In Search Of Gravestones Old And Curious
W.T. (William Thomas) Vincent

Part 2 out of 3

the odour of the place was beyond description. In the words of Edmund
Burke: "I would rather sleep in the southern corner of a country
churchyard than in the tomb of the Capulets."]

[Footnote 5: Weever's "Funeral Monuments," A.D. 1631.]

And there was a danger to be encountered far later than that which
was due to the anti-Popery zealots of the Tudor dynasty. On the
introduction of the Commonwealth there arose such a crusade against
all forms and emblems of doctrinal import as to affect not only the
ornaments of the churches, but the gravestones in the churchyards,
many of which were removed and put to other uses or sold. The
Puritans, as is well known, went to the extremity of abolishing all
ceremony whatever at the Burial of the Dead.[6] The beautiful Service
in the Book of Common Prayer, now used more or less by all the
Reformed Christian denominations of England, was abolished by
Parliament in 1645--that and the Prayer Book together at one stroke.
In lieu of the Prayer Book a "Directory" was issued on the conduct of
public worship, in which it was said:

[Footnote 6: There does not appear to have been any form of prayer for
the dead prior to the issue of Gaskell's "Prymer" in 1400. The Service
now in use dates from 1611.]

"Concerning Burial of the Dead, all customs of praying, reading, and
singing, both in going to or from the grave, are said to have been
greatly abused. The simple direction is therefore given, that when
any person departeth this life, let the body upon the day of burial
be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for public
burial, and there immediately interred without any ceremony."

Penalties were at the same time imposed for using the Book of Common
Prayer in any place of worship or in any private family within the
kingdom--the fine being L5 for a first offence, L10 for a second, and
a year's imprisonment for the third.

The Puritans, however, are to be thanked for stopping the then common
practice of holding wakes and fairs in the churchyards--a practice
traceable no doubt to the celebration of Saints' Days in the churches,
and for that reason suppressed as remnants of Popery in 1627-31.

It need not be said that the Burial Service and the Prayer Book
came back with the Restoration, but the discontinuance of fairs in
churchyards seems to have been permanent. Many instances, however,
have occurred in later years of desecration by pasturing cattle in the
churchyards,[7] and offences of this nature have been so recent that
the practice cannot be said with confidence to have even now entirely
ceased. But we return to the gravestones.

[Footnote 7: At the Archbishop's Court at Colchester in 1540 it was
reported that at a certain church "the hogs root up the graves and
beasts lie in the porch."]

From one cause or another it is pretty certain that for every old
gravestone now to be seen twenty or more have disappeared.

In Gough's "Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain" many instances are
given of the wanton and wholesale destruction of church and churchyard
memorials, even late in the eighteenth century. In some cases the
church officers, as already stated, gave public notice prior to
removal of gravestones, in order that persons claiming an interest
in the remains might repair and restore them; but more frequently the
stones were cleared away and destroyed, or put somewhere out of sight
without observation. Sometimes this was the act of the Rector; at
other times individuals, exercising rights of ownership, have done the
disgraceful work, and occasionally the whole of the parishioners have
been implicated. Gough says that the inhabitants of Letheringham in
Suffolk, being under the necessity of putting their church into decent
order, chose to rebuild it, and sold the whole fabric, monuments and
all, to the building contractor, who beat the stones to powder, and
sold as much at three shillings a pound for terrace (?) as came to
eighty guineas. A portion of the fragments was rescued by the Rev.
Mr. Clubbe, and erected in form of a pyramid in the vicarage garden of
Brandeston, in the same county, with this inscription:

[Transcriber's note: the following is enclosed in a narrow border]

Indignant Reader!
These monumental remains are not, as thou
mayest suppose, the
Ruins of Time,
But were destroyed in an
Irruption of the Goths
So late in the Christian era as 1789.
Credite Posteri!



That the state of the old churchyards in this country, down to the
middle of the nineteenth century, was a public scandal and disgrace,
is a remark which applies especially to London, where burial-grounds,
packed full of human remains, were still made available for
interments on a large scale until 1850 or later. The fact was the more
discreditable in contrast with the known example of Paris, which had,
as early as 1765, closed all the city graveyards, and established
cemeteries beyond the suburbs. One of the laws passed at the same time
by the Parliament of Paris directed that the graves in the cemeteries
should not be marked with stones, and that all epitaphs and
inscriptions should be placed on the walls, a regulation which appears
to have been greatly honoured in the breach. In 1776 Louis XVI.,
recognizing the benefit which Paris had derived from the city decree,
prohibited graveyards in all the cities and towns of France, and
rendered unlawful interments in churches and chapels; and in 1790
the National Assembly passed an Act commanding that all the old
burial-grounds, even in the villages, should be closed, and others
provided at a distance from habitations.[8] Other States of Europe
took pattern by these enlightened proceedings, and America was not
slow in making laws upon the subject; but Great Britain, and its worst
offender, London, went on in the old way, without let or hindrance,
until 1850, For fifteen years prior to that date there had been in
progress an agitation against the existing order of things, led by Dr.
G.A. Walker, a Drury Lane surgeon, living in a very nest of churchyard
fevers, who wrote a book and several pamphlets, delivered public
lectures, and raised a discussion in the public press. The London City
Corporation petitioned Parliament in 1842 for the abolition of burials
within the City, and a Select Committee of the House of Commons was at
once entrusted with an enquiry on the subject.

[Footnote 8: In France in 1782-3, in order to check the pestilence,
the remains of more than six millions of people were disinterred from
the urban churchyards and reburied far away from the dwelling-places.
The Cemetery of Pere la Chaise was a later creation, having been
consecrated in 1804.]

The following were the official figures shewing the burials in the
London district[9] from 1741 to 1837, and it was asserted that many
surreptitious interments were unrecorded:

From 1741 to 1765 588,523

" 1766 to 1792 605,832

" 1793 to 1813 402,595

" 1814 to 1837 508,162

Total 2,105,112

In the same year (1842) a Export was presented to Parliament by the
Select Committee on "The Improvement of the Health of Towns," and
especially on "The Effect of the Interment of Bodies in Towns." Its
purport may be summed up in the following quotation:

"The evidence ... gives a loathsome picture of the unseemly and
demoralizing practices which result from the crowded condition of the
existing graveyards--practices which could scarcely have been thought
possible in the present state of society.... We cannot arrive at any
other conclusion than that the nuisance of interments in great towns
and the injury arising to the health of the community are fully

[Footnote 9: London was much increased in area by the passing of Sir
Benjamin Hall's "Metropolis Local Management Act of 1849."]

Among the witnesses examined were Sir Benjamin Brodie and Dr. G.R.

In 1846 a Bill was prepared to deal with the matter, but it was not
until 1850 that an Act was passed "To make better provision for
the Interment of the Dead in and near the Metropolis." Powers were
conferred upon the General Board of Health to establish cemeteries or
enlarge burial-grounds, and an Order in Council was made sufficient
for closing any of the old churchyards either wholly or with
exceptions to be stipulated in the order. One month's notice was all
that was needed to set the Act in operation, and in urgent cases seven
days; but it was found necessary in 1851 to pass another Act for the
purpose of raising funds; and in 1852 a more stringent Act was put
upon the Statute Book to deal summarily with the churchyards. This
was, in the the following session, extended to England and Wales, the
General Board of Health having reported strongly in favour of a scheme
for "Extra-mural Sepulture" in the country towns, declaring that the
graveyards of these places were in no better condition than those of

Consequently, in the years which followed 1850, a general closing
of churchyards took place throughout the Metropolis, and to a lesser
extent throughout the kingdom, and an active crusade against all
similar burial-grounds was instituted, which may be said to be still
in operation. The substitution of new cemeteries in remote and mostly
picturesque places was of immediate advantage in many ways, but it
did little or nothing to remedy the dilapidated appearance of the old
graveyards, which indeed, now that they brought in no revenues, became
in many cases painfully neglected, dejected, and forlorn. Happily, in
1883, the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association was established,
and its influence has been very marked in the improvement of the
old enclosures and their conversion into recreation grounds. The
Metropolitan Board of Works, the London County Council, the City
Corporation, public vestries, and private persons, have shared in
the good work, but the chief instrument has been the Public Gardens

Of old burial-grounds now open as public gardens in the London
district there are more than a hundred. Care is always taken to
preserve the sacred soil from profane uses, games being prohibited,
and the improvements confined to paths and seats, levelling the ground
and planting with trees and flowers. The gravestones, though removed
to the sides of the enclosure, are numbered and scheduled, and all in
which any living person can claim an interest are left untouched. No
stones are ever destroyed in the process of reformation, but previous
ill-usage and natural decay have rendered very many of them illegible,
and in another century or so all these once fond memorials will
probably have become blank and mute.

To the middle of the nineteenth century may also be assigned the
change which we now see in the character of our gravestones. Quite
in the beginning of the century the vulgar and grotesque carvings and
Scriptural barbarisms of the eighteenth century had given place to a
simple form of memorial in which it was rare to find the least effort
at ornament; but, as soon as the Burial Acts were passed and the old
churchyards were succeeded by the new cemeteries, the tasteful and
elegant designs which are to be seen in every modern burial-ground
were introduced, founded in great measure upon the artistic drawings
of Mr. D.A. Clarkson, whose manifold suggestions, published in 1852,
are still held in the highest admiration.



Mankind in all ages and in all places has recognized the sanctity
of the burial-place. Among the New Zealanders, when they were first
revealed to Europeans as savages, the place of interment was _tapu_,
or holy. The wild and warlike Afghanistans have also a profound
reverence for their burial-grounds, which they speak of expressively
as "cities of the silent." Among the Turks the utmost possible respect
is paid to the resting-places of the dead, and nowhere, perhaps (says
Mrs. Stone in "God's Acre"), are the burial-places so beautiful.
The great and increasing size of Turkish cemeteries is due to the
repugnance of the people to disturbing the soil where once a body has
been laid. The Chinese and the inhabitants of the Sunda Isles
(says the authority just quoted) seem to vie with each other in the
reverence with which they regard the burial-places of their ancestors,
which almost invariably occupy the most beautiful and sequestered
sites. The graves are usually overgrown with long grasses and
luxuriantly flowering plants. In like manner the Moors have a
particular shrub which overspreads their graves, and no one is
permitted to pluck a leaf or a blossom.

The simple Breton people are deeply religious, and their veneration
for the dead is intense. They are frequently to be seen--men, women,
and children--kneeling on the ground in their churchyards, praying
among the graves. It may therefore be well believed that in the period
of burial reform which overspread the Continent in the earlier part of
the nineteenth century there was great opposition in Brittany to the
establishment of remote cemeteries. The thought of burying elsewhere
than in the parish churchyard was to the minds of the parishioners a
species of impiety. When reasoned with they would answer:

"Our fathers were buried here, and you would separate us from our
dead. Let us be buried here, where our kinsfolk can see our graves
from their windows, and the children can come at evening to pray."

