Symbol of the Month – Lion’s Paws

 

This month’s Symbol is a little bit of fun.

These lion’s feet supporting two sarcophagi within London’s Brompton Cemetery almost look comical – it’s as if they may just get up and run away at any moment carrying their cargo!

But, if you look closely, then you can see how detailed they are especially with the hair around the ankles and the claws. They are unusual as I don’t see them that often. But there are examples to be found in other cemeteries. For example, there is one within Norwich’s Rosary Cemetery.

The Cozens monument in the Rosary cemetery, Norwich. It’s made from cast iron which was originally painted black. It records Jeremiah Cozens and other members of the Cozens family.
© Recording Archive for Public Sculpture in Norfolk and Suffolk

The sarcophagus is made from cast iron and was originally painted black.  It is dedicated to the memory of Jeremiah Cozens who died aged 32 in 1849.  There are other members of the Cozens family commemorated on different sides of the sarcophagus.  Also, Mrs Bradley’s monument in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee, USA features a magnificent set of paws.

The lion represents strength which is demonstrated by the paws supporting the sarcophagus. They have appeared as decorative devices in Ancient Greece and Rome. These were often known as ‘claw feet’ or ‘paw feet’ and were usually either a lion or a bear’s foot.  They also appeared during the Renaissance and into the 17th and 18th century in French and English furniture.  This magnificent example dates from the Renaissance.  Although this sarcophagus has been dated to the 5th century the lions paws were added after the 15th century. It comes from Ravenna, Italy.

This sarcophagus was used as a grave for an Archbishop of Ravenna. The lion’s paws were added after the 15th century although the sarcophagus dates from the 5th century.
©://www.romeartlover.it/Ravenna4.html

 

So the use of lion’s paws probably originated in the Classical world as did the sarcophagus form itself. It’s a stone coffin that was used for burials and the word ‘sarcophagus’ comes from the Greek for ‘flesh-eater’.  With the rediscovery and use of Classicism within Victorian cemeteries such as Brompton it’s appropriate to find two elements from it.  Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome motifs appeared in many Victorian cemeteries and Classicism was one of the first major artistic movements to be represented within them.

These two examples are very plain apart from the wildly extravagant carved hair on the ankles of the paws.  They are both dedicated to women; Catherine Ferrall Carmichael and Charlotte Hooffstetter.

Catherine who died, aged 88, on 21 April 1853 was the widow of Major Hugh Lyle Carmichael.  He was the Lieutenant Governor of British Guiana from 1812 until his death, aged 49, in 1813. According to Wikipedia:

 ‘He was a strong proponent of giving native Caribbean troops the same rights as ordinary British soldiers.’

He is buried in Demerara where there is a monument to him. This is the link to the wikipeadia page about him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Lyle_Carmichael

Sadly, I’ve been unable to discover anything much about Catherine. There is an epitaph on one side of the sarcophagus of which I can only read two lines so she may have to be a Work in Progress.

Charlotte Hooffstetter is recorded on one side of her sarcophagus as being:

…’the 2nd wife of Charles Hooffstetter Esq

Nee Charlotte Gasquet

Obt on 31st August 1861 at 77.

 

According to an inscription on side of the sarcophagus she lived in Thurloe Square with Charles at what is still a swanky address.  They had one daughter, Sophia, who died in 1854 and Charles Hooffstetter died on 30 September 1870. The names of other family members are inscribed on the other sides of the sarcophagus.  But, again, I can find out nothing more about her. According to Find a Grave even her birth date is unknown and Charles proved to be just as illusory. So Charlotte will have to be another Work in Progress.

 

I also found a magnificent example on the Henniker monument within Rochester Cathedral.

The sarcophagus and lion’s feet were immensely popular and could be adapted to many other decorative uses.  I found several examples of much smaller sarcophagi and lion’s paws on vintage and antique websites where they were being offered as wine coolers and collarettes amongst other uses.  They would look very good on a sideboard or in a gentleman’s study.

But nowadays lion’s paws are more likely to be supporting an ‘antique’ revival bath tub which is a different container for a body altogether!

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

References and further reading

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=X3FjAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=paw+foot+furniture&source=bl&ots=adue3S9yfZ&sig=VPhDuMvb76W8LHyy02CZ-wzZKNE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi0yOu48NvYAhWjKMAKHWLfDFo4ChDoAQhRMAk#v=onepage&q=paw%20fo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paw_feet

https://www.si.edu/ahhp/smithsons_symbolism

https://www.google.com/search?q=lsarcopahgi+with+lions+paws&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiYy63th9LnAhXF_IUKHZLEAy8Q2-cCegQIABAA&oq=lsarcopahgi+with+lions+paws&gs_l=img.3…190039.196641..197488…0.0..0.62.1335.27……0….1..gws-wiz-img…….0i67j0j0i131j0i5i10i30j0i5i30j0i24j0i10i24.peZ9RteRhGY&ei=IBtHXpi7GcX5lwSSiY_4Ag&bih=969&biw=1920#imgrc=r4Ue1MRSDSt5KM

https://www.romeartlover.it/Ravenna4.html

http://www.racns.co.uk/sculptures.asp?action=getsurvey&id=940

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/elmwood-cemetery-lions-paw-jon-woodhams.html

