Eternally at rest amongst the sprouts and cabbages – a horse’s  tomb, Kelsey Park allotments

 

Patch’s plinth February 2017.
©Carole Tyrrell

My local allotments are very popular and there’s always half a dozen people working away and getting their hands dirty.  They’re watched closely by birds  looking for worms in the dug over soil before swooping down for their meal.   In summer the allotments burst forth with vegetables:  lines of runner beans, rows of cabbages , lettuces  and flowers and the occasional fox can be seen strolling through at dusk.

But, if you walk up the slope towards the chain link fence that divides the allotments   from the park, you’ll come to a large stone plinth at the top.  It nestles amongst the trees that have grown up around it.  On one end there is a sculpted swag containing roses for remembrance so it once had a farh more illustrious past.   I first saw the plinth from the other side of the fence while on the Kelsey park Woodland Trail looking for fungi to photograph.  I wondered what it was.   It was far too grand to be an allotment user’s display or flower pot stand. Maybe a small statue had been on top and had since disappeared as the empty pedestal was now in no man’s land. The plinth  has also puzzled and intrigued the casual passer-by, dog walker and jogger as they go past.  The local legend was that it marked the burial site of a horse which belonged to ‘one of the Burrell girls.’

But it wasn’t until I started researching this article that I managed to source a contemporary engraving of the plinth dating from the 1790’s which was entitled ‘Patch’s tomb’ that I had any evidence for the story. At last I had a name for the incumbent.  It looks very grand in the picture with an elegant urn on top which is being admired by a fashionably dressed gentleman with an equally well dressed couple nearby. The perspective looks a little strange as the tomb looks larger than the onlookers. This was a serious monument both in cost and the determination to remember Patch.  The location, on a small slope, was no idle choice and can be seen from the lakeside path 150 yards away below if you know where to look.  Trees and vegetation have grown up on the small hill obscuring the tomb so it’s much easier to see during the winter die-off.

PHLS_900 Patch’s Tomb Kelsey Park Beckenham 1790
©Bromley Historic Collections

The Burrells were a prominent, land-owning family in Beckenham during the 16th -19th centuries and some of their descendants are still in the area.   They have left a fine collection of monuments in the local church, St George’s.

 

The Burrells were also connected with Kelsey Park in Beckenham in that the site once formed part of Peter Burrell III’s 600 acre estate and it was a Burrell who built the first manor house there.  Confusingly, there were four Peter Burrells and, after exploring their various family lineage, I decided that one of Peter Burrell III’s four daughters was probably the most likely owner of Patch.  He also had a son who, strangely enough, became Peter Burrell IV but more of him later.  The third Peter Burrell (27/08/1724 – 06/11/1775) was a politician and barrister and in 1748 he married Elizabeth Lewis, daughter of John Lewis of Hackney.   There seem to be no pictures of him in existence and, instead,  photos of Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s ex-butler popped up!

Peter Burrell III was called to the bar in 1749, became MP for Launceston in Cornwall 1759-1768 and then MP for Totnes in Devon from 1774 – 1752.  In 1769 Burrell was then appointed the Surveyor General of the Land Revenues  of the Crown.  So he was an ambitious man with considerable connections and wealth.  He was also involved with other prominent local land-owning families in Beckenham such as the Cators after whom  Cator Park is named.  Burrell’s estate in Beckenham is now buried under roads and desirable detached houses with large gardens. But there is a local road called Burrell Row after the family. Peter Burrell  I purchased the first Kelsey Park House and estate in 1690.  It was extended several times as can be seen in the 1790 watercolour and then became incorporated into the far grander, rambling Victorian Scottish baronial style mansion which replaced it.  The original house was a square, modest house which had several later additions.

The first Kelsey Park Manor House in the Georgian style. A square shape so easy to incorporate into the grander mansion that replaced it. This watercolour dates from 1790 and is the believed to be the earliest known picture of the Manor House which had been extended over the centuries. Friends of Kelsey Park newsletter Summer 2008

The four daughters were:

Elizabeth Amelia (1749-1837)      –            married a gentleman from Cambridgeshire.  Richard Henry Alexander Bennett

Isabella Susanna (1750 – 1812)    –             married Algernon Percy, Ist Earl of Beverley, ancestor to the Dukes of Northumberland

Frances Juliana (1752 – 1820)       –           In 1779 she married Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of   Northumberland

Elizabeth Anne (1757 – 1837)        –              She married  twice – firstly to Douglas Hamilton, 8th Duke of  Hamilton and then secondly, to Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess of Exeter.

Marriages at that time were rarely for love but mainly for the joining of great houses, the exchange of land and also heirs. Frances had eleven children and Isabella had seven who all went onto more illustrious marriages and careers.

The Burrell girls seem to have been the ‘It’ girls of their day with their brilliant marriages into the aristocracy.  Peter Burrell IV, the son, achieved even more dizzying heights as he became the Lord Chamberlain of England and the 1st Baron Gwydir of Gwydir Castle.