In vain they were shewn the danger of accumulating corpses in a place
which was usually in the centre of the population. They shook their
heads and cried:

"Death comes only by the will of God."

Possibly, to some extent, this feeling is universal among mankind.
There is in our hearts an innate reverence for the burial-place; we
tread by instinct lightly over the sleeping-places of the dead, and
look with silent awe upon their tombs. The feeling being part of our
humanity, we might suppose it to be universal, and be apt to conclude
that, in our more primitive churchyards at least, we should find some
effort to preserve the whole or a large proportion of the memorials
which are there dedicated to departed merit, hallowed by love and
made sacred by sorrow. But it may truthfully be said that of all the
headstones (not to speak alone of _decorated_ headstones) which were
set up prior to the beginning of the nineteenth century, by far the
greater number have disappeared! Indeed the cases in which the old
churchyards have been the objects of any care whatever are lamentably
few, while attempts to preserve the old gravestones are almost
unknown. The ordinary experience is to find the churchyard more or
less neglected and forgotten, and the grey and aged stones either
sinking into the earth or tottering to their fall. It cannot be
imagined that the clergy, the wardens, and the sextons have failed to
see these things; but they have, presumedly, more pressing matters
to attend to, and it seems to be nobody's business to attend to such
ownerless and worthless objects.

Some gravediggers will tell you that the natural destiny of the
gravestone is the grave! They will shew you the old fellows slowly
descending into the ground, and they have heard the parson say
perhaps that the "trembling of the earth" will in time shake them all
inevitably out of sight. I have heard it mentioned as an article of
belief among sextons that a hundred years is the fair measure of a
head-stone's "life" above ground, but this reckoning is much too short
for the evidences, and makes no allowance for variable circumstances.
In some places, Keston for instance, the church is founded upon a bed
of chalk, and out of the chalk the graves are laboriously hewn. It is
obvious therefore that the nature of the soil, as it is yielding or
impervious, must be a prime factor in the question of survival. It
may be granted, however, that our progenitors in selecting their
burial-grounds had the same preference for a suitable site as we have
in our own day, and, notwithstanding exceptions which seem to shew
that the church and not the churchyard was the one thing thought of,
the law of a light soil for interments is sufficiently regular to give
us an average duration of a gravestone's natural existence. The term
"natural" will apply neither to those fortunate ones whose lives are
studiously prolonged, nor of course to the majority whose career is
wilfully, negligently, or accidentally shortened. But that, under
ordinary circumstances, the stones gradually sink out of sight, and
at a certain rate of progression, is beyond a doubt. Two illustrations
may help the realization of this fact, such as may be seen in hundreds
of our churchyards.

[Illustration: FIG. 80. BETHNAL GREEN.

Illustration: FIG. 81. PLUMSTEAD.


The sketch of Bethnal Green (Fig. 80) was made just as the churchyard
was about to undergo a healthy conversion, and it marks a very long
period of inaction.

The Plumstead case (Fig. 81), though less extreme, is even more
informing, as it seems to measure the rate at which the disappearance
goes on; the dates on the three stones coinciding accurately with
their comparative depths in the ground. Whether the motion of the
earth has any influence in this connection need not now be discussed,
because the burying of the gravestones may be accounted for in a
simple and feasible manner, without recourse to scientific argument.
It is undoubtedly the burrowing of the worms, coupled with the wasting
action of rain and frost, which causes the phenomenon. Instead,
however, of the sexton's supposititious century, the period required
for total disappearance may more accurately be regarded as from 200
to 250 years. It has been found by careful observation in a few random
cases that the stones subside at the rate of about one foot in forty
or fifty years, and, as their ordinary height is from 5 feet to 5 feet
6 inches, we can readily tell, providing the rate rules evenly,
the date when any particular stone may be expected to vanish. In
confirmation of this theory is the fact that scarcely any headstones
are discoverable of a date earlier than 1650, and whenever they have
been left to their fate the veterans of 150 years have scarcely more
than their heads above ground. Wherever we find otherwise, it may be
assumed that conscientious church officers or pious parishioners have
bethought them of the burial-ground, lifted up the old stones and set
them once more on their feet. Of recent years there has grown up and
been fostered a better feeling for the ancient churchyards, and the
ivy-clad churches of Hornsey and Hendon may be cited as examples
familiar to Londoners in which the taste engendered by a beautiful
edifice has influenced for good its surroundings. In both churchyards
are many eighteenth-century stones in excellent preservation. Neither
place, however, has yet been "restored" or "reformed" in the modern
sense, and there is no reason why it should be. In many places, as the
town grows and spreads, it is well to convert the ancient graveyard
into a public garden, so that it be decently and reverently done. But
this ought never to be undertaken needlessly or heedlessly. There are
scruples of individuals to be regarded, and a strong case ought always
to exist before putting into effect such a radical change. But it
usually happens that transformation is the only remedy, and nothing
short of a thorough reaction will rescue God's Acre from the ruin and
contempt into which it has fallen. Yet we should ever remember that,
whatever we may do to the surface, it is still the place where our
dead fathers rest.

"Earth to earth and dust to dust,
Here lie the evil and the just,
Here the youthful and the old,
Here the fearful and the bold,
Here the matron and the maid,
In one silent bed are laid."

The utilitarian impulse, though frequently blamed for the
"desecration" of our churchyards, is really less accountable for these
conversions than the culpable neglect which in too many cases has
forced the only measure of correction. Therefore they who would
keep the sacred soil unmolested should take heed that it be properly
maintained. A churchyard is in hopeful case when we see the mounds
carefully levelled, the stones set up in serried ranks, and the turf
between rolled smooth and trimmed and swept. There is no outrage in
levelling the ground. The Christian feeling which clings to the grave,
and even to the gravestone, does not attach to the mound of earth
which is wrongly called the grave. This mound is not even a Christian
symbol. It is a mere survival of Paganism, being a small copy of
the barrow or tumulus, of which we have specimens still standing in
various parts of our islands and the Continent, to mark the sepulchres
of prehistoric and possibly savage chieftains. No compunction should
be, and probably none is, suffered when we remove the grave-mounds,
which is indeed the first essential to the protection and
beautification of an obsolete burial-place. But, if possible, let the
churchyard remain a churchyard; for, of all the several methods
which are usually resorted to for "preservation," the best from the
sentimental view is that which keeps the nearest to the first intent.
There can be no disputing that a churchyard is in its true aspect
when it looks like a churchyard, providing it be duly cared for. Some
persons of practical ideas will, however, favour such improvements as
will banish the least elegant features of the place and range the
more sightly ones midst lawns and flowers; while others, still more
thorough, will be satisfied with nothing short of sweeping away all
traces of the graves, and transforming the whole space at one stroke
into a public playground. The choice of systems is in some degree a
question of environment. Wherever open ground is needed for the health
and enjoyment of dwellers in towns, it is now generally conceded that,
with certain reservations and under reasonable conditions, disused
churchyards--especially such as are neglected and deformed--shall in
all possible cases be transferred from the closed ledger of the dead
to the current account of the living.

The following lines, which were written upon the restoration of
Cheltenham Churchyard, may be applied to most of such instances:

"Sleep on, ye dead!
'Tis no rude hand disturbs your resting-place;
But those who love the spot have come at length
To beautify your long-neglected homes.
How loud ye have been speaking to us all!
But the mammon and the fading pleasures
Of this busy world hath made us deaf.

* * * Forgive the past!
Henceforth flowers shall bloom upon the surface
Of your dwellings. The lilac in the spring
Shall blossom, and the sweet briar shall exhale
Its fragrant smell. E'en the drooping fuchsia
Shall not be wanting to adorn your tombs;
While the weeping willow, pointing downwards,
Speaks significantly to the living,
That a grave awaits us all."

[Illustration: FIG. 82. CHESHUNT.]

[Illustration: FIG. 83. HATFIELD.]

But in rural spots, where there is abundance of room and almost
superfluity of nature, a well-kept churchyard, with all its venerable
features, studiously protected and reverently cared for, is one of the
best inheritances of a country life. Illustrations of this may occur
to most observers, but as a case in point I may refer to Cheshunt,
on the borders of Hertfordshire. Some distance from the town-fringed
highway, the village church, ancient and picturesque, stands amidst
its many generations of people--living and dead--hard by a little
street of old-world cottages. The spot and its surroundings are
beautiful, and the churchyard alone gives proof that the locality has
been under the influence of culture from generation to generation.
In few places are there so many and such artistic specimens of
allegorical carvings on the headstones. The usual experience is to
find one or two, seldom more than a dozen, of these inventions worth
notice, and only in rare instances to light upon anything of the
kind distinctly unique; but at Cheshunt there are more than a hundred
varieties of sculptured design and workmanship, all the stones
standing at the proper angle, and all in good condition.


"To Mary Lee, died July, 1779, aged 49 years."

In the illustration I selected at Cheshunt the left half of the
picture appears to denote Life and the right half Death. In the
former are the vigorous tree, the towers and fortresses, the plans and
working implements of an active existence. In the latter the withered
tree, with the usual emblems of death and eternity, emphasizes the
state beyond the grave, and in the centre are mushrooms, probably to
point the lesson of the new life out of decay.

Hatfield is another instance of preservation without change, none of
the old stones having, so far as one can judge, been allowed to sink
into the earth, nor, as is too often the case, to heel over, to be
then broken up, carted away, or put to pave the church and churchyard.
There is quite a collection of primitive and diminutive headstones,
carefully ranged against the south wall of Hatfield Church, dating
from 1687 to 1700; and the specimens of carving in the older parts
of the churchyard are of great number and many designs. The one which
appears in the sketch (Fig. 83) is curious by reason of the peculiar
decoration which fringes the upper edge of the stone. It is somewhat
worn away, and I cannot discover whether the ornament was intended for
some sort of aigrette, or, which it closely resembles at the present
time, a string of skulls.


"To the wife of John Malsty (?), died 1713."

There appears here, as elsewhere, to have been a tendency at times to
repeat unduly such familiar figures as the open book, but, as a whole,
Hatfield is a good example of a country churchyard. There are many
other old burial-grounds thoughtfully kept in as good, or even better,
order than the two here quoted; but it is for the respect shewn to the
ancient memorials of the village fathers, rather than the churchyards
themselves, that I have ventured to select them as patterns for
imitation. There is another curious border on a stone in the secluded
but well-kept country churchyard of Northolt, Middlesex.

[Illustration: FIG. 84 NORTHOLT.]


"To William Cob, died 25th September 1709,
aged 68 years."