A Good Samaritan found in Rochester Cathedral

The relief of The good Samaritan with pointing finger on the tomb of Frederick Hill, Lady Chapel, Rochester Cathedral.
©Carole Tyrrell

 

I was exploring Rochester Cathedral recently after visiting The Museum of the Moon temporary exhibition. It featured the Luke Jerram artwork which had travelled there from the Natural History Museum.   This was my first opportunity to have a good look around the Cathedral since moving here in 2019. There was much to see; 14th century Green Men and a zodiac depicted in tiles in front of the altar amongst others.

 

But it was a guidebook to the Cathedral’s monuments that pointed me in the direction of the Lady Chapel and a grander version of the Good Samaritan symbol.  It’s usually covered by a rubber mat so passing visitors may not even know it’s there.  A helpful Cathedral guide lifted it for me and as it was so busy I only had time to take a few snaps. I have to apologise for the quality of the photos. exhibition.

 

Someone really wanted visitors to notice the relief as there is a carved pointing finger indicating it.  These are known as ‘manicules’ from the Latin root, ‘manicula’, meaning ‘little hand’  and you can just see it in one of the photos.

 

This is a wonderful depiction of the Good Samaritan in 3D.   I have read that the figure of the Good Samaritan is based on the incumbent, Frederick Hill, himself.    I can see the reason why it is protected by the mat as generations of visitors feet would soon start to wear it down.  However Mr Hill may not be buried directly underneath the ledger stone that bears his epitaph. But they are usually placed over an actual burial vault.

 

According to the booklet, the ledger is:

 

‘an incised stone slab set flush into a stone floor.

 

This one is considered to be:

‘one of the Cathedral’s finest’

 

The fulsome epitaph reveals a probable reason for the choice of symbol.   I have corrected the 18th century spelling in which an ‘s’  looks like an ‘f’.  This is called the medial S which was also known as the long ‘s’. This was a second form of the uppercase ‘S’.

 

Sacred

To the Memory of

FREDERICK HILL, Gent.

Who

Anno Domini 1720 Married the Widow of

His Bosom Friend

THOMAS KNACKSTON

To whose children

Two sons and Three Daughters

His CONDUCT

Was

Affectionate and Bountiful

In the most tender

Parental Sense

In his PUBLICK Trust

Providing for his Majesty’s Sick and Wounded Seamen

At this Port,

So Fair,

So Just

Such His Love and Care for them

As One

(Solely Observant of

The Seal of His Office)

That Thought for,

Or Justice to

Himself,

Was his last, as Least Concern;

He Departed this Life, the 20th  of May 1759.

Much Regretted as Greatly belov’d by all who knew him,

Being a Kind Neighbour, Sincere friend; in Disposition;

Above Guile, and in Practice; an Exemplary Christian.

 

 

As you can see, Mr Hill married his best friend’s widow and became stepfather to his children.  He was obviously an important figure in the town and he lived in the St Margaret’s area close to the Cathedral.

 

I have obtained a copy of his Will via The National Archives.  It’s dated 6 June 1750 and written in flowing calligraphy.  However, I could find no mention of his wife in it so maybe she pre-deceased him.  Mr Hill appears to have been quite well off as he owned land, or estates, in both Southfleet and in the Brompton area of Chatham both of which are in Kent. He appointed his son, Captain Thomas Snarkston, his daughter in law, and Mary Snarkston, spinster, as his joint executors.  The estates were to be sold and the resulting money to be divided between his daughters; Susanna Borthwick, wife of Edward Borthwick, Frances Powney, wife of Mr Powney and Frances Flight, wife of  Major Thomas Flight.  Mary Snarkston was to have the use of all of Mr Hill’s household goods included his plate, china etc for the rest of her natural life. After she died it would pass to Captain Thomas Snarkston, then to Frances Flight and then be sold by the executors and the money divided amongst the aforementioned children.

Susanna Borthwick was to have one of his diamond rings and Mary Snarkston would have the other one.  Two god-daughters, Henrietta Soames and Elizabeth Page were  to have £50 and £20 respectively. With the latter it would be paid on either her 21st birthday or her wedding day. Mr Hill’s gold repeater watch was bequeathed to Captain Thomas Snarkston and 5 guineas each went to Frances Powney and Frances Flight.  Finally after payment of any debts and funeral expenses Mr Hill bequeathed the rest and residue of monies to be divided equaly between Susanna Borthwick, Mary Snarkston, Captain Thomas Snarkston, Frances Powney and Frances Flight.

 

Mr Hill was a man who appeared to have been as generous in death as he was in life to his adopted children.

A Good Samaritan indeed.