Peter Burrell IV’s memorial tablet, St George’s Beckenham. Very plain in comparison to the other Peter Burrells recorded here.
©Carole Tyrrell

But it’s the eldest one, Elizabeth Amelia, who may have been Patch’s owner. Peter Burrell III built a house for her on his Kelsey estate where she lived with her husband, Richard Bennett.   He was the MP for Newport from 1770-1774 but didn’t seem to have the same illustrious career as his father-in-law and the notes on his political career are brief.   Elizabeth would have seen Patch’s last resting place from the house every day of her life as a reminder.   I haven’t been able to find a picture of Elizabeth as it would have been interesting to see what she looked like.   There’s no clue on the contemporary engraving as to the architect of the tomb and I wondered if Burrell paid for it or did Elizabeth?

So was Patch a young girl’s pet or a teenager’s source of freedom? We’ll never know and I was unable to source any pictures of Patch. It may seem strange to us to lavish such attention and money on a horse’s memorial.  But in those days a horse almost certainly gave its owner a certain amount of freedom and independence.  An earlier form of horsepower and being a good horsewoman at the time was a major attribute.

I like to think that, maybe when Kelsey Park’s closed and the lights have all gone out in the surrounding houses and apartment blocks, a spectral galloping can be heard.  A passing badger or fox may prick up their ears at the sound as a young girl shouts ‘Hi, ho Patch and awaaay!’

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

http://www.beckenhamhistory.co.uk/locations/kelseyestate

http://boroughphotos.org/bromley/category/date/1700s/page/4/

http://www.nwkfhs.org.uk/nwkfhs-01-01.pdf

http://www.beckenhamhistory.co.uk/locations/kelseyestate

http://www.london24.com/beckenham_s_kelsey_park_prepares_to_mark_100_years_of_opening_to_the_public_1_2214063

http://www.london-footprints.co.uk/artbeckestates.htm

https://laurengilbertheyerwood.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/the-infamous-mrs-drummond-burrell/

Peter Burrell IIIhttp://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1754-1790/member/burrell-peter-iii-1754-1820

Peter Burrell II http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1754-1790/member/burrell-peter-ii-1723-75

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

http://www.beckenhamplaceparkfriends.org.uk/history.html

Isabella Burrell: https://www.geni.com/people/Susannah-Countess-of-Beverley/6000000006444764952

Elizabeth image https://www.wikitree.com/photo/jpg/Burrell-883

Elizabeth info https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Burrell-1174

Richard Bennett info; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Henry_Alexander_Bennet_(senior)

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol1/pp527-550

 

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Symbol of the month – the Lamp

 

Tombstone with sculpted lamps dedicated to Marie Cordelia Winfield who died aged 19
©Carole Tyrrell

 

I was looking for butterflies, the Marbled White to be exact, on a side path in Brompton Cemetery when I found this memorial.  Should I rub one of the Aladdin style lamps and see if a genie appeared to grant me three wishes?  I was intrigued as to why they were on the stone and so began my research for this month’s symbol – The Lamp.

The grave is that of Marie Cordelia Winfield who died young at the age of 19.  There is another family member commemorated on the headstone who is called James Alfred Winfield.  But it’s very lowdown on the stone and the encroaching summer vegetation obscured it making it difficult to read.

Lamps are an unusual symbol to see in a cemetery but Light as a motif in itself has been used in many forms.  Often it’s represented by the eternal flame or a downturned/ upturned torch but lamps are rare.  Obviously now I’ve said that, I’ll see lamps in every cemetery on every tombstone but so far it’s just been this one.

The Winfield lamps appear to be oil lamps and these have been used as illumination for thousands of years. In Arabian folklore a genie’s lamp contained a magical spirit known as a djinn or genie.  This mythical being could help or hinder those who were brave enough to rub the lamp as in the story of Aladdin.

An example of an Aladdin Lamp.

In this story the lamp was seen as a gateway to another world of mystery and other gods.  The symbol of the lamp was later adopted by Christianity as many pagan motifs were and it came to symbolise Jesus as the ‘light of the world’.  There is a famous passage in the New Testament in Matthew 25:1-13 of the parable of the 10 virgins:

‘Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

                                                                            King James version

 There are several other references to lamps in Matthew 6:22-23, Revelation 22:5 and also John 5:35 in which John the Baptist is described as

he was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.’

And let’s not forget God appearing to Moses in the burning bush.  There is also a famous quotation from Psalms 119:105:

‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.’