Twickenham, in the same county, but now grown into a town, has
modified its churchyard to its needs, without much change, and I
give it a sketch in recognition of a sufficient and not excessive
well-doing. Neither of these two examples call for other remark, being
of simple interpretation.

[Illustration: FIG. 85. TWICKENHAM.]


"To Elizabeth (?) Haynes, died 1741, aged
35 years."

But while we find the few to be commended, what a common experience
it is, on the other hand, to come upon a neglected churchyard; the
crippled stones bending at all angles, many of them cracked, chipped,
and otherwise disfigured, and the majority half hidden in rank weeds
and grass. In some places, owing to climatic conditions, moss or
lichen has effaced every sign of inscription or ornament from the old
stones; and there are localities which appear to be really unfortunate
in their inability to resist the destructive influence of the weather
upon their tombs, which, perhaps because they are of unsuitable
material, go to decay in, comparatively speaking, a few years. As a
rule, however, these relics of our ancestors need not and ought not to
prematurely perish and disappear from the face of the earth. Where the
graveyard is still used as a place of interment, or remains as it was
when closed against interments, the sexton or a labourer should have
it in perpetual care. The grass and weeds should be kept in
constant check, and the tombs of all kinds preserved at the proper
perpendicular. If not too much to ask, the application of a little
soap and water at long intervals might be recommended in particular
instances; but all such details depend upon circumstances, and may be
left to the individual judgment. Provided there is the disposition,
there will always be found the way and the means to make the holy
ground a decent and a pleasant place.

Reverence for the dead, especially among their known descendants, will
generally operate as a check upon hasty or extravagant "improvements,"
and it may be expected that those responsible for the administration
of local affairs will, for the most part, when they set about the
beautification of their churchyard, decide to do what is necessary
with no needless alterations. This plan of preservation, as already
intimated, is probably the most desirable. But we know instances,
especially in and around London, where good work has been done by
judiciously thinning out the crop of tombstones, clearing away the
least presentable features of the place, and making the ground prim
with flower-beds and borders. To do this much, and to introduce a few
seats, will leave the graveyard still a graveyard in the old sense,
and requires no authority outside the church. It may be prudent to
take a vote of the Vestry on the subject as a defence against irate
parishioners, but, if nothing be done beyond a decorous renovation of
the burial-ground, the matter is really one which is entirely within
the functions of the parson and churchwardens. Moreover, although it
is not generally known, the expenses of such works are a legal charge
against the parish, provided the churchwardens have had the previous
countenance of their colleagues the overseers. The account for the due
and proper maintenance of the disused churchyard may be sent to the
Burial Board, if there be such a board, and, if not, to the overseers,
and the cost will in any case fall upon the poor-rate. Converting the
ground absolutely into a public garden is quite a different matter,
and, notwithstanding its difficulties, it is the course usually
adopted. First, the consent of the Vestry is imperative, and every
step is carefully measured by a stringent Act of Parliament. A
petition for a faculty must be presented to the Bishop of the diocese,
and before it can be granted there must be an official enquiry in
public before the Diocesan Chancellor--always a profound lawyer,
learned in ecclesiastical jurisprudence. Everybody who has any claim
or objection as to any particular grave-space, or to the whole scheme
altogether, has a right to be heard; all reasonable requests are
usually granted, and the closing order, if made, is mostly full of
conditions and reservations in favour of surviving relatives and
others who have shewn cause for retaining this tomb and that stone
undisturbed. In practice it is found that there are not very many
such claims, but it sometimes happens that serious obstacles are left
standing in the way of the landscape gardener. One almost invariable
regulation requires that places shall be found within the enclosure
for all the old stones in positions where they can be seen and their
inscriptions read; to range them in one or more rows against the
interior of the boundary fence is usually accepted as compliance with
this rule. Injudicious arrangement occasionally obscures some of the
inscriptions, but they are all accessible if required, and anything
is better than extinction. It is earnestly to be hoped that at least
equal care is taken of the memorials in burial-grounds which are less
ceremoniously closed. Where the work is thoughtfully conceived and
discreetly accomplished, much good and little harm is done to a
populous place by clearing the ground, laying out footpaths, and
planting trees and flowers. But the gravestone, the solemn witness
"Sacred to the Memory" of the dead, is a pious trust which demands
our respect and protection, at least so long as it is capable
of proclaiming its mission. When it has got past service and its
testimony has been utterly effaced by time, it is not so easy to
find arguments for its preservation. There is no sense or utility in
exhibiting a blank tablet, and I have seen without scruple or remorse
such superannuated vestiges employed in repairing the church fabric.
But this, be it understood, is only when the stone is irretrievably
beyond _memento mori_ service, and on the clear condition that it is
employed in the furtherance of religious work. It is true that a stone
is only a stone, whatever it may have been used for, but a peculiar
sanctity is in most minds associated with the grave, and we ought not
to run the risk of shocking tender-hearted people by degrading even
the dead memorial of the dead to profane and secular purposes. And
yet, what has become in too many cases of the old gravestones?
The very old ones we may perhaps account for, but where are the
middle-aged ones of the eighteenth century? It cannot be doubted,
alas, that they have in many churchyards been deliberately taken away
and destroyed to make room for new ones. Districts comprising many
parishes may be pointed out with all their old churches in the midst
of their old churchyards, but without one old gravestone standing.
The rule and practice have been to quietly remove the relics of the
forgotten sires in order to dig new graves for a new generation. The
habit, as just said, rules by districts, and this is the case in most
matters connected with the subject of this essay. It is a general and
remarkable truth that "good" and "bad" churchyards abound in groups.
The force of example or the instinct of imitation may explain the
fact, but it affords a sad reflection upon the morality of the
burial-place. Kirke White asks:

"Who would lay
His body in the City burial-place,
To be cast up again by some rude sexton?"

In my experience the chief sinner is not the city, but the country,

Other memorials than the headstone are scarcely included in my
subject. Few of the slate slabs which answer the purpose in Wales
and some of the bordering counties can maintain their inscriptions in
legible condition for a very long period, and they are in all respects
inferior to stone in durability. This thought would have given no
anxiety to the writer of some Chapters on Churchyards which appeared
in "Blackwood's Magazine" about 1820. Said he:

"In parts of Warwickshire and some of the adjacent counties, more
especially in the churchyards of the larger towns, the frightful
fashion of black tombstones is almost universal--black tombstones,
tall and slim, and lettered in gold, looking for all the world
like upright coffin-lids.... Some village burial-grounds here have,
however, escaped this treatment, and within the circuit of a few miles
round Warwick itself are many small hamlet churches each surrounded by
its lowly flock of green graves and grey headstones.... some half sunk
into the churchyard mould, many carved out into cherubins with their
trumpeter's cheeks and expanded wings, or with the awful emblems,
death's heads and bones and hour-glasses."

Of the so-called black tombstones I have seen none other than slate.

In a short tour through Wales, in 1898, I found very few old
headstones. Most of the memorials in the churchyards were constructed
of slate, which abundant material is devoted to every conceivable
purpose. There is a kind of clay-slate more durable than some of the
native stones, and even the poorer slate which perisheth is lasting in
comparison with the wooden planks which have been more or less adopted
in many burial-places, but can never have been expected to endure more
than a few brief years. Wherever seen they are usually in decay, and
under circumstances so forlorn that it is an act of mercy to end their


I conclude my English illustrations of the gravestones with one
selected from the churchyard at Kingston-on-Thames, and I leave its
interpretation to the reader.

[Illustration: FIG. 86. HIGH BARNET.]

[Illustration: FIG. 87. KINGSTON-ON-THAMES.]


"To Thomas Bennett, died 7th Dec. 1800,
aged 13 years."

The remainder of my unambitious book will be mostly devoted to
impressions gained in Ireland and Scotland and on the Continent in my
autumn holidays.



[Illustration: FIG. 88. SWORDS.]

In entering upon a chapter dealing with "Old Gravestones in Ireland,"
one is tempted to follow a leading case and sum up the subject in the
words: "There are no old gravestones in Ireland." But this would be
true only in a sense. Of those primitive and rustic carvings, which
are so distinctive of the eighteenth-century memorials in England, I
have found an almost entire absence in my holiday-journey ings about
Ireland--the churchyards of which I have sampled, wherever opportunity
was afforded me, from Belfast and Portrush in the north, down to
Killarney and Queenstown in the south. But there are unquestionably
old gravestones of quite a different order of simplicity in the Irish
burial-places, the most common type being the rough slab of stone,
several of which are here sketched at random from the graveyard of
the large village or little town of Swords, ten miles or so north of
Dublin (Fig. 88). Very few of these stones bear any inscription, and,
according to the belief of the local residents, never have been carved
or even shaped in any way. In one or two instances, however, the
effort of trimming the edges of the stone is clearly visible, and in
rare cases we see the pious but immature attempts of the amateur mason
to perpetuate, if only by initials, the memory of the deceased.[10]
Some such records still remain, but many have doubtless perished, for
the material is only the soft freestone so easily obtainable in the
district, and the rains and frosts of no great number of years have
sufficed to obliterate all such shallow carvings; the surfaces of the
laminated rock being even now in process of peeling off before our

[Footnote 10: In a barren record of facts, such as this chapter is
meant to be, I avoid as far as possible deductions and reflections
apart from my immediate subject; but it is impossible to pursue an
investigation of this character without being deeply interested both
in the past history and present life of the people. I cannot help
saying that in one day's walk from Malahide to Balbriggan I learnt
far more of the Irish peasantry, the Irish character, and the Irish
"problem" than I had been able to acquire in all my reading, supported
by not a little experience in the capital and great towns of Ireland.
The village streets, the cabins, the schools, the agriculture and the
land, the farmer and the landlord, the poverty and the hospitality
of the people, were all to be studied at first hand; and there were
churches by the way at Swords and Rush which the archaeologist will
seek in vain to match in any other country. The Bound Tower (Celtic no
doubt) at the former place, and the battlemented fortalice, which is
more like a castle than a church, at Rush, are both worth a special

The cross and "T.L." scratched on one of the stones appears to be
recent work, and the wonderful preservation of the stone to Lawrence
Paine, of 1686, can only be accounted for by the supposition that it
has long lain buried, and been lately restored to the light. The stone
is of the same perishable kind as the others, and it is certain that
it could not have survived exposure to the atmosphere, as its date
would imply, for upwards of 200 years. It may even be found that the
weather has chipped off the edges of the stones which now appear so
jagged, shapeless, and grotesque; but, from recent evidences gathered
elsewhere, it is but too probable that these rude pillars have been,
and still are, set up as they come from the quarry, without dressing
and free from any carving or attention whatever.