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

 

References and Further Reading:

 A Trail of Rochester Cathedral’s Monuments, David Carder, The Association of the Friends of Rochester Cathedral, 2019

 Will of Frederick Hill, Gentleman of Saint Margaret Rochester , Kent, The National Archives

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_(typography)

https://www.onlinewritingjobs.com/fun-stuff/medial-s-the-old-english-s-that-looks-like-f/

 

The ships forever sailing in Rochester Cathedral

A ship scratched on one of the pillars in the nave of Rochester Cathedral
©Carole Tyrrell

Last month’s Symbol of the Month was devoted to the ship.  It’s a central symbol of Christianity and recently, on a visit to Rochester Cathedral, I found more evidence of this in the medieval graffiti etched on several of its pillars.

They are in the nave of the Cathedral and consist of at least a dozen scratched images of sailing ships.  They look almost as if a child has drawn them and you have to look very closely to see them.   Th eone above is the only one that I could find easily.

According to the Cathedral’s information board these were often drawn by :

‘…..crew members and sea captains with proximity to an altar, image or shrine dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of those in peril on the sea. At times of trouble on a sea voyage, such as storm, a vow could be made to St Nicholas that, if they survived, a votive offering would be made in thanks, sometimes in the form of a model ship of wax and wood. Some of these models survive in coastal churches today but at Rochester this graffiti is the only surviving trace of this once common tradition.;

It goes onto add:

‘……..All recorded designs are located on the south face of the pillar, (this) may indicate the suspected  position of an altar or shrine to St Nicholas in the south nave aisle in the 12th of 13th centuries.’

 

There is a church dedicated to St Nicholas adjacent to the Cathedral but this is now the offices of the Board of Education of the Diocese of Rochester.  According to their website, there was a shrine to the saint within the Cathedral at which people worshipped until the 15th century. It was consecrated on 18 December 1423.   The current church dates from the 17th century with 19th century restoration.

So these little ships, symbols of protection, will sail on a sea of stone for as long as the Cathedral stands.  Let’s hope that all of the crews and captains, they who go down to the sea in ships, who created them came home safely back to port.

©Text and photographs Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated.

References and further reading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Nicholas_Church,_Rochester

https://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/01/03/ROCN.htm

 

 

Symbol of the Month – The Boat

The first Symbol of the Month of 2020 – a little later than I planned but more to come….

Close-up of boat, Caig monument Brompton Cemetery
Side view of boat

There are many sailing vessels in cemeteries. Ships, boats and the occasional yacht, becalmed on headstones or monuments forever sailing on a marble or granite sea.  Often they reveal the incumbent’s former occupation as on this fine example on the grave of Captain Edward Parry Nisbet in Brompton Cemetery.  Note the cross formed by the mast which is one of the central symbols of Christianity. There’s also the magnificent and exuberant monument to Captain Wimble  and his indomitable wife on the appropriately named Ship Path in West Norwood Cemetery.

But this little boat tied up and apparently moored at the base of a large cross is symbolic of a journey that has reached its final destination.

Side Side view of boatview of boat showing detail as it’s been carved to resemble a wooden boat.

The monument is located within Brompton Cemetery and is a representation of the journey of life.  This is a small sculpture of a rowing boat that has been carved to resemble a wooden one and there are seats inside but no oars. It could be interpreted as coming to the end of your life or journey and entering another life of eternity symbolised by the cross.  In other words, the crossing to the ‘other world’ as Douglas Keister calls it.   Also as www.stoneletters says:

‘…it’s a symbol of our last journey, it embodies the voyage of life, of coming full circle and taking us back to the waters of our beginning.’

However a boat can also be seen as an emblem of safety and refuge as it carries us over life’s often choppy seas and takes us home.  In this context, another boat that springs to mind is Noah’s Ark.  It protected and saved all that were on it and was a metaphor for the church as it weathered the storm against all odds.  However, Keister also suggests that the shape of a boat can resemble that of a cradle or a womb which would again emphasise shelter and protection. It holds us secure above the chaos of life.

Boats and death are a central theme in many other religions and cultures in that they carry the souls of the dead to eternity.  For example, King Arthur was transported by boat on death and, most famously, the Vikings people also used funerary boats. This was granted to important people of the tribe as they and their possessions would be sent out across the water in one after it had been set ablaze.  A symbolic mimicking of the soul’s journey to Valhalla.  Also in Greek mythology, Charon was the ferryman who took the souls of the dead by boat into the Underworld by crossing the River of Woe, Acheron.

But boats and death also feature in literature, especially poetry and there is the famous quotation by F Scott Fitzgerald:

‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’ 

‘Crossing the Bar’ by  Alfred Lord Tennyson also features a sea voyage which will end in death,

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

There is also The Ship of Death by D H Lawrence amongst others.

I said earlier that a boat or ship is an important Christian symbol due to the mast forming a cross. Also, the Latin for ‘nave’ ,the central aisle of a church,  means ‘ship’ and there are several Biblical references to boats and ships.  After all, Christ told his disciples to “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”.

But let’s not forget that a boat or ship can also indicate a love of sailing and freedom.