The lamp as a representation of God and faith appears in other religions including the Jewish Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights and also Diwali which is the Hindu Festival of Lights.  Judaism sees lamps as a way of lighting the way for the righteous and the wise.  This is represented by the seven branched ritual Jewish oil lamp which is known as a menorah.  Lamps are also an integral part of the Orthodox and other Eastern Catholic churches as they are used on the Holy Table or altar and also to illuminate icons.  In Chinese religions an oil lamp is always lit at traditional Chinese shrines before either an image of a deity or a plaque in classical Chinese characters with the name of the deity.  Lamps also feature in the Koran. There is also a strong element of self-sacrifice associated with the lamp as it consumes itself in order to bring light to the world.

There is long tradition of lamps representing purity and virginity as well as love. So it’s highly appropriate for the Winfield tombstone which is dedicated to a young girl.  When I looked more closely at the Winfield memorial I noticed that both of the lamps were pointing towards the cross in the centre with what I presumed were the rays of the sun coming from behind it almost like a halo. The lamps are obviously lit as fumes are coming from their spouts and, to me, they seemed to be illuminating the way through eternal darkness towards the light of a new life.  I thought that it would have been comforting to those left behind to mourn the loss of a daughter who had been taken too soon. As the epitaph says:

Greatly loved and sadly missed.’

However,  as I explored further in Brompton I noticed actual lamps placed on top of graves or alongside them.  These were mainly on the graves of Polish people.

In Poland, there is a long tradition of lighting lamps and candles on their All Saints’ Day which is held on November 1st each year.  This is the day before the Christian festival of All Souls Day which is traditionally held on November 2nd.   I visited Brompton Cemetery on November 1st 2015 and witnessed the local Polish community’s celebration of All Saints with lit tea candles and lamps on top of Polish and non-Polish graves alike. The lights were again being used as a way to help the souls of the departed on their way and so the tradition continues.

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A1-13&version=KJV

http://www.biblemeanings.info/Words/Artifact/Lamp.htm

http://culture.polishsite.us/articles/art10fr.htm

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

A murder in Brompton Cemetery! Wildlife in Cemeteries no 5

 

 

An ominous gathering of crows and possible juveniles on 21 May 2017..
©Carole Tyrrell

On a recent visit to Brompton Cemetery to research animals on memorials my companion and I decided to explore a side path to find examples.  On a corner where it met another side path we suddenly saw a very large gathering of crows perched on various tombstones, graves and memorials.  There were so many that passers-by were stopping to look and take photos.  My photo doesn’t do the scene justice as I couldn’t fit all the crows that were actually there in the picture.

Brompton’s crows have always been known for their photogenic and obliging qualities by posing on a nearby tombstone in suitably Gothic fashion but I’ve never seen that many gathered together in one place.

A group of crows is known as ‘a murder of crows’ and it only takes 2 crows to make one of these.

The phrase however, appears to date from the late Middle Ages and comes from the Book of Saint Albans or The Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing of Arms, which was published in 1486.  This is a compendium of items for gentlemen of the time and had an appendix which consisted of a large list of collective nouns for animals.  These were known as ‘company terms’ or the’ terms of hunting’.  These include familiar ones such as ‘a gaggle of geese’ amongst other colourful and poetic names such as ‘a skulk of foxes’ or ‘an ostentation of peacocks’.  There were also collective nouns for various professions such as ‘a melody of harpers’ etc.  The ones that have survived to this day derive from this book include ‘a subtlety of sergeants’ and also ‘a murder of crows’.  A crow gathering has often been the subject of folk tales and superstition and amongst these is the claim that crows will gather and decide the fate of another crow.

There are also other traditions, which considering that this was happening within a large London cemetery, are worth quoting ,

 ‘Many view the appearance of crows as an omen of death because ravens and crows are scavengers and are generally associated with dead bodies, battlefields, and cemeteries, and they’re thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people are expected to soon die.’

Romain Bouchard, Etymology nerd

However, there are birdwatchers who insist that a group of crows should be known as a flock of crows and not a ‘murder’ so the jury’s out on that term.

A Facebook friend identified some of the crows as juveniles by the white patches on their breasts who may have just left the nest and are with their parents.  The adults will defend their youngsters very aggressively. Crows are very social, live in tight knit families and they mate for life.  They can roost in huge numbers of up to 1000+ as protection from other predators.  Crows are also highly intelligent and have a repertoire of at least 250 different calls.  A distress call will bring other crows to their aid   as crows will defend other unrelated crows. A crow’s black plumage have led to them being associated with death and they are members of the Corvidae family which includes magpies and ravens. They are predators and scavengers and will eat virtually anything including roadkill, snakes, mice, eggs and nestlings of other birds amongst other delicacies. I often see crows inspecting the contents of large waste bins at supermarkets or communal litter bins and have seen them take young ducklings in a flash.

A couple of minutes after I took this photo the entire gathering took flight and scattered and I felt very privileged to have seen it at all.

©Text and photo Carole Tyrrell

Reference:

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-a-group-of-crows-called-a-murder

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/a-murder-of-crows-crow-facts/5965/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Carole Tyrrell