Archive for the ‘cemeteries’ Tag

DT #263, 20 September 2014 (Weighbridge Brinkworth Village)   1 comment

weighbridge brinkworth village christ church cemetery


Here’s to the Brewers.
A pleasant time had by all
Except, maybe, them.

Name: Weighbridge Brinkworth Village
Type: bitter
Venue: Christ Church, Swindon

Review/notes: I stopped by the Autumn Fayre at Christ Church because my neighbour was working a display there (along with the vicar’s wife).  The church is grand inside and well worth a visit but there were crowds within and a beer tent just outside.  I fetched a Weighbridge Brewhouse Brinkworth Village and retired to the cemetery whereupon I found a monument to Brewers almost immediately.

Frank, who was noted at the top, had a bunch of letters after his name.  I knew O.B.E. but was curious about C.M.G. and looked them up when I returned home.  It is an honour known as “Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George,” for non-military exemplary service to the Crown whilst overseas.  Turns out, our Frank was a high-ranking civil servant in the China and Malaya offices (as well as serving in the Special Forces in WW2 and being held POW in Sumatra).  Nice find.  Cheers, Frank.

The CMG, for those others that had not a clue and need some juvenile way of assessing its importance, was fictionally awarded to James Bond as well as the Brigadier (in Doctor Who).

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January



The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire   1 comment

Three Tuns Great Bedwyn sign

Jackie had a short day at work (11-3) but I had a long run overdue for the weekend.  Scouring the empty space on the pub map for a candidate trail, I found a nice bit through the Savernake Forest toward Great Bedwyn from Marlborough.  The path through the middle of the forest is dead straight and quiet and only a little undulating and, on this pleasant morning, filled with birdsong.

2014-09-07 run route

At the forest’s exit (reached beneath a dense canopy), you are confronted by a huge gate with no fence on either side of it and some signage stating the property is protected by Gurkhas…impressive and weird.  A few hundred metres to the northeast you can get off the B-highway onto the drive toward St. Katherine’s Church, a 19th-century parish house that looks a lot older.  Their Sunday Service is in the evening so I could have taken a peek inside but I was in a hurry so only stopped for a drink of water.

St Katharine's Church near Stokke 2

Once back out on the paved roads, I was confronted by a regatta of cyclists who seemed equally amused and bemused that there was a runner in this remote section of Wiltshire.  The verge was nearly non-existent and there was more automotive traffic than I had expected, but eventually I found my target, The Three Tuns (which opens at 10 am on Sunday–twenty minutes before my arrival).  I was served a pint of Good Old Boy and retired to the garden to consider the day.


St Mary's Great Bedwyn


Leaving the pub, I changed the planned route slightly from a direct shot to the tow path to include a pass by the Church of St Mary, started in 1092 on top of a Saxon church, and which houses a memorial to Sir John Seymour (one of Henry VIII’s fathers-in-law).  As it was in the middle of Sunday morning service, I satisfied myself with some exterior views and a short wander around the cemetery before heading on.  Besides, Ii had already been to my temple:

Three Tuns Great Bedwyn

Hannah Twynnoy and the “Ladies” of Malmesbury   3 comments

hannah twynnoy 1

I don’t know if you can make it out from the photograph, but the gravestone — in the grounds of Malmesbury Abbey, which we visited this week — is for Hannah Twynnoy, a barmaid that was the first person killed by a tiger in Britain.  It reads:

Hannah Twynnoy
Who died October 23rd, 1703
Aged 33 Years

In bloom of life
She’s snatched from hence.
She had not room
To make defence;
For Tyger fierce
Took life away
And here she lies
In a bed of clay
Until the Resurrection Day.

Truly fantastic.  Malmesbury has great signage everywhere, though.  Read this one out loud, for instance (an advert for a knitting circle but sounds like a lady-boy support group):

malmesbury chicks with sticks

Kensal Green Cemetery, London   4 comments

Oh. My. Dear. Lord.  What a great park!  And, so full of good architecture and points of historic reflection you feel it is a pity that it is so sacred a place…I get the same feeling in good churches, but I really love a decent cemetery and Kensal Green is one of the best I have ever seen, filled with more of the great and good than you could hope to find in a single visit. Here was our little tour from Thursday (the first here, but certainly not the last).

We entered and got a quick guide to some of the interesting sites, but it took a minute or two to orient ourselves; Jackie really wants to be dragged off to immortality in one of these horse hearses so I took a quick shot of it:

kensal green 02 hearse 2

Near our entrance we examined a few interesting decorations like the one for the “Special Lady” and another for the Queens Park Rangers fan (the blue and white is the jersey of the local football club).

kensal green 03 qpr shirt  kensal green 05 special lady

Also nearby, we found the Rattigan family plot under which, unmarked, you will find the ashes of Terence (I do love the boy’s plays).

kensal green 04 rattigan

I learned most from the pamphlet we bought from the Friends of the Kensal Green Cemetery the founder of which was an Honours Doctor of Arts (which I had to look up thinking he was a Dutch veterinarian or ‘hondarts’). He might well have designed the clever coat of arms, though.

kensal green 06 jws litten detail  kensal green 07 jws litten

The statuary is unusually intact in this garden and the first decapitated monument was for George Solon Ladd that, it turns out, was a pioneer of radio communications.

kensal green 08 george solon ladd radio man

The next one was an unusual little altar for Elisabetta Lamertini, the only Google search of which I could find was a woman working on a civil engineering PhD (which could be used to design a repair plan for her namesake’s monument).

kensal green 09 elisabetta lambertini

Before heading on to the great and good, here are some of the other cool monuments we found around the grounds. Elizabeth Prince had a nice azure glass and white marble plot, while Thea Altieri got a fantastic metal statue of the Spirit of Ecstasy. There was some nice glass on the Caxton stone, and several of the Caribbean spots were crowded with family artefacts.