The epitaph beneath the boat – some of the letters are missing .
©Carole Tyrrell

Some of the letters on the epitaph beneath the boat and cross have worn away so I can only assume tha the name commemorated is Walter Ward M Cais but it seems incomplete. He died young at only 43 and his widow, Martha, married again and lived well into the 20th century. It must have been a message of comfort that Walter’s small boat was moored safely for eternity.

Full view of the boat and cross, Caig monument, Brompton Cemetery
©Carole Tyrrell

 

© Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

References:

Stories in Stone, Douglas Keister, Gibbs Smith, 2004

https://stoneletters.com/blog/headstone-symbols-the-boat

https://allaboutheaven.org/symbols/boat/123

http://www.historyofpainters.com/boat_symbolism.htm

http://imagesinthemind.blogspot.com/2008/08/boat-symbol.html

 

A wandering ghost and a memorial to a favourite deer – Crawford Priory, Cupar, Fife

Crawford Priory in ruin shared via Wiki Creative Commons
©David Kelly

On windy nights, the derelict and romantic ruin that is Crawford Priory is reputed to have a familiar visitor.  A wandering spirit walks through the estate which she once owned accompanied by a retinue of the per animals that she knew and loved.  This is the ghost of Lady Mary Lindsay Crawford who is rumoured to walk the grounds when the wind is high.

Is she keeping a watch on the crumbling building or her crypt which is a mile away.  Or does she see the Priory as it once was with its fine furnishings and decoration and a butler opening the front door to visitors as she, smiling,  descends the sweeping staircase to meet them?

Deep in the Fife countryside lies the shell of a derelict, once grand country house.  For over 25 years it has been abandoned to nature which is fast obscuring it from memory and the world.  Ivy and saplings have thrust their way through broken windows and doors and a fire in 1995 was the final indignity. In 1997 its current owner applied to have it demolished but it may just eventually fall down by itself.

The cawing of crows or the wind whistling around what’s left of the Gothic styled Crawford Priory are the only sounds that the casual visitor will hear now.

However, it was never actually a priory and no religious order ever lived there.  But the name went with the romantic Gothic touches such as the pointed windows and the battlements and so it became one.

Lady Mary’s crypt, Crawford Priory in sad decline
©British Listed Buildings

A mile away near Lady Mary’s Wood lies an equally ruinous crypt dedicated to the Priory’s creator and the last of her line, Lady Mary Lindsay Crawford. From urban explorers websites, the last great recorders and finders of the abandoned, the crypt is in no better state than the Priory.  Its door is now bricked up although a hole has been made in it and the crypt is falling in on itself. The pet cemetery is rumoured to be still there but I haven’t seen any photos of that while researching this article.

To add to the romance of the place there is also a belief that the pale wraith of Lady Mary drifts across the site as she gathers her pet animals around her.  She had the crypt built so that she would always have a good view of the Priory even in death.

I am indebted to a Facebook friend who lives in Scotland with her family. They like to go out and explore the local countryside and share their photos and adventures online.   They have been kind enough to give me permission to use their photos to illustrate this article.  Crawford Priory was a real gem as it’s the sort of place that I would like to explore myself.

Crawford Priory was originally merely a hunting lodge built by the Earl of Crawford in 1756 and then completely remodelled in the then  fashionable style in the early 1800’s. Lady Mary employed well known architects of the time to create it.  She died in 1833 and was known as a reclusive, religious woman. The pet cemetery was also created by her to remind her of her favourite animals.  They flocked to her and she was frequently attended by tame foxes, birds, dogs, cats and even a pet deer.  However, I have been unable to find any images of  Lady Mary but she must have been formidable as well as kind. There is a tombstone near the outer wall of the Priory dedicated to a pet deer which is what caught my attention and intrigued me enough to research further.

Lady Mary lived alone, except for her servants, and administered a large country estate as well as the Priory.  This included limestone kilns, coal mines and farms amongst other business interests.  This was remarkable in the 19th century for a woman alone.

This keen business sense and her managerial abilities led to Lady Mary being regarded as odd and her obituary, according to alex cochrane’s blog, considered her eccentricities as

‘lean’d to the virtue’s side for  the cause of humanity .’’

Also, according to adcochrane, a distant relative of the family, quotes from one of Lady Mary#s letters on his blog, in which she says:

‘this hall is raised under bad and awful auspices ‘

and then goes onto to describe how her dog:

‘howled in the most dreadful manner in the next room to the new building…yet in spite of its cries would not leave the dining-room’

It sounds like a page from a Gothic novel as the heroine eats her dinner at a candle-lit dining table while her dog howls and the wind picks up speed around the battlements.