Many instances may be found in which slabs of stone, or even slate,
have been erected quite recently, the edges untrimmed, and the name of
the deceased simply _painted_ upon them more or less inartistically,
as in the sketch from Drogheda (Fig. 89). Such crude examples are the
more remarkable in a busy and thriving port like Drogheda, and amid
many handsome monuments, than among the peasantry of the villages; and
it is easy to imagine that if nothing more durable than paint has been
employed to immortalize the dead in past times all traces must have
speedily disappeared. The illustrations from Drogheda give the whole
inscription in each case, neither having date nor age, nor any other
particular beyond the name. The memorial on the left hand is of
slate--the other two of freestone; and the slate in the northern parts
of Ireland is the preferable of the two materials.

[Illustration: FIG. 89. DROGHEDA.]

There are at Bangor, ten miles west of Belfast, many such slate
records, which have endured for more than a century, and are still
in excellent preservation. One which attracted my especial notice at
Bangor was of the professional character here depicted, and in memory
of one of those bold privateers who were permitted to sail the seas on
their own account in the old war times.


The following is the epitaph, as clearly to be read now as on the day
when it was carved on this slab of Irish slate, more than a century

"Born to a course of Manly action free,
I dauntless trod ye fluctuating sea
In Pompous War or happier Peace to bring
Joy to my Sire and honour to my King.
And much by favour of the God was done
Ere half the term of human life was run.
One fatal night, returning from the bay
Where British fleets ye Gallic land survey,
Whilst with warm hope my trembling heart beat high,
My friends, my kindred, and my country nigh,
Lasht by the winds the waves arose and bore
Our Ship in shattered fragments to the shore.
There ye flak'd surge opprest my darkening sight,
And there my eyes for ever lost the light.

"Captain George Colvill of the Private Ship
of War 'Amazon,' and only son of
Robert Colvill of Bangor, was wrecked
near this ground 25th February 1780, in
ye 22nd year of his age."

A possible explanation of the long endurance of this slate slab may
be found in the practice which prevails in this and some other
churchyards of giving all such memorials a periodical coat of paint;
of which, however, in the case here quoted there is no remaining

Altogether, primitive as they may be, the gravestones of the last
century in Ireland, so far as I have seen them, compare favourably
with the works of the hedge-mason in England which we have seen
in earlier chapters. Even the poor pillar of rough stone, unhewn,
ungarnished, and bare as it is, represents an affectionate remembrance
of the dead which is full of pathos, and has a refinement in its
simplicity which commands our sympathy far above the semi-barbarous
engravings of heads and skulls which we have previously pictured. The
immaturity of provincial art in Ireland is at least redeemed by an
absence of such monstrous figures and designs as we at the present
day usually associate with the carvings of savages in the African

But the eighteenth-century gravestones in Ireland are not all of the
primitive kind--many of them being as artistic and well-finished as
any to be found in other parts of the British Isles. The predominant
type is the "I.H.S.," surmounted by the cross, which appears on
probably four-fifths of the inscribed stones of the eighteenth and
early nineteenth centuries in Ireland. The only instances which came
under my notice bearing any resemblance to the incipient notions of
human heads so frequently met with in certain parts of England
were the three here copied (Fig. 91). Nos. 2 and 3 are taken from
gravestones in the old churchyard near Queenstown, and the other
appears in duplicate on one stone at Muckross Abbey by the Lakes of
Killarney.[11] The stately wreck of Muckross Abbey has in its decay
enclosed within its walls the tombs of knights and heroes whose
monuments stand in gorgeous contrast to the desolation which is
mouldering around them; while on the south side of the ancient edifice
is the graveyard in which the peasant-fathers of the hamlet sleep,
the green mounds which cover them in some instances marked by carved
stones taken from the adjacent ruins. Both Abbey and grounds are still
used for interments, together with the enclosure about the little
church of Killaghie on the neighbouring eminence--a church which
(like a few others) enjoys the reputation of being the smallest in the

[Footnote 11: The Muckross stone (No. 1) was overgrown with ivy which
quite covered up the inscription, but its date was probably about
1750. Of the two from Queenstown, No. 2 is to Mary Gammell, 1793, aged
53; and No. 3 to Roger Brettridge, 1776, aged 63.]

[Illustration: FIG. 90. BANGOR, IRELAND.]


I leave to the ethnologists the task of accounting for these abnormal
carvings in the South of Ireland, and associating them with the like
productions of the same period in the South of England. Or perhaps
I ought rather to excuse my insufficient researches, which, though
spread over a broad area, are yet confined to but a few of the many
spots available, and may very probably have passed by unexplored the
fruitful fields. But, in the words of Professor Stephens, the
apostle of Runic monuments, I claim for this work that it is "only
a beginning, a breaking of the ice, a ground upon which others may
build." My pages are but "feelers groping out things and thoughts for
further examination."



A very peculiar interest attaches to the old stones which survive
in the burial-grounds of Scotland. Regarded generally they are of a
description quite apart from the prevalent features of their English
and Irish prototypes. Taking the same period as hitherto in limiting
our purview of the subject, that is from the latter part of the
seventeenth to the early part of the nineteenth century, it may
perhaps be said that the Scottish headstones are tablets of Scottish
history and registers of Scottish character during a long and
memorable time. The one all-prevalent feature everywhere is indicative
of the severe piety and self-sacrifice of an age and a people
remarkable for one of the simplest professions of faith that has
ever existed under the Christian dispensation. The rigid discipline,
contempt for form, and sustained humility of the old Covenanters are
written deeply in the modest stones which mark the green graves of
their faithful dead during a period of fully two hundred years. The
vainglory of a graven stone to exalt the virtues of imperfect men and
women was to them a forbidden thing; the ostentation even of a name
carved on a slab was at variance with doctrine; the cravings of a poor
humanity to be remembered after death had to be satisfied with bare
initials, and initials are all that were written on the gravestones
in many thousands of cases, probably ninety per cent, of the whole,
throughout the eighteenth century and approximate years. But the
rule was not without its exceptions, often of novel and peculiar
description. The skull and crossbone series, so common in the south,
have no place in North Britain; while the symbol of the cross, so
frequent in Ireland, is very rarely to be found in any shape whatever
within the boundaries of a Scottish burial-place. I present four
specimen types from the old chapel-yard at Inverness.

[Illustration: FIG. 92. INVERNESS.]

[Illustration: FIG. 93. BRAEMAR.]


On the stone No. 2 the tailor's tools--shears, goose, and bodkin--are
clear enough, and I was told that the figures on the stone in the
lower left-hand corner (No. 3) are locally recognized as the shuttle
and some other requisite of the weaver's trade. Inverness had spinning
and weaving for its staple industries when Pennant visited the place
in 1759. Its exports of cordage and sacking were considerable, and
(says Pennant) "the linen manufacture saves the town above L3000 a
year, which used to go to Holland."

In the 1698 example (No. 1) the short "and" (&) leaves no doubt that
W.F. & J. McP. (probably McPherson and his wife) are there buried;
and the similar information is almost as certainly conveyed in the
manifold cases in which appears the sign which occupies the same
position in the two lower stones (Nos. 3 and 4). These, however, are
all of later date, and may be set down as developments, or rather
corruptions, of the original form. The same signs, however, constantly
occur in all the northern graveyards.

Scotland has also its cruder form of memorial in the rough unhewn
slabs of native freestone, which are used in all parts of the British
Isles wherever such material is readily procurable.


Two of these slabs of different degrees are seen in my Braemar sketch,
but both seem of one family and serve to shew us the unconscious
evolution of a doctrinal law into a national custom. The employment
of initials, originally the sacrifice and self-denial of a dissentient
faith, is here, as in other instances, combined with the Catholic
emblem of the Cross. This little graveyard of Braemar, lying among
the moors and mountains which surround Balmoral, and accustomed to
receiving illustrious pilgrims whose shoe-string the poor gravestone
tramp is not worthy to unloose, is still used for indiscriminate
burials, and furnishes several examples of Roman Catholic interments.
Wherever such are found in Scotland, bearing dates of the eighteenth
century, they are usually of the rough character depicted in the
sketch. The recumbent slab in the same drawing is given to illustrate
the table or altar stone, which throughout Scotland has been used
all through the Covenantic period to evade the Covenantic rule of the
simple anonymous gravestone, for such memorials are almost invariably
engraved and inscribed with designs and epitaphs, sometimes of the
most elaborate character. But these are not mere gravestones: they are

[Illustration: FIG. 94. STIRLING]


In all parts of Scotland at which we find departures from the
conventional simplicity of the gravestone, the variation inclines
abundantly towards the symbols of trade and husbandry. At Stirling, in
the noble churchyard perched on the Castle Rock, the weaver's shuttle
noticed at Inverness appears in many varieties, for Pennant tells us
that in 1772 Stirling, with only 4000 inhabitants, was an important
factory of "tartanes and shalloons," and employed about thirty looms
in making carpets.[12] Occasionally the bobbin is represented alone,
but the predominant fashion is the shuttle open and revealing the
bobbin in its place. This is as it appears in No. 1 of the four
sketches from Stirling, where it seems to indicate, with the shovel
and rake, a mingling of weaver and agriculturist. The other trade
emblems speak for themselves, excepting the reversed figure 4 in the
stone of 1710 (No. 3). This sign has been variously interpreted, but
the most reliable authorities say that it is a merchant's mark
used not only in Stirling but in other parts of Scotland, if not of
England. There are in Howff Burial-ground, Dundee, and in many country
churchyards round about that town and Stirling, numerous varieties
of this figure, some having the "4" in the ordinary unreversed shape,
some with and some without the *, some of both shapes resting on the
letter "M," and others independent of any support whatever. It has
also been supposed to have some connection with the masons' marks
frequently to be seen in old churches, and is even regarded as
possibly of prehistoric origin.[13]

[Footnote 12: Pennant pronounced the view from Stirling heights "the
finest in Scotland."]

