The Angel of St Georges churchyard

A close-up of her calm , enigmatic face. Copyright Carole Tyrrell
A close-up of her calm , enigmatic face.
Copyright Carole Tyrrell

Although there are many beautiful, intriguing and, sometimes poignant, memorials to be found in large Victorian cemeteries you can often find them in your local churchyard as well.

My nearest one is 15 minutes walk away from my house and features this lovely angel in a quiet corner of the churchyard under the shade of a huge and spreading tree.  It is undoubtedly this little spot that has protected her as she cannot be seen by passers-by from the road or the casual stroller through the churchyard.    It’s in memory of a wife and there are no further details on the epitaph.  The date of interment is in 1905 which is the Art Nouveau period and there is a definite nuance to it in this lovely angel as she hangs poised on the cross.

There are other interesting memorials within the churchyard and I will be discussing these in a future article.  But this is the one I wanted to reveal first as she is so lovely and, as far as I know, unique.  Victorian angels in cemeteries are usually selected from a pattern book, carved and then shipped over from Italy and you will see and recognise the same variations.  You could also send a photograph and the angel’s face would be carved into a likeness of the loved one.  There is one in Nunhead Cemetery which is almost certainly carved from the life.  But I haven’t seen this particular angel before and maybe she has also been carved as a likeness of the deceased.

The epitaph reads:

‘Christian Whittingham Little

Wife of Robert little

Of Christ’s Hospital , London

Entered into rest 10 Sept 1905.

Poised on her cross, keeping watch, in a quiet corner of the churchyard Copyright Carole Tyrrell
Poised on her cross, keeping watch, in a quiet corner of the churchyard
Copyright Carole Tyrrell

Text and photos copyright Carole Tyrrell



Wildlife in cemeteries No i in a continuing series…..

As I was passing Elmers Cemetery one evening.....
As I was passing Elmers Cemetery one evening…..

There’s always squirrels in cemeteries but watch out for the ones in Brompton Cemetery, London, UK – they’re smart.  They’ll pose on a tombstone for you and then form a pincer action until you’re surrounded. Resistance is futile.   I spotted the one above on a late summer’s evening  in 2014 and liked the way that the sun shone through his tail.

Photo and text copyright Carole Tyrrell



Welcome to the darkness


Enter.  I always do.

I’ve seen more coffins than most people unless you include undertakers.  For the last 25 years I’ve been involved with cemeteries.  Firstly, as a visitor to my nearest large Victorian cemetery, Nunhead, and then as a helper on the publications stall, contributor to the quarterly journal.and finally tour guide.  My speciality is symbols.

It’s a lost language in some ways and there are often several interpretations for each one.  But more on this in future blogs.

When I visit a cemetery I don’t think ‘Oh scary place full of dead people.’  I usually think that yes, it’s a cemetery and full of dead people but people with their own stories who lived their lives and afterwards someone cared enough about them to erect a memorial, a mausoleum, a vault or just a very simple plain stone in their memory.  I often feel a lot of love in cemeteries especially when I read some of the epitaphs.. Even though the huge Victorian monuments are beyond the reach of us today we often still like to individualise our loved ones final resting place with something that was personal to them.

Death is the last great mystery.  We may not have any control over when it occurs or how.  But We are all going to die and it’s how you live your life that’s important.

In this blog I will share some of my favourite memorials, epitaphs, and photos and also reveal the hidden language of symbols.


The image above is from West Norwood Cemetery catacombs.

Photo and text copyright Carole Tyrrell