Wednesday, 8 August 2012

On memorable tombstones in the Moorlands

Taphophilia - the study of gravestones might be considered a gloomy subject, but there are many gems to be uncovered in country churchyards. The Moorlands has a number of excellent examples, which cast an interesting light on the lives of people of the past. In Longnor lies the celebrated William Billings an old soldier who fought with Marlborough at Ramillies and distinguished himself at the Siege of Gibraltar in 1704
"Billeted by death, I quartered here remain,
When the trumpet sounds, I’ll rise and march again.

If longevity is merit than there is the tombstone in Horton raised by public subscription to perpetuate the memory of Mary Brooke who died in 1787 at the age of 119 having lived through the reign of 7 monarchs. In Endon there is another ancient Billy Willet who as a hale young man bragged that he began dancing at "Mester Fordo’yon bonk about se’en o’clock at neet o’ the second of September and never stopt whiole daylee to th fourteenth. The trick is that he danced during the old calendar replaced the new on the 2nd September 1752 which was followed by the 14th September to make up the gap in time.

In Leek Church there is a rare monumental Elizabethan brass to John Ashenhurst with his 4 wives not forgetting his many children dressed in the clothes of the time. The churchyard holds the bones of French servicemen of the time of Napoleon.

 And there is a momento mori from 1749.
As I was so ye be
As I am so shall ye be
That I gave that I have
That I spent that I had
In Rushton Spencer there is a monument to Thomas Meaykin who was buried on 16th July 1781 as the inscription reads " As a man falleth before united men so fell I" Two words in the Greek alphabet follow bia thanatos meaning to die violently

I have to say my favourite and very witty memorial is in Suffolk at Bramfield in concerns Bridgett Applethwaite who died in the 1740s

"After the fatigues of a married life bravely born by her with Incredible Patience for four years and three quarters bating three weeks; and after the Enjoiment of the Glorious Freedom of an Easy and Unblemish't widowhood, for four years and upwards, She resolved to run the risk of a second Marriage-bed".