[Footnote 13: The vulgar explanation of the sign is "4d. discount
on the shilling," and some of the guide-books are not much better
informed when they assume that it marks Stirling as the fourth city
of Scotland, for in the old roll of Scottish burghs Stirling stands


The stone copied at Blairgowrie is an enigma which I scarcely dare to
unravel, but it will admit of several interpretations. "I.E." probably
stands for John Elder and "M.H." for his "spouse," but to set out John
Elder's name in full, and at the same time to insert his initials,
shews either a misconception of, or disregard for, the principles and
usages of the Presbytery. Otherwise, in some respects, this example
is almost worthy to be classed with the more degenerate forms of
churchyard sculpture in England; the skull, the crown, the hour-glass,
the coffin, and the bones being all well-known and conventional signs.
The compasses may stand for John Elder's profession, but the figure
which resembles a cheese-cutter, just below the crown, can only be a
subject of conjecture. This stone, which is one of the least artistic
I have met with in Scotland, is an evidence to shew that the rural
sculptor was as ready in the north as in the south to blossom forth
had he not been checked by the rigours of the Church. At times indeed
the mortal passion for a name to live to posterity was too strong to
be altogether curbed, as we may see manifested even in the prescribed
initials when they are moulded of heroic size, from 8 to 10 inches
being no uncommon height. Remarkable also is the fact just mentioned
(page 86) that, concurrently with the erection of these dumb
headstones, there were flat or table stones[14] allowed, upon which not
only were the names and virtues of the departed fully set forth,
but all sorts of emblematical devices introduced. The table tomb was
probably in itself a vanity, and, the boundary passed, there appears
to have been no limit to its excesses. There are a great many
instances of this at Inverness, Aberdeen, Keith, Dunblane, and
elsewhere, and the stone which appears in the sketch from Braemar is
only one of several in that very limited space. Such exceptional
cases seem to indicate some local relaxation from the austerity of
the period, which was apparently most intense in the centres of
population. Humility at the grave extended even to the material of
the gravestone. At Aberdeen, the Granite City, few of the last-century
gravestones are of any better material than the soft sandstones which
must have been imported from Elgin or the south. The rule of initials
was almost universal. In like manner, when it became the custom to
purchase grave-spaces, the simplest possible words were employed to
denote the ownership. I noticed one stone in Aberdeen bearing on its
face the medallion portrait of a lady, and only the words of Isaiah,
chapter xl. verse 6: "The voice said, All flesh is grass, and all the
goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field." At the back of the
stone is written: "This burying ground, containing two graves, belongs
to William Rait, Merchant. Aberdeen, 1800." The practice of carving on
both faces of the headstone is very common in Scotland, and, so far
as I have observed, in Scotland alone; but, strange as it may seem,
Scotland and Ireland when they write gravestone inscriptions have one
habit in common, that of beginning their epitaphs, not with the name
of the deceased person, but with the name of the person who provides
the stone. Thus:--

Erected by William Brown
to his Father John Brown,
etc., etc.

[Footnote 14: It has been suggested to me that these "tombs" were the
luxuries of the wealthier inhabitants.]

[Illustration: FIG. 95. BLAIRGOWRIE.]

[Illustration: FIG. 96. LAUFEN.

1. Cut into stone.

2. Anchor of iron on dwarf stone pillar.

3. Heart and anchor of thin iron on dwarf stone pillar.

4. Iron plate and rod.

5. Wooden cross.

6. Wooden cross.]



"Abroad" is a big place, and no sufficient treatment under the head
of this chapter is possible except to one who has had very great
experience and extended research. Nevertheless I may, with all due
diffidence and modesty, tell the little I know on the subject. My
opportunities of investigation have been few, and restricted to a
limited area--so restricted and so limited that I cannot tell whether
or not the observations I have made may be taken as indications of
national habits or merely as idiosyncrasies of the people inhabiting
the particular localities which I was able to visit. All the
churchyards which I have seen in France, Belgium, Germany, and
Switzerland very much resemble each other, and are altogether unlike
the graveyards of Great Britain and her children. It is to the
villages we should naturally go for primitive memorials of the dead,
but in all the continental villages which I have visited memorials
of a permanent character, either old or new, are scarcely to be seen.
Occasionally a stone slab may be encountered, but almost always of
recent date. At Laufen in the Canton of Zurich, near the Falls of the
Rhine, I selected almost at random the examples of memorials shewn in
my sketch (Fig. 96), one or other of which was at the head of nearly
every grave.


The average height of these mementoes was about 2 feet, and all the
dates which I saw were of the last twenty-five years. Permanence
indeed is apparently not considered as it is with us in the like
circumstances. The British gravestone is trusted to perpetuate at
least the names of our departed friends down to the days of our
posterity, but the provision made by our neighbours seems to have
been for the existing generation only. Posterity does not trouble the
villagers of Switzerland nor their prototypes of other nations around
them. This fact was strongly exemplified at Neuhausen, a small place
on the other bank of the Rhine, "five minutes from Germany" we were


In the churchyard at this place was one handsome tombstone, shewn in
the drawing, erected apparently in 1790. This was evidence of somewhat
ancient art, and I looked about for the old gravestones which should
have kept it company. Erect in its place there was not one, but in
the remotest corner of the enclosure I came upon several stones lying
flat, one upon another, the uppermost and only visible inscription
bearing the recent date of 1870! Only twenty years or so "on sentry"
at the grave, and already relieved from duty! There was likewise a
miscellaneous heap of old crosses, etc., of iron and wood, the
writing on which had disappeared, and they might reasonably have been
condemned as of no further service; but that gravestones in perfect
preservation should have been thought to have served their full
purpose in a little over twenty years, and be cast aside as no longer
requisite, was a remarkable lesson in national character. All the
graves were flat, and at the head of every recent one was a small iron
slab bearing a number. Many of those which had crosses were hung with
immortelles, composed generally of glass-beads.

[Illustration: FIG. 97. NEUHAUSEN.]

In Neuhausen Graveyard, at the end of the row of graves, are seen two
rings protruding from the ground. Lying near is an iron shield with
two similar rings surmounting it. It is readily supposed that the
first-named rings are also attached to a shield buried in the earth,
and so it proves. In order that no space may be lost between the
graves, the shields are used alternately to serve as the dividing
wall, and are then drawn out, thus enabling the sexton to pack the
coffins close together.

The towns and cities abroad have their cemeteries beyond the
outskirts, as is the practice here. Occasionally an old churchyard is
to be met with, but never an old gravestone as we know it. Still there
are instances in which ancient carvings of the same character have
been saved by attachment to the church or churchyard wall. Several
such are to be seen in German churchyards long since converted to
purposes of recreation, and one at Heidelberg may be taken as an


To "Barbara Fosterii," died 1745, aged 67.

Beneath is the text from the First Epistle of Peter, chapter i. verses
24 and 25.

"All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower
of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth
away: but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever."

At Lucerne, tinder similar conditions, the striking figures of two
skeletons, partly in military garb, keep guard over the tablet which
records the virtues of a departed hero. He was probably a soldier, but
the figure of a _lictor_ on the left with his _fasces_ of axe and rods
seems to betoken some civil employment. In ancient times the _lictors_
walked in advance of the magistrates, and executed sentence when

[Illustration: FIG. 99. LUCERNE.]

[Illustration: FIG. 98. HEIDELBERG.]


To "Iodoco Bernardo Hartman," died 1752,
aged 67 years.

The two last-given illustrations may possibly belong to the category
of mural tablets rather than that of gravestones, being fixed
apparently by original design, and not by afterthought, as in our
"converted" burial-grounds, against the outer walls of the church.
There are, however, no other remains which I could discover bearing
any resemblance to the old British headstone, and the evanescent
character which seems to have attached for a certain period to
the memorials of the dead among our neighbours abroad forbids the
expectation that any such as those which have appeared in our earlier
chapters are to be found in Europe outside the boundaries of our
Empire. In more modern observances, especially in the centres of
population, English and continental manners more nearly approximate;
and in the many new cemeteries which are now to be found adjacent
to the cities and large towns of Western Europe there are tombs and
gravestones as many and as costly as are to be found in any round
London. In Germany the present practice appears to be single
interments, and one inscription only on the stone, and that studiously
brief. Thus:

[Transcriber's note: inscriptions below enclosed in a border]

Eduard Schmidt
Geb d. 8 Oct., 1886.
Gest d. 10 Jan., 1887.

This I copied in the cemetery at Schaffhausen. But at Hendon, a
north-west suburb of London, has recently been placed against
the church wall a still simpler memorial, a small slab of marble,

Carl Richard Loose
B. 21. 1. 52: D. 14. 10. 81.

For brevity _in excelsis_ the following, from the cemetery at
Heidelberg, can hardly be eclipsed:

Michael Seiler

Sometimes the asterisk is used by the Germans to denote birth, and the
dagger (or cross) for death, thus:

Hier Risht in Gott
Natalie Brethke
* 1850 +- 1884



Although, for reasons already explained or surmised, the gravestones
in our burial-grounds seldom exceed an age of 200 years, there has
probably been no time and no race of men in which such memorials were
unknown. Professor Dr. John Stuart, the Scottish antiquary,[15] opines
that "the erection of stones to the memory of the dead has been
common to all the world from the earliest times," and there are many
instances recorded in the Old Testament, as when Rachel died and Jacob
"set a pillar upon her grave" (Genesis, chapter xxxv. verse 20); and
another authority, Mr. R. R. Brash,[16] in a similar strain, comments
on the sentiment which appears to have been common to human nature
in all ages, and among all conditions of mankind, namely a desire to
leave after him something to perpetuate his memory, something more
durable than his frail humanity. This propensity doubtless led him in
his earliest and rudest state to set on end in the earth the rough and
unhewn pillar stone which he found lying prostrate on the surface, and
these hoar memorials exist in almost every country.

[Footnote 15: "The Sculptured Stones of Scotland" (two volumes), by
John Stuart, LL.D., Secretary to the Scottish Society of Antiquaries.]

[Footnote 16: "Ogam Inscribed Monuments," by R.R. Brash; edited by G.M.

A remarkable instance is afforded by Absalom, the son of David, who
himself set up a stone to record his memory: "Now Absalom in his
lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in
the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in
remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is
called unto this day, Absalom's place" (2 Samuel, chapter xviii. verse

Professor Stuart indeed declares that there is no custom in the
history of human progress which serves so much to connect the remote
past with the present period as the erection of pillar stones. We meet
with it, he says, in the infancy of history, and it is even yet, in
some shape or other, the means by which man hopes to hand down his
memory to the future. The sculptured tombs of early nations often
furnish the only key to their modes of life; and their memorial
stones, if they may not in all cases be classed with sepulchral
records, must yet be considered as remains of the same early period
when the rock was the only book in which an author could convey his
thoughts, and when history was to be handed down by memorials which
should always meet the eye and prompt the question, "What mean ye by
these stones?"