Lady Mary left generous bequests to the local poor, friends, servants and her animals. The Priory then came into the possession of the Earls of Glasgow and the Cochranes   The photos on adcochrane’s blog and now in the possession of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (rcahms for short) reveal how lavishly decorated The Priory’s interior was:

The grand hall was magnificently decorated with fan vaulting and hanging pendants; suits of armour stood under canopied gothic niches; medieval style stained glass lit the hall. The drawing room and morning room opened off a rib vaulted chamber decorated with gargoyles, both with gothic fireplaces inlayed with coloured marbles. The principal staircase…was decorated with gilded armorial panels and armorial stained glass of the Earls of Glasgow.” adcochrane

ADcochrane also goes onto recall that

‘The grand bedroom was hung with panels of wallpaper depicting the life of Psyche from the ancient Latin story by Apuleius.’

He adds that in 1990 a lot of the internal decoration was still there but now it’s all gone.  Even the sweeping staircase has finally collapsed.  To see archive photos of the Priory in its glamorous heyday please visit his blog:

https://adcochrane.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/crawford-priory-riddle-of-a-ruin/

Eventually the Priory became just too expensive to maintain like many country houses.  They usually required a retinue of servants to maintain them and after the Second World War these were in short supply. Adcochrane adds that both his godfather and cousin remembered exploring huge unused rooms and clambering about dusty piles of trunks.

In the 1960’s the Prior needed an expensive and major restoration but this never happened.   No use has been found for it since and so it was left to lie empty until it fell into its current state.

If Lady Mary does walk in her wood and the Priory grounds then one hopes that she sees the Priory as it was and not how it is now.

© Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated.

References

https://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/rural-sites/35632-crawford-priory-revisit-scotland-october-2017-a.html

Helen Grant FB page

http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk

 

 

It’s in front of you! The Chaldon Doom painting is on youtube

Happy 2020!

 

The Chaldon Doom – Pinterest

 

Welcome to a new year and a short piece on how part of one of my blog posts became part of a youtube film.

I have to say that, after a cursory glance,  that ‘Look it’s behind you! The Chaldon Doom painting’’is undoubtedly my most popular post with 4,205 views since it’s publication in 2018.   It was a post about what may the oldest wall painting in England which is on the back wall of the church of St Peter and St Paul in Chaldon, Surrey.  This is an out of the way place as there’s no real village there.  But the church is very picturesque and popular as a destination for walkers especialluy during the summer when there is cake and tea on sale on Sunday afternoons.

The actual title of the painting is the Purgatorial Ladder and was painted in order to instruct the congregation to live a righteous life. After death they were either destined for heaven or hell depending on if they had lived a righteous life. It’s an impressive piece and I did wonder how it might have felt when praying or listening to a sermon with the painting and its angels and demons behind you.

A man called,Richard Gandon from a film company called Eyedears contacted me last year as he’d created an animated explanation of the Chaldon Doom and posted it on youtube.  He asked for permission to use my introduction from my blog post on the painting with accreditation.  It is a short and accessible explanation of the painting’s elements such as the Seven Deadly Sins  and well worth a look at.

The link is: https://youtu.be/_lUW8ThhxL4

Let me or Richard know what you think!

© Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated.

Symbol(s) of the Month – A quiver of Arrows and garland of oak leaves

A closer view of the two symbols – the bow and quiver of arrows and the oak leaves. Note the acorn.
©Carole Tyrrell

A country churchyard on a warm, sunny May day can be a peaceful and interesting place to explore. All Saints churchyard in Staplehurst is one of those as it looks down over the village from its hilltop perch.

I have already discussed one of the symbols that I found in there which featured in a an earlier Symbol of the Month. This was ‘The Choice’ which I found in the older part of the churchyard.  After exploring the newer part of the churchyard and seeing ‘nature’s lawnmowers’ aka sheep in the field behind I returned to the older section.  I then discovered this headstone with a combination of two symbols on it.

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that this is the grave of a warrior or someone involved in warfare as the combination is formed from a bow, a quiver of arrows and a circlet of oak leaves.  The bow and arrows are a symbol that has been known for centuries and since the earliest times has been associated with hunting and survival.

The headstone is dedicated to Edwin Fitch who died at the fairly young age of 43 on 22 January 1869. The epitaph goes on to state that Edwin left behind a widow and two children; Marianne and Walter William.  There is also another inscription above it that states that the stone was erected as a mark of respect by the Staplehurst Cricket Club.

The epitaph to Edwin Fitch in Staplehurst churchyard.
©Carole Tyrrell

But, as with most symbols, there are other meanings and I am indebted to theartofmourning blog for reminding me of these.   For, although a cricket field can occasionally turn into a polite and gentlemanly battlefield, I was sure that there were softer connotations to the bow and quiver.

The other most obvious interpretation is of Cupid shooting his arrows of love straight to a lover’ s heart. Indeed, he is traditionally portrayed holding a bow with an arrow ready to aim and fire. There are also the famous lines in William Blake’s poem, ‘Jerusalem’:

‘Bring me my bow of burning gold

Bring me my arrows of desire.’

There is also a Biblical link with children. In Psalms 127:3-5 children are described as being:

‘Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

I interpret this to mean that a man’s children will continue his family line and achieve their place in the world.

The oak leaves underneath the quiver and bow are an ancient symbol of strength and the oak was known as the tree of life in pre-Christian times. According to memorials.com it is believed to have been the tree from which Christ’s cross was made.

