The Monuments

The cemetery is a fascinating reflection of the changes in taste in monumental architecture and design. This is illustrated by the variety of style ranging from the simplicity of early slate headstones (D132), to the Gothic revival (A199), the Egyptian style (A133) and the weighty marble of the late Victorian period (D29). Granite, marble, slate and sandstone were all used for monuments and headstones, the name of the monumental mason often appearing at the base.

 

Commonly understood symbols were often incorporated into headstone designs. The anchor, an early Christian symbol, signified hope (A14) and the obelisk, eternal life (also A14). The hourglass, appearing on the headstone (A259) of the little Sugg children, suggested tempus fugit (time flies), whilst the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Clasped hands are frequently found on the graves of married couples, signifying farewell (A61) and the open book represents faith (A292). Many monuments carry carved swags and bunches of flowers - amongst them grapes and vine leaves, ears of wheat signifying fruitfulness harvested, lily of the valley for purity (B17), ivy symbolising immortality and friendship and the rose meaning free of sin. The urn, whith its classical associations, appears frequently on the larger monuments and, when draped, symbolises death (A287).

 

Some monuments are, however. more individual. James Tilson's cricketing career is memorialised by gloves, ball and stumps (A219) and John Manners' trade as a stone mason and builder is shown in the trowel, pick and plumb line on his memorial (B169).

 

Though many inscriptions appear formulaic, there are occasional flashes of sombre originality, as shown on William Hunt's memorial:

 

A guilty, weak and helpless worm,

On thy kind arms I fall,

Be thou my strength and righteousness,

My Jesus and my all. (A357)

 

More touching is a verse reflecting the closeness of Ann and William Baker, a married couple who died within two weeks of each other:

 

Support and confidence - the elim and the vine,

They grew together, one their joys and pains.

Death would not sever such love entwine,

One life they led and here one grave contains. (B187)

 

Emma White's memorial was erected on 'a mark of her ten children' (B213). The stone mason's omission of 'the beloved wife of' on Elizabeth Harriman's grave was corrected, though the inscription does have a squashed appearance (D230). But who was responsible for the misspelling of 'outrode' on James Wilkinson's grave? (D280)

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