To such remote antiquity, however, it is probably undesirable to
follow our subject. It will no doubt be thought sufficient for this
essay if we leave altogether out of view the researches which have
been made in the older empires of the earth, and confine ourselves to
the records of our own country. Of these, however, there are many,
and they are full of interest. In date they probably occupy a period
partly Pagan and partly Christian, and it has been conjectured that
all or most of those discovered had their source in Ireland, with
a possibility of an earlier importation into Ireland by Icelandic,
Danish, or other peoples. Many of these stones have been found buried
in the ruins of old churches, and most of them may be supposed to owe
their preservation to some such protection. The drawings of one or two
may be given as samples. Those here sketched (Figs. 100 and 101) are
in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, and occupy
with others a considerable space, being well displayed to shew the
inscriptions on both sides.[17] It is by the fact of both sides being
written upon that we assign to them the character of gravestones,
that is upright gravestones; but it is also well authenticated by
historical records that the memorial of a Pagan chief in Ireland was a
cairn with a pillar stone standing upon it, and there is little doubt
that the Irish invaders carried the practice with them into Scotland.
It is indeed in Scotland that a large proportion of these stones have
been discovered, and there are more than a hundred of them in the
Edinburgh Museum. In the Museum at Dublin there is also a good
collection, conveniently arranged; but the British Museum in London
has less than half a dozen--only five--specimens. The number in each
of the three museums fairly represents the relative abundance of
such remains in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Marked on a chart
the discoveries are thickly grouped in the North-Western parts of
Scotland, in the South of Ireland, and on the South-Western promontory
of Wales. In Cornwall and Devonshire, along the coast line, there have
been found a goodly few, and the others are dotted sparsely over the
whole kingdom--England, as just indicated, furnishing only a modicum.

[Footnote 17: The National Museum of Antiquities in Queen Street,
Edinburgh, is unequalled by any other collection of British and Celtic
remains. All these memorial stones are carefully catalogued, and
have, moreover, the advantage of being described at length, with
full illustration, in Professor Stuart's copious work (previously
mentioned) on "The Sculptured Stones of Scotland."]

[Illustration: THE BRESSAY STONE FIG. 100.



The inscriptions upon such stones, when they are inscribed, are
usually in Ogam or Runic characters. An example of the Ogam writing
is shewn on the edges of the Bressay stone (Fig. 100), and also on
the front side of the Lunnasting stone (Fig. 101a). The Ogam style
was used by the ancient Irish and some other Celtic nations, and the
"Ogams," or letters, consist principally of lines, or groups of lines,
deriving their signification from their position on a single stem,
or chief line, over, under, or through which they are drawn,
perpendicularly or obliquely. Curves rarely occur; but some are
seen in the inscription on the Bressay stone, which has been thus
interpreted by Dr. Graves, Bishop of Limerick: "Bentire, or the Son
of the Druid, lies here." "The Cross of Nordred's daughter is here
placed." This stone was found by a labourer about 1851, while digging
in a piece of waste ground near the ruinous church of Culbinsgarth at
Bressay, Shetland. The design is said to be thoroughly Irish, and the
inscription a mixture of Irish and Icelandic. The stone measures 4 ft.
by 1 ft. 4-1/2 in. by 2 in. It is attributed to the ninth century.

The stone 101a is a slab of brownish sandstone, 44 in. by 13 in. by
11/2 in., from Lunnasting, also in Shetland. It was found five
feet below the surface in 1876, and, having probably lain there for
centuries, was in excellent preservation. The authorities, however,
are unable to make a satisfactory translation. The cross or dagger is
also of doubtful explanation; and Mr. Gilbert Goudie thinks it is
a mere mason's mark. It is, however, admitted on all hands that
the stone is of Christian origin, and probably of the period just
subsequent to the termination of the Roman rule in Britain. It has
been suggested that most of these ancient gravestones were carved and
set up by the Irish missionary monks not earlier than A.D. 580. The
Ogam inscription on the Lumasting stone has been made by one expert to


A strange and inexplicable aggregation of consonants.

The stone represented below, 101 _b_, bears an inscription in Runic
characters. Runic is a term applied to any mysterious writing; but
there were three leading classes of "runes"--Scandinavian, German,
and Anglo-Saxon--all agreeing in certain features, and all ascribed
by some authorities to the Phoenicians. The stone 101 _b_ was found in
1865, at Kilbar, Barra, a remote island of the outer Hebrides, off the
north-west coast of Scotland. It measures 6 ft. 5-1/2 in. in
height, and its greatest width is 15-1/2 inches. Mr. Carmichael has
conjectured that it was probably brought from Iona about the beginning
of the seventeenth century, and erected in Barra at the head of a
grave made by a son of McNeil for himself. But it is believed to
have been in any case a Norse memorial in the first instance, though
certainly Christian, for it reads:

"Ur and Thur Gared set up the stones of Riskar.[18] May Christ guard
his soul."

[Footnote 18: Riskar, or Raskar, is a surname of the Norwegians, who
were early settled in the Western Islands and adopted the Christian
faith.--"Old Northern Runic Monuments of Scandinavia and England," by
Dr. George Stephens, F.S.A.]

The Barra stone has on the reverse side a large cross, carved in
plaited bands. Dr. Petrie has pointed out that the cross is not
necessarily indicative of belief, the ancient Danes and other peoples
having used various signs--the cross frequently--to mark their
boundaries, their cattle, and their graves.[19] There is little doubt,
however, that in most of these British and Irish memorials, although
the stones may originally have been Pagan, the cross is typical of
Christianity. We are told that it was not unusual for St. Patrick
to dedicate Pagan monuments to the honour of the true God. On one
occasion, it is related, on the authority of an ancient life of the
Saint, that, on coming to the Plain of Magh Solga, near Elphin, he
found three pillar stones which had been raised there by the Pagans,
either as memorials of events or for the celebration of Pagan rites,
on one of which he inscribed the name of Jesus, on another Soter, and
on the third Salvator, along probably with the cross, such as is seen
on nearly every Christian monument in Ireland. In the same way on
two of five upright pillars in the parish of Maroun, Isle of Man, are
crosses deeply incised. This spot is traditionally associated with St.
Patrick as the place where he preached, and the stones appear to be
remains of a Druidical circle.

[Footnote 19: "Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language." Collected
by George Petrie, and edited by Miss M. Stokes.]

This practice is quite consistent with the principles upon which the
Christian conversion was established by the early missionaries. Thus,
Gregory, in a letter from Rome, in 601, directed that the idolatrous
temples in England should not be destroyed, but turned into Christian
churches, in order that the people might be induced to resort to their
customary places of worship; and they were even allowed to kill cattle
as sacrifices to God, as had been their practice in their previous
idolatry. Hence also arose the system of establishing new churches on
the sites previously held as consecrated by heathen worship.

Of the five old gravestones in the British Museum, four are from
Ireland and one from Fardell in Devonshire. The Fardell stone was
found about the year 1850, acting as a footbridge across a small brook
at Fardell, near Ivybridge, Devonshire--a district once inhabited by
a Celtic tribe. It is of coarse granite, 6 ft. 3 in. high, 2 ft. 9 in.
broad, and from 7 to 9 inches thick. It bears an Ogam inscription on
two angles of the same face, and debased Roman characters on the front
and back. It reads, according to Mr. Brash, in the Ogam, "Safagguc the
son of Cuic;" and, in the Roman, "Fanon the son of Rian."

The three Irish Ogam stones were presented to the British Museum by
Colonel A. Lane Fox, F.S.A., who dug them out of an ancient fort at
Roovesmore, near Kilcrea, on the Cork Railway, where they were
forming the roof of a subterranean chamber. No. 1 cannot be positively
deciphered or translated; No. 2 is inscribed to "the son of Falaman,"
who lived in the eighth century, and also to "the son of Erca," one of
a family of Kings and Bishops who flourished in the ancient kingdom
of Ireland; and No. 3, which is damaged, is supposed to have been
dedicated to a Bishop Usaille, about A.D. 454. All the stones came
probably from some cemetery in the district in which they were found.

It has been remarked that the distribution of these old stones marks
clearly the ancient history of our islands; their frequency or rarity
in each case corresponding accurately with the relations existing in
remote times between Ireland on the one side, and Wales, Cornwall, and
Scotland on the other. Further enquiry into the subject is scarcely to
be expected in this rudimentary work.

To seek for the germ of the gravestone is indeed a far quest. Like the
_ignis fatuus_, it recedes as we seem to approach it. In the sculpture
galleries of the British Museum there are several examples preserved
to us from the ancient Empire of Assyria, and one described as the
"Monolith of Shahnaneser II., King of Assyria, B.C. 850," is almost
the exact counterpart of the headstones which are in vogue to-day. It
stands 5 ft. 6 in. high, is 2 ft. 9 in. wide, and 8 inches thick. Like
the Scottish stones of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it is
inscribed on both faces.



It has been already pointed out, and is probably well known, that the
clergyman of the parish church has possessed from immemorial time the
prerogative of refusing to allow in the churchyard under his control
any monument, gravestone, design, or epitaph which is, in his opinion,
irreverent, indecorous, or in any way unbecoming the solemnity and
sanctity of the place. This authority, wherever exercised, has
been subject to the higher jurisdiction of the Diocesan Bishop, and
presumably to the rule of the Ecclesiastical Courts; but, as we have
seen, the authority has been but indifferently employed, and the
inference is that the clergy have in times past been wofully ignorant
or lamentably careless as to their powers and obligations. A more
healthy system now prevails, and we seldom or never find anything
in the way of ornament, emblem, or inscription of an offensive or
ridiculous character placed in any of our burial-grounds, the Burial
Boards being as strict and watchful over the cemeteries as the rectors
and vicars are in the management of the churchyards. Nor has there
been, so far as we have gone, any difficulty in reconciling this
stringency of supervision with the Acts of Parliament which have been
passed in recognition of religious equality at the grave; and it is
not too much to hope that there is in the present day such universal
prevalence of good taste and propriety under the solemnity of death as
to ensure concurrence among all sects and parties in securing decorum
in all things relating to interments. To the incongruities which have
been left to us as legacies from our ancestors we may be indulgent.
They are landmarks of the generations which created them, and records
of times and manners which we would fain believe that we have left
behind in these days of better education and better thought. They are
therefore of value to us as items of history, and, though we would
not repeat many of them, we shall preserve them, not only because we
reverence the graves of our forefathers, but because they are entitled
to our protection as ancient monuments. However uncouth they may be in
design or expression, they must be tolerated for their age. It cannot
be denied that some of them try our patience, in the epitaphs even
more perhaps than in the carvings, and "merely mock whom they were
meant to honour." Two out of a vast number may be selected as painful
evidences of a departed century's tombstone ribaldry. The first, from
a village near Bath, is a deplorable mixture of piety and profanity,
sentiment and vulgarity:

"To the memory of Thomas and Richard Fry, stonemasons, who
were crushed to death, Aug. the 25th, 1776, by the slipdown
of a wall they were in the act of building. Thomas was 19 and
Richard 21 years.

"They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death
were not divided.

"Blessed are they that die in the Lord, for their works follow

"A sacred Truth: now learn our awful fate.