Close-up of the acorn featured on the Fitch headstone.
©Carole Tyrrell

An acorn is also depicted on the headstone which emphasises immortality and fertility.  There is the old saying  ‘ Mighty oaks from little acorns do grow’  and this may be a reference to Edwin’s children and his hopes they would go onto do great things.  An acorn is the seed of the oak and so is a symbol of potential.

 

Edwin had an untimely death and we don’t know if he, his family or members of the Cricket Club chose the symbols.  But I believe that it was a final message from him to his family that he left behind and that this thoughts were of hope.

There is also a small verse underneath the epitaph:

‘My wife and children dear I bid you all adieu,

By God’s commands I leave this world and you

And trust my friends whom I have left behind

May give you comfort, and to you be kind.’

In this Edwin clearly hopes that his friends will support his family after he has gone. The Fitch family may have been in financial straits with the death of Edwin as the Cricket Club provided the headstone.

I have found out more about Edwin and his family.  He married Maria Wickings on 9 September 1852 and they had three children together.

  • Marianne born in 1853
  • Walter William born in 1855
  • Charles born in 1858

Sadly, Charles appears to have been stillborn or may have died in childbirth as he was born and christened on the same day and is not recorded on Edwin’s epitaph. Marianne followed her father to the grave in 1875 aged just 22.

I have approached the existing Staplehurst Cricket Club for further information on Edwin but the present club has only been in existence since the 1950’s.  They thought that Edwin might have been the very first member but are undertaking further research.  One current member thought that there might have been a private Staplehurst Cricket Club associated with the nearby Iden Manor.

This is now a nursing home but was once the house of the Hoare banking family. There are members of this family buried in the churchyard.  In 1904 they sold the manor due to impending bankruptcy and they were well known in the area for holding cricket and football matches, flower shows and other events for the village.

Finally, I think that this is a poignant combination of symbols that left a powerful and comforting message to his family.  A man whose last thoughts may have been of his family and now lies under the green canopy of the tall trees of Staplehurst churchyard with his beloved daughter.

 

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

References and further reading:

https://artofmourning.com/2011/01/09/symbolism-sunday-the-arrow-and-quiver/

https://www.memorials.com/Headstones-Symbolism-information.php

https://stoneletters.com/blog/gravestone-symbols

http://headstonesymbols.co.uk/headstone-meanings-and-symbols/acorn/

http://www.thecemeteryclub.com/symbols.html

http://www.staplehurstsociety.org

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54684/jerusalem-and-did-those-feet-in-ancient-time

https://biblehub.com/kjv/psalms/127.htm

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+127%3A3-5&version=NIV

http://mlesdes.eklablog.com/england-s-national-symbols-free-article-a92748989

 

 

Another afternoon with the dead and famous – a visit to St Pancras Old Church and churchyard Part 3

Part 3 The Man Who Never Was, Bach, Beatles and a man (or woman) ahead of their time)

he Coroner;s Court behind the churchyard under which 7000 bodies were interred.
©Carole Tyrrell

The Coroner’s Court is situated at the rear of the churchyard and, according to Lester,  7000 bodies had been re-interred beneath it. He hinted at a connection between it and The Man Who Never Was.

This was a Second World War ruse called Operation Mincemeat.  A cadaver was obtained and dressed up to become a Major William Martin, R N and put into the sea near Huelva, Spain.  A briefcase was attached to the body which contained fake papers which falsely stated that the Allied attack would be against Sardinia and Greece instead of Sicily which was the actual point of invasion. When the body was found, the Spanish Intelligence service passed copies of the papers to their German counterparts who in  turn passed them onto their High Command. It was  very successful  as the Germans still believed that Sardinia and Greece were the targets weeks after the landings in Sicily had begun. But the true identity of The Man Who Never Was has never been revealed although there have been several theories. BBC Radio’s The Goon Show which was hugely popular in the 1950’s were fascinated by it and The Man Who Never Was featured in several episodes.

In 1968 The Beatles needed some new publicity photos and so they embarked on a Mad Day Out in London.  Don, now Sir, McCullin accompanied them as photographer.  St Pancras church and churchyard were one of the locations they visited much to the delight of local residents. There are many photos of the day online and this is the very bench on which they sat in these photos.  It’s amazing to look at the photos now as they look so spontaneous and not part of a publicity machine. It’s a step back in time when stars were more accessible.

Nearby is the memorial stone to the English Bach, Johann Christian Bach(1735-1762).

He is also known as the  ‘London’ Bach and was the eighteenth (!) child of Johann Sebastian Bach and the youngest of his eleven sons. He moved to London in 1762and premiered 2 operas at The Kinds Theatre which established his reputation.  Queen Charlotte employed him as her music master and  in 1766 he married a much younger singer, Cecelia Grassi,  but the union was childless.  Bach’s symphonies and concertos were very popular in fashionable London circles but by the late 1770’s his fortunes had reversed. After his death on New Year’s Day 1782, Queen Charlotte had to cover his estate’s expenses and to provide a pension for his widow after his steward had embezzled his money.

