortunately, the day after the third rescue, the boy was burned to death!

In 1886, he emigrated to Queensland, Australia, hoping to make his fortune in the goldfields, In the three years he was there, he performed more heroic feats. After bringing his wife to Australia, he rescued a man from the Brisbane River and then while returning to England, he rescued another in the Bay of Colombo, Ceylon. Back in England, he rescued more people and received the Salford Hundred Humane Society's medal. During his last rescue in 1902, he suffered internal injuries and never really recovered, dying two years later. A fuller account of his bravery can be found HERE.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Fifth Anniversary of The Graveyard Detective

Five years ago this month, I started this blog. This enjoyable experience has had its ups and downs - most notably when I changed jobs and was committed to a year-long weekly commute (224 miles each way) from the south to the north of England [very tiring], followed by the joy [I am being ironic] of moving house and then being seduced by the immediacy of Facebook! Now that I have more time on my hands, I have been able to spend more time on the blog. Website traffic in the past few months has tripled and my Facebook group - Graveyard Detectives - has seen membership rise rapidly from 100+ to almost a thousand. A very big thank you to you all for your support and interest.

As this is my 400th post and as the magic total of 100,000 views is just a few days away, I thought I would check the statistics and list my top five most popular post from the past five years:

1.  2012 2174 views Boer War Photographs

2.  2010 909 views   Swastika on Scottish Gravestone

3.  2010 660 views   Cemetery Destruction

4.  2010 527 views   Waiting for the Embalming Process to Begin

5.  2011 499 views    Mourning Statues


Munich Air Disaster Victim

Edward 'Eddie' Colman was one of eight Manchester United players killed in the Munich Air Disaster on February 8, 1958. At the time of his death, he had made 108 first team appearances. He was nicknamed 'Snakehips' for his trademark body swerve. A statue of Colman was erected at his graveside, in Weaste Cemetery, Salford, but it was damaged by vandals. After repairs, it was kept at the home of his father. Thousand of supporters lined the route to the cemetery where he was buried. Click HERE for a Blog post about the statue.

Sunday 8 June 2014

Little Pet Lamb

Hubert Rodney Johnson must have been the apple of his parents' eyes as they referred to him as  their 'Little Pet Lamb". The beloved son of Florence and George T. Johnson, Hubert died on 22 September 1936, aged four and a half years. The lamb statue that lies on top of his memorial is very well made. It can be found in Manchester's Southern Cemetery.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Multiple Heads

I saw this group of winged heads on a memorial in Manchester Southern Cemetery. I wondered if they were cherubs but I guess someone will know what term is used to describe them? Years ago, comments on a long lost post revealed that the number of heads varied considerably including one with eight! What is the most you have seen?

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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