"Dear Friends, we were first cousins, and what not:
To toil as masons was our humble lot.
As just returning from a house of call,
The parson bade us set about his wall.
Flush'd with good liquor, cheerfully we strove
To place big stones below and big above;
We made too quick work--down the fabric came;
It crush'd our vitals: people call'd out shame!
But we heard nothing, mute as fish we lay,
And shall lie sprawling till the judgment day.
From our misfortune this good moral know--
Never to work too fast nor drink too slow."

The other is at Cray ford, and is as follows:

"Here lieth the body of Peter Isnet, 30 years clerk of this
parish. He lived respected as a Pious and a Mirthful Man, and
died on his way to church to assist at a wedding on the 31st
day of March 1811, aged 70 years. The inhabitants of Crayford
have raised this stone to his cheerful memory and as a Tribute
to his Long and Faithful Services.

"The age of this clerk was just three score and ten,
Nearly half of which time he had sung out _Amen!_
In his youth he was married, like other young men,
But his wife died one day, and he chanted _Amen!_
A second he took. She departed: what then?
He married and buried a third, with _Amen!_
Thus his joys and his sorrows were _Treble_, but then,
His voice was deep _Bass_ as he sung out _Amen!_
On the Horn he could blow as well as most men,
So his horn was exalted in blowing _Amen!_
But he lost all his wind after Three Score and Ten,
And here with Three Wives he waits till again
The trumpet shall rouse him to sing out _Amen!_"

The habit of imitation which we have noticed in the masonry of the
gravestone is even more pronounced in the epitaphs. One of the most
familiar verses is that which usually reads:

"Affliction sore long time I bore,
Physicians were in vain,
Till Death did seize and God did please
To ease me of my pain."

These lines, however, have undergone variations out of number, a not
infrequent device being to adapt them to circumstances by such changes

"Affliction sore short time I bore," etc.

The same idea has an extended application at the grave of Joseph
Crate, who died in 1805, aged 42 years, and is buried at Hendon

"Affliction sore long time I bore,
Physicians were in vain:
My children dear and wife, whose care
Assuaged my every pain,
Are left behind to mourn my fate:
Then Christians let them find
That pity which their case excites
And prove to them most kind."

But the most startling perversion of the original text I saw in the
churchyard at Saundersfoot, South Wales, where the stone-carver
had evidently had his lesson by dictation, and made many original
mistakes, the most notable of which was in the second line:--

"Affliction sore long time I bore,
_Anitions_ were in vain," etc.

The following from Hyden, Yorkshire, is remarkable:

"William Strutton, of Padrington, buried 18th May, 1734,
aged 97 years, who had by his first wife 28 children, by
his second, 17: was own father to 45, grandfather to 86,
great-grandfather to 23; in all 154 children."

Witty tombstones, even when they are not vulgar, are always in bad
taste. Two well-known instances may suffice--

On Dr. Walker, who wrote a book on English

"Here lie Walker's Particles."

On Dr. Fuller:

"Here lies Fuller's Earth."

The same misplaced jocularity must be accountable for an enigmatical
inscription at St. Andrew's, Worcester, on the tomb of a man who died
in 1780, aged 65 years:


This, we are told, should be read as follows:

"Here lyeth the Body of
Richard Weston
In hope of a Joyful Resurrection."

Rhymed epitaphs have a history almost contemporaneous with that of the
old gravestones, having their flourishing period between the middle of
the seventeenth century and the early part of the nineteenth century.
They were little used in England prior to the reign of James the
First, and it is supposed that Mary, Queen of Scots, brought the
custom from France. She is also said to have been an adept at
composing epitaphs, and some attributed to her are extant.

It may be suspected also that other inventors have written a vast
number of the more or less apocryphal elegies which go to make up the
many books of epitaphs which have been published; but this is a point
wide of our subject, and we must be careful in our Rambles that we do
not go astray.


Abbotts, Stapleford, 47. Aberdeen, 89. Aberystwith, 31. Absalom's
Pillar, 98. Acts of Parliament, 58, 59. Afghanistan, 62. Agricultural
gravestones, 32, 33, 34. "Amazon," privateer ship, 81. America, 58.
Anglo-Saxon Churches, 38. Artizaus' gravestones, 31. Ashford, 23.
Assyrian tomb, 104. Atkinson, G. M., on "Ogams." 97.

Balbriggan, 79. Bangor, Ireland, 80, 81. Barking, 43. Barnes, 32.
Barnet, 46, 76. Barra, 101, 102. Bath, 106. Beckenham, 33. Belfast,
78. Belgium, 91. Benenden, 16. Bermondsey, 29. Bethnal Green,
65. Bexley, 41, 42. Bishop of diocese, 73. Black gravestones, 76.
Blackheath, 38. Blacksmith, village, 31. "Blackwood's Magazine,"
75. Blairgowrie, 88. Board of Health, 59. Bodiam, 16. Book of Common
Prayer, 54. Boutell's "Monuments," 36. Braemar, 86, 89. Brandeston,
Suffolk, 56. Brash on "Ogams," 97, 103. Bressay stone, 100. Bretons,
62, 63. Bricklayer's gravestone, 33. British Museum, 99, 103, 104.
Britons, aboriginal, 50. Bromley, 33. Broxbourne, 45. Buckhurst Hill,
45. Bunhill Fields graveyard, 26, 27. Burial in churches, 51. Burial
Service, 54. Burke, Edmund, 51.

Caeesar, 50. Carmichael, Mr., 101. Carpenters' gravestones, 31, 32.
Cattle in churchyards, 55. Chalk, parish of, 13, 14. Champion, S.,
41. Cheltenham, 68. Cheshunt, 22, 69. Chigwell, 46. Chinese,
62. Chingford, 45. Chiselhurst, 19. Christian burial, 50. City
Corporation, 58. Clarkson, D.A., 61. Cliffe, 21. Closing graveyards,
59, 60. Clubbe, Rev. Mr., 55. Cobham, 31. Colchester, court at, 55.
Colvill, Capt., 81. Commonwealth, 53. Continental gravestones,
91. Cooling parish, 23. Cornwall, 100, 104. Covenanters, 84, 86.
Cranbrook, 16, 48. Crayford, 17, 107. Cray Valley, 38. Culbinsgarth,
Shetland, 100. Cuthbert, Archbishop, 49.

Darenth, 21. Dartford, 6, 7, 21, 24, 33. Deptford, 44. Destruction of
gravestones, 75. Devonshire, 100, 103. Dickens country, 11. Diocesan
Chancellor, 73. Disused graveyards, 71. Drogheda, 80. Drury Lane, 58.
Dublin, 78; Museum, 99. Dunblane, 89. Dundee, 87.

Early churchyards, 49. East Ham, 24. East Wickham, 10, 24. Edgware,
46. Edinburgh Museum, 99. Edward VI., 52. Elgin, 89. Elizabeth, Queen,
52. Elphin, 102. Epitaphs, 4, 81, 106. Epping Forest, 43, 45. Erith,
12. Essex, 43, 46. Evolution of gravestones, 9. Expense of preserving
graveyards, 73.

Fardell stone, 103. Farnborough, 18. Fawkham, 22. Figure 4 reversed,
87. Finchley, 18. Foot's Cray, 41. Fox, Col., 103. France, 91, 109;
graveyards in, 57. Freemasons, 29. Frindsbury, 13, 32. Fuller, Dr.,
epitaph, 108.

Gardener's gravestone, 34. Gaskell's "Prymer," 54. Germany, 91, 92,
95, 96. Goudhurst, 16. Goudie, G, 101. Gravediggers, 64. Graves, Dr.,
100. Gravesend, 21, 34. Gravestones, abroad, 91; agricultural, 32;
artizans', 31; bricklayer's, 33; black, 76; carpenters', 31, 32;
evolution of, 9; destruction of, 75; gardener's, 34; grotesque, 10-16;
hunting, 36; incised, 11; Kentish, peculiar, 22; neglected, 64,
71; ornamented, 3, 70, 71; preservation of, 62, 71; primitive, 12;
professional, 31; rough, 78, 86; schoolmaster's, 33; sinking, 64;
unhewn, 78, 86; very old, 97. Graveyards, closing of, 59; disused, 71;
early, 49; preserving, 57; preservation expenses, 73. Greenford, 34.
Gregory, Pope, 103. Grotesque gravestones, 10-16. Gusthorp, ancient
coffin at, 50.

Ham, East, 24. Ham, West, 6, 34, 44. Harrow-on-the-Hill, 34. Hartley,
Kent, 19. Hatfield, 17. Hawkhurst, 16. Hebrides, 101. Heidelberg, 93,
95. Hendon, 23, 24, 66, 95, 108. Henry VIII., 52. Higham, 11, 13. High
Halstow, 12, 13. Hoo, 11, 12. Hornsey, 18, 19, 66. Horton Kirby, 20,
21. House of Commons, 58. Howff, Dundee, 87. Hunting gravestones, 36.
Hyden, Yorkshire, 108.

Incised stones, 11. Inverness, 85, 89. Iona, 101. Ireland, 78, 90, 99,
100, 102, 104. Irish monuments, 102. Isle of Man, 102. Isnet, Peter,
107. Ivybridge, Devonshire, 103.

Jacob and Rachel, 97. James I., 109. Jaw, the lower, 17,18. Jewish
burial-ground, 49.

Keith, Scotland, 89. Kent, tramps in, 35. Kentish gravestones,
peculiar, 22. Keston, 64. Kilbar, Barra, 101. Killaghie, 82.
Killarney, 78, 82. Kingsdown, 22. Kingston-on-Thames, 76, 77. Kirke
White, 75.

Lambourn, 47. Laufen, Zurich, 91, 92. Lee, Kent, 22, 38. Letheringham,
Suffolk, 55. Lewes, Sussex, 4, 5. Lewisham, 17, 26. Limerick, Bishop
of, 100. London, 28, 29, 58, 59, 66, 99. London County Council, 60.
Longfield, 28, 29. Louis XVI., 57. Lucerne, 94. Lunnasting, Shetland,
100. Lydd, 29.

Magh Solga, 102. Malahide, 79. Maroun, Isle of Man, 102. Mary, Queen
of Scots, 109. Medway Marshes, 23. Meopham, 16. Metropolitan Board of
Works, 60. Moorish graveyards, 62. Muckross Abbey, 82.

Neglected gravestones, 64, 71. Neuhausen, 92, 93. Newhaven, 1, 2, 3,
4, 21. New Zealand, 62. Nightcap on skull, 18. Norse memorial, 102.
North Cray, 41. Northolt, Middlesex, 71.

Ogam inscriptions, 97, 100, 103. Old Romney, 17. Ornaments on
gravestones, 3, 70, 71. Orpington, 38, 39.