Lester said that the memorial stone moves around a lot but not whether it was of its own volition…..

But towering over it is the Burdett-Coutts Memorial sundial. This impressive and attractive, in my opinion, structure was built during 1877-79.  It’s very High Victorian Gothic and could be seen in some people’s eyes as a Marmite construction in that you either loathe or love it.  The sundial is also known as an obelisk and it was created as a memorial to the people buried near the church whose graves were disturbed by the Midland rail works. It comprises of a tall square tower in a Gothic style with a tall Portland stone pinnacle bearing a sundial. Columns of pink and grey granite support it and are on either side of four inscribed marble plaques, These are topped by a Gothic arch and relief sculptures of St Giles and St Pancras.  The steps are decorated with mosaic panels featuring flowers, butterflies and the sun.  There are also animal sculptures at each of the four corners of the enclosure surrounding the sundial.

Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts (1814 -1906) was a wealthy philanthropist who inherited her grandfather’s huge fortune. It was £1.8 million at the time but in modern terms is now roughly £160,000,000.

Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett Coutts (1814-1906)
Painter unknown. Shared under Wiki Creative Commons

The Baroness was always unconventional. She fended off fortune hunters and instead gave practical help to the East End’s poor. It has been said that Coutts is Cockney slang for ‘boots.’  Angela worked with Dickens to set up a home and rescue centre for prostitutes and ‘fallen women’ in London’s Shepherds Bush. A significant patron to artists and actors, the RSPCA and many other causes.

After inheriting Holly Lodge in Highgate, her grandfather’s mansion, she created the nearby Holly Village in 1865 for her staff. These are Gothic style houses set around a village green and are now very sought after. In 1881, the Baroness married her 29 year old American secretary, William Ashmead, when she was 67.   The Baroness was buried in Westminster Abbey after dying aged 92 in 102.  As the saying goes, her works live on in her name.

But there is a name on one of the plaques who also defied conventional and was ahead of his, or her, time.

This was the Chevalier d’Eon (1728-1810) a transgender person who moved in high circles in France and Britain during the 18th century.  The Chevelier’s full name was Charles Genevieve Louis Auguste Andre Timothee d’Eon de Beaumont but Chevelier d’Eon for short. She was born a male and obtained a law degree, published books on the French tax system, was knighted and was also a celebrated fencer. What could come next?  A double life.

In public the Chevalier was a diplomat to Russia and England but in private he was employed by the most secret spy service in France.  This was the Le Secret Du Roi or the King’s Secret.  He reported directly to Louis XV and became, as a result, the temporary liaison to the English court in 1763.  When denied the permanent position he then published a book of French state secrets  which he’d collected during his spy’s life but ensuring that he kept back the most controversial.  This ensured that he remained on Louis XV’s payroll.  A tricky tactician as well and as a result he accepted political exile in England.  He became a celebrated public figure  but in 1770 a controversy began.  It was suggested that she had been born a woman but had been raised as a man in order to collect a family inheritance.  Bets were placed on the London Stock Exchange and it was suggested that she had placed some herself.  However in 1777 she was officially declared to be a woman at the age of 49. Chevalier then negotiated her return to France with the French government. She gave them the remaining incriminating documents still in her possession and agreed to publicly present as a woman for the rest of her life.

But life was dull after being a spy and diplomat and she returned to London never to leave again. But after the French Revolution she lost her pension from her days as a spy.  Despite continuing to write she lived the rest of her life in poverty.   But on her death it was finally discovered that she had been a man all along.

A final, fascinating tale of another unconventional St Pancras resident who left behind a reputation and flamboyance.

And here she lies in a London churchyard with many others who made up part of the capital’s cosmopolitan inhabitants. People who were not afraid to take risks, to go against the grain, to set in motion changes to society even though they would not live to see them.

It was quite a shock to leave St Pancras and walk up to the Euston Road and enter the teeming, bustling modern world again.

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

References and further reading:

A Walk in the Past – a churchyard tour Of St Pancras Old Church – St Pancras Old church guidebook

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Pancras_Old_Church

 http://casterbridge.blogspot.com/2009/05/levelled-churchyard.html

https://www.theflyawayamerican.com/st-pancras-old-church-london/

http://thelondondead.blogspot.com/2014/06/polly-peachum-and-black-hole-of.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wollstonecraft

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Never_Was

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Burdett-Coutts,_1st_Baroness_Burdett-Coutts

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/angela-burdett-coutts-born-london

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-incredible-chevalier-deon-who-left-france-as-a-male-spy-and-returned-as-a-christian-woman

https://www.them.us/story/chevalier-d-eon-trans-woman

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Christian_Bach

 

 

Another afternoon with the dead and famous – a visit to St Pancras Old Church and churchyard Part 2  

The Mills headstone showing the fateful words ‘Black Hole.’ Nowadays we think of Black Holes differently.
©Carole Tyrrell

Escape from the Black Hole, the inspiration for a British icon and Frankenstein

A worn and damaged headstone, with a missing top half marks the last resting place of Captain John Mills who escaped from the Black Hole of Calcutta. He was buried with his wife Isabella and her epitaph was n the missing half.  They were an interesting couple.

