Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Around and About / Gravestones / Hand-Carved 18th Century Gravestone, Marlpool Cemetery

John Lennon once sang "Life is what happens to you / While you`re busy making other plans". I`m guessing the reason that`s one of his best-known quotes is because so many of us can identify with it !

Anyhow, when I posted `Around and About / Gravestones / A Local Hero` on 29 November 2009, I fondly imagined our camera would be my constant companion and I`d be happily posting images of the countryside, old buildings etc on a regular basis. In real life, no such thing has happened of course.

Knowing I`d be passing through Marlpool cemetery again today, I remembered my camera and came back with one or two interesting (I hope) images.

This is an 18th century gravestone of a type sometimes seen in Derbyshire. As you can probably tell, the carving is crude - really, it`s just `chiselling` and no stonemason today would turn out anything of this quality except as a joke.

The workman was only semi-literate, and his spacing is terrible. The stone appears to mark the passing of Isaac and Mary Farweworth, though I suspect that is not an accurate rendering of their name. Isaac died in 1712, and the date of his death seems to be represented as "1712 : S : Y5". The date for Mary`s death seems to have been left incomplete. The last two lines (not all visible in my picture) are "The mother of ... children" - the number seemingly worn away and unreadable now.

It would be very easy to poke fun at the dreadful spacing, spelling errors and non-existent punctuation, but I`ll not be doing so. Anyone who`s spent a bit of time walking in the Peaks has probably come across hand-carved milestones of a similar vintage with place-names mis-spelt or rendered in local dialect by negligibly-educated local men, and as I say, this gravestone is of a type sometimes found in Derbyshire. Old softy that I am, I like to feel it`s a bit of local culture that`s survived and should be preserved. Part of me feels that they have a sort of primitive quality that`s quite fitting when marking a death, though I couldn`t really explain why I feel that way.

An interesting question arises why such an old stone should be in the Marlpool cemetery, which I would have thought was not that old. I can`t say I`ve noticed others of a similar vintage there. If I find out, I`ll post some details.

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