Padrington, 108. Paganism, 50, 67, 98, 102. Paris, burial reform,
57. Pennant, 85, 87. Penry, J., a Welshman, 53. Pere la Chaise, 57.
Petrie, Dr., 102. Phoenicians, 101. Pickwick Papers, 31. Plumstead, 5,
65. Portrush, 78. Port Victoria, 12. Prayer Book, 54. Preservation
of gravestones, 62, 71. Primitive gravestones, 12. Professional
gravestones, 31. Public Gardens Association, 60. Puritans, 53, 54.

Queen Elizabeth, 52. Queen of Scots, Mary, 109. Queenstown, 78, 82.

Rachel and Jacob, 97. Rector's prerogative, 73, 105. Reform of
graveyards, 57, 66. Rhine Falls, 91. Richmond, 29, 30, 45. Ridley, 10.
Ripley, 30, 45. Rochester, 13, 32. Roden, River, 47. Roman Catholic
gravestones in Scotland, 86. Romans, 49, 101. Romney Marsh, 29.
Romney, Old, 17. Roovesmore, Ireland, 103. Rough gravestones, 78, 86.
Round Tower, 78. Royal Artillery, 27. Rubbings of gravestones, 13.
Runic inscriptions, 83, 101, 102, 103. Rush, Ireland, 79.

St. Mary Cray, 40. St. Oswald, York, 27. St. Patrick, 102. St. Paul's
Cray, 41. Saundersfoot, Wales, 108. Scandinavia, 102. Schaffhausen,
95. Schoolmaster's gravestone, 33. Scotland, 84, 100,104; antiquities,
99; sculptured stones of, 97. Scots Greys, 27. Sculptured stones of
Scotland, 97. Sects of sixteenth century, 53. Sexton, the village, 36,
64, 75. Shahnaneser II. of Assyria, 104. Shetland, 100. Shoreham, 17.
Shorne, 13, 14, 47, 48. Sinking gravestones, 64. Sir Benjamin Brodie,
59. Sir Benjamin Hall's Act, 58. Skulls, grotesque, 11. Slate slabs,
76, 80. Snargate, 24. Southfleet, 25, 48. Stanstead, 16. Stapleford
Abbotts, 47. Stapleford Tawney, 22, 47, 48. Stephens, Dr. G., 83,
102. Stirling, Scotland, 87, 88. Stokes, Miss M., 102. Stone's (Mrs.)
"God's Acre," 62. Stuart, Professor J., 97, 98, 99. Sunda Isles,
62. Sutton at Hone, 33. Swanscombe, 23. Switzerland, 91, 92. Swords,
Ireland, 78.

Table tombs, 86, 89. Tawney, Stapleford, 22, 47, 48. Teddington, 18.
Thames, Upper, 29. Theydon Bois, 46. Tipper ale, 3. Tombs, age of, 51.
Totteridge, 46. Tramps in Kent, 35. Tramps, typical, 35, 43. Turks'
graveyards, 62. Twickenham, 29, 71.

Usaille, Bishop, 104.

Very old gravestones, 97. Victory over Death, 1, 20, 21. Villages and
cities, 28.

Wales, 75, 76, 104, 108. Walker, Dr., epitaph, 108. Walker, Dr. G.A.,
58. Walthamstow, 45. Wanstead, 25, 44, 45. Warwickshire, 75. Weald
of Kent, 16. Weever, antiquary, 35, 52, 53. West Ham, 6, 34, 44. West
Wickham, 19, 29. White, Kirke, 75. Wickham, East, 10, 24. Wickham,
West, 19, 29. Widcombe, Bath, 3. Wilmington, 24, 25 (2). Woolwich, 24,
27, 43, 44. Worcester, 109.

York, 27.

Zurich, Canton, 91.

* * * * *


In Eighteen One Shilling Parts, or bound in Two handsome

at 25s.



_President of the Woolwich Antiquarian Society_.

Comprising Woolwich, Plumstead, Charlton, Shooters' Hill,
Westcombe Park, Eltham, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, and


The Work is Dedicated, by permission, to H.R.H. PRINCE ARTHUR,
DUKE OF CONNAUGHT, and has been graciously accepted by HER
also been universally extolled in the Press, from which the
following are a few extracts:--

"THE RECORDS OF WOOLWICH.--Mr. Freeman long ago suggested that
it would be a useful division of labour if separate towns and
districts were described by those in the several localities
who had special knowledge on the subject, and he himself led
the way in carrying out the design. Of local guide-books so
called there is no end, but what is wanted in each case is an
exhaustive history of the district, its natural formation, its
antiquities, and the many objects of interest that are sure to
abound, and that only want to be brought to light in order to
form material for the future historian of the English nation.
This labour Mr. W.T. Vincent proposes to perform for Woolwich
in a work which he entitles 'The Records of the Woolwich
District.' Mr. Vincent has been engaged in the task for
twelve years. This is the work of a writer who has studied his
subject in all the places where information can be obtained.
The Preface alone will gain the reader's attention, even if
the locality itself had no interest for him. It appears that
Mr. Vincent had scented out the existence of a sealed packet
of papers having reference to Woolwich, and, after a long
hunt, ran the packet to earth in the British Museum. It was
not until the authorities of the War Office had deliberated
for a month on the subject that Mr. Vincent was allowed to see
and open the packet, which was more than a hundred years old,
and contained maps, plans, and views, several of which he
produces."--_The Times_.

"We must resist the temptation to extract, and conclude this
notice by expressing our approval of the numerous _facsimile_
reproductions of old prints illustrative of the text, each on
a leaf of plate paper, while vignettes, maps, and plans are
liberally dispersed through the letterpress, which is executed
by Messrs. Virtue and Co., the well-known printers of the _Art
Journal_. As to the text, the industry, care, research, and
observation expended shew that it has been a labour of love.
No prospect of profit could urge the production of such a
work. It is, therefore, doubly reliable as a contribution
to the antiquarian, topographical, anecdotal, pictorial, and
descriptive history of an interesting locality, executed by
a writer who is 'to the manner born.' We fully hope that Mr.
Thomas Vincent, whose name is not unknown in the literary
world, will reap his reward of fame and respect from his
townsmen, and of fair profit, which his public spirit
deserves."--_The Morning Advertiser_.

"'The Records of the Woolwich District' deal with all the
parishes which surround Shooters' Hill, necessarily dwelling
most fully upon the northern slope. Of Shooters' Hill itself,
and of all the other suburbs, some novel and attractive
tidings may be expected."--_The Kentish Independent._

"There can be no doubt that such a work, adequately and
conscientiously executed, is much needed, and may be of great
value. It has been undertaken by Mr. Vincent, well known as a
journalist in the locality, and as the author of that useful
directory 'Warlike Woolwich.' ... The printing has been
entrusted to Messrs. Virtue and Co., the proprietors of the
_Art Journal_, a sufficient guarantee for its quality. We are
notified that there are over five hundred illustrations to be
introduced, including a series of maps and drawings, included
in the 'sealed packet,' and a hundred and fifty portraits of
public persons, past and present. ... We hope the publication
will command the success it deserves. The object of the author
is evidently not mere money-making; he has undertaken the work
from an earnest and enthusiastic desire to supply a worthy
history of the locality with which he has been for his life
connected, and we congratulate him upon the excellent promise
of his First Number."--_The Kentish Mercury_.

"The elegance of the illustrations at once attracts attention.
The pictures, not only in their abundance and their interest,
but in their exquisite presentment, are really excellent.
Take the first of them, the charming view of 'Pleasant Little
Woolwich,' a steel plate engraved in 1798, and now reproduced
by photographic process. The scene which it presents at a time
when the author tells us this brick-covered, hard-working,
dingy old town was a pretty village, and actually a
fashionable watering-place, to which people came from London
to recruit health, as they now go to Malvern and Scarborough,
is delightful and refreshing beyond measure. The whole of
these illustrations are indeed full of agreeable contemplation
and fruitful in speculation.... He may honestly be
congratulated on the product of his labours, which, he tells
us, have been his recreation for many years. We can well
believe it, and assure him, if he has any regrets at the
impossibility of a pecuniary return, that the satisfaction
which his book will give will be a full reward. Such books
seldom pay; they are not expected to do so, and any one may
tell that there is no profit in the venture. But it will
supply a need, and the writer's name will be handed down to
posterity as having provided a very agreeable book."--_The
Woolwich Gazette_.

"The neighbourhood, rich as it is in historical material, has
hitherto met with scanty recognition from historians, and
we welcome Mr. Vincent's efforts to supply the need, and the
generous spirit of his labours. He has spared no pains to make
the records complete. Patient research and much literary skill
are combined in the letterpress and woodcuts, engravings,
drawings, and photographs, with maps and plans, which have
been lavishly introduced by way of illustration.... We
content ourselves now with pointing out its great value and
entertaining power. The style is easy, and the writer is
happily successful in his endeavour to avoid any appearance
of merely dry-as-dust research."--_The Eltham, Sidcup, and
District Times_.

"It is a work which should prove of vast interest in our
district, and we ought to say very far beyond it, for
there must be many who, though not now residing in the area
comprised in the 'Records,' would be glad to possess the book
on its existence becoming known."--_The Erith Times_.

"Mr. W.T. Vincent's 'Records of the Woolwich District' is
undoubtedly the first volume which pretends to give a full and
concise history of the whole district."--_The Bexley Heath and
Erith Observer_.

* * * * *

Order of Mr. W.T. VINCENT, 189 Burrage Road, Woolwich; of Messrs.
MITCHELL and HUGHES, 140 Wardour Street, London, W.; or of any






Elegantly printed on toned paper, and handsomely bound in
green cloth, gilt lettered, 440 pages, demy octavo, with
Frontispiece and several Illustrations. Post free for 12s.
6d., from G.O. HOWELL, 210 Eglinton Road, Plumstead, Kent.
* * * * *


"One of the best works of the kind that has yet been given to
us by the press."--_The Kentish Independent_.

"Edited by Mr. G.O. Howell, which is in itself a guarantee of
its excellence."--_Rochester and Chatham Times_.

"The Editor deserves to be complimented on the excellence of
his production."--_Gravesend and Dartford Reporter_.

"Few antiquarian publications with which we are acquainted
are more generally interesting or better conducted."--_Cardiff
Weekly Mail_.

"The information is gathered from all points of the compass
in the county, and is arranged with the care of a skilful and
experienced hand." --_Chatham and Rochester News_.

"The articles and notes present a rich fund of information,
which cannot fail to delight the archaeological mind, and
prove highly interesting to the general reader."--_Gravesend


With Illuminated Plate of Arms of the Bishop of Bath and Wells
and 10 other Plates of Arms, etc.

Imperial octavo, L2 2s. Large Paper Copies, L3 3s.



* * * * *

Crown folio, cloth. Volume I. now ready, price L3 10s.

* * * * *


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