She was born in 1735 and became a singer of some renown. In 1760 David Garrick persuaded her to take the part of Polly Peachum in ‘The Beggar’s Opera’. But she gave up the stage to marry Capt Mills after the death of her first husband.  They spent several years in India before returning to England. She died aged 92 in London in 1802.

Lester invited us to take a closer look so we all drew closer and yes, the words Black Hole were inscribed on the remaining half of the tombstone. But what was the Black Hole?

According to The London Dead blog:

‘the Black Hole of Calcutta’ is a controversial incident of 1756 where troops of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, allegedly placed  146 British and Anglo-Indian prisoners overnight in conditions  so cramped that 123 of them died. John Zephaniah Holwell, later Governor of Bengal, was included among the prisoners….Mr Holwell, though alive, was now unconscious…carried towards a window so tha the air there, being less foul, might revive him. But each man near the window refused to give up his place, for that meant possiby giving up his life. Only one, Captain Mills, was brave enough, unselfish enough, to give way to Mr Howell.’

John Zephaniah Howell (1711-1796)
shared under Wiki Creative Commons

 

Capt Mills was obviously a courageous and compassionate man who died aged 89 on 29 July 1811.  The Scots Magazine gave him a fulsome obituary but sadly I have been unable to find a picture of him.

However, today the words ‘Black Hole’ have a somewhat different connotation and I did find myself looking for any hovering wormholes or portals.

 

 

William Jones, one of Charles Dickens schoolteachers, has a headstone here with a little plaque commemorating this fact. However, Dickens didn’t  remember Mr Jones fondly at all and based the character, Mr Creakle, from David Copperfield on him.  Dicken recalled Mr Jones as:

‘by far the most ignorant man I have ever had the pleasure to know…one of the worst tempered men that ever lived.’

 

Sir John Soane’s monument within its little enclosure is one of only 2 Grade 1 listed monument within London cemeteries. The other is Karl Marx in Highgate. Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was an architect who designed in the Neo-Classical style and his monument was heavily influenced by it.  He was the architect of the Bank of England, although little of his work there exists now, and Dulwich Picture Gallery.  However, it’s his museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields that has proved to be his lasting legacy.  It’s well worth a visit as it’s very idiosyncrastic and gives you a glimpse into Soane’s influences.

The mausoleum was erected after Soane’s wife’s death in 1815.  It contains him, one of his sons and his wife.  He was estranged from his other son.  The information board states:

‘Classical design. The central marble cube has four faces for dedicatory inscriptions, enclosed by a marble canopy suppoted on four Ionic columns, Enclosing this central structure is a small balustrade with a flight of steps down into the vault. The central domed structure influenced sIr Giles Gilbert Scott’s design of the telephone kiosk.’

The phonebox is another British institution and, although it may now be an endangered species due to mobile phones, it’s still instantly recognisable. I often see tourists posing by one. At their height there were approx 90,000 in use but this has now dropped to roughly 10,000. But redundant phone boxes can still have their uses: I have seen them used to house libraries or defibrilators.

Mary Shelley (1797-1851) author of Frankenstein
Painting by Richard Rothwell. Shared under Wiki Creative Commons

 

Mary Shelley, the writer of Frankenstein, used to walk through the churchyard with her future husband, Percy, as they discussed their elopement.  The fateful night at the Villa Diodata in Italy in 1816 not only produced Mary’s classic ‘Frankenstein’ but also ‘The Vampyr’. Its writer, John Polidori, is also buried in St Pancras. Mary’s parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft have memorials here but their remains were transferred to Bournemouth as a result of the railway works during the 19th century. We noticed the offerings placed on top of William’s monument.

Mary Wollstonecraft died 10 days after giving birth to Mary on 10 September 1797 aged 38.  This echoes one of Frankenstein’s central themes which is life from death. She was the author of one of the first feminist works, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ in 1792. The Godwins led an unconventional life and Mary had an affair with the painter Henry Fuseli. She was rediscovered as one of the great feminist icons at the turn of the 20th century.

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

References and further reading:

A Walk in the Past – a churchyard tour Of St Pancras Old Church – St Pancras Old church guidebook

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Pancras_Old_Church

http://casterbridge.blogspot.com/2009/05/levelled-churchyard.html

https://www.theflyawayamerican.com/st-pancras-old-church-london/

http://thelondondead.blogspot.com/2014/06/polly-peachum-and-black-hole-of.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wollstonecraft

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Never_Was

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Burdett-Coutts,_1st_Baroness_Burdett-Coutts

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/angela-burdett-coutts-born-london

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-incredible-chevalier-deon-who-left-france-as-a-male-spy-and-returned-as-a-christian-woman

https://www.them.us/story/chevalier-d-eon-trans-woman