Prince's blue and white

Prince’s blue and white

Spirit of Ecstacy

Spirit of Ecstasy



kensal green 51 busy grave

Close family

We headed toward the dissenter’s section (unlike Bunhill which is small and all for dissenters — but still marvelous and yet only mentioned obliquely in these pages — Kensal Green has a separate section for non C of E residents) and along the way spotted Jean Francois Blondin, a tight rope walker famous for crossing Niagra.

kensal green 13 jean francois blondin

There was also the great monument, left by the celebrity chef Alexis Soyer to his wife Emma with the inscription “To Her.” Awesome stuff. We found this while unsuccessfully searching for Wilkie Collins, a much less magnificent stone.

kensal green 17 to her

Another we found, on purpose, was Dr. James Miranda Barry. Hard to read, the stone marks one of the most singularly interesting characters of the 19th century…a doctor from modest means who was the first to perform a modern Caesarian section, served in every major military venue contemporary with their achievements, fought several duels over their carriage, became Inspector General of surgical hospitals, fought with Florence Nightingale, oh, right, AND was discovered to actually be a woman after his/her death.

kensal green 18 dr james (miranda) barry 2  kensal green 19 dr james (miranda) barry 1

We found an interesting rock over John Hobhouse who was Lord Byron’s friend and Best Man and who travelled with him. Hobhouse later founded the Royal Geographic Society.

kensal green 20 john cam hobhouse

The Egyptian mausoleum of Andrew Ducrow was a puzzlement. Turns out he was an acrobatic equestrian that presented plays entirely on horseback (hence the hat and gloves at the base).

kensal green 22 andrew ducrow  kensal green 23 andrew ducrow detail  kensal green 24 andrew ducrow 3  kensal green 25 andrew ducrow hat gloves

The metal cross nearby is still a question mark for us:

kensal green 26 metal cross near andrew ducrow

Edmund Molyneux was a nice find as we have spent many happy times in Savannah, Georgia where he was British Consul from 1831 until the middle of the Civil War.

Molyneux, our Savannah connection

Molyneux, our Savannah connection

The four angels atop the temple to Mary Gibson deserve a better story; Mary died of kidney disease at 18.

Mary Eleanor Gibson

Mary Eleanor Gibson

William Mulready has a spectacular monument with incredible detail in his death sculpture and nice little incised bits of his artwork (he was a book illustrator and painter).

kensal green 33 william mulready 3

kensal green 32 william mulready 2

kensal green 31 william mulready 1

William Casement’s little temple is supported by the bodies of those he ruled in life as the Governor-General of India. He is actually buried in Calcutta, so this is an especially arrogant installation.

kensal green 36 william casement

The Brunel Family plot was anticipated to be ostentatious, massive, and perhaps gaudy as they had been responsible for so many massive and important engineering projects–many still in use today. Their simple stone was like an after dinner mint cleansing the funereal palate.

kensal green 38 brunel

Nearby, though, Commander Ricketts ornately detailed box is fairly eye-catching. Rickets went to sea as a boy and served under Nelson and later married into money and became High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire.

kensal green 37 charles spnecer ricketts

We knew Thackery was nearby but the stones were too weathered on top to make out the names or dates. On the end of this one, though, we saw the distinctive monogram of William Makepeace Thackery still intact.

William Makepeace Thackery's rock

William Makepeace Thackery’s rock

kensal green 39 william makepeace thackery detail

The name Percy Smythe rang a bell (but not George Augustus Frederick Percy Sydney Smythe, nor did 7th Viscount Strangford). Looking him up later we found him to be a novelist and friend of Disraeli. He was also a mouthy git which led him to fight many duels, including the last one in England.

Viscount Strangford

Viscount Strangford

Feargus O’Connor has an interesting hexagonal spire for his headstone. He was a social reformer and muckraker who drew 50,000 to his funeral.

kensal green 43 feargus o'connor

It is probably best to end this little trip with something simple but quite moving in its own way. Boots Davidson was credited as the guy that brought steel drum music to England and taught music and founded important bands in the genre for decades thereafter. Here are his markers…simple, austere, and they actually stand out in stark contrast the thousands of tons of marble nearby.

kensal green 44 boots davidson cross

Philmore “Boots” Davidson, cross

kensal green 45 boots davidson marker

and marker

Highland Cemetery, Portsmouth, Hampshire   Leave a comment

The Highland Cemetery was near our B&B in Southsea so we decided to go see how it was.  Turned out, this was an especially nice little death park worthy of a visit even if out-of-the-way.  There were a number of Dickens’ relatives here as well as many Victoria Cross awardees but the major attraction for us were the well-maintained grounds and the mostly intact statuary.  I’ve put some notes for the ones I remember the details of, below.

The anchor and Nelson hat were for a chief bursar of the Royal Navy.  The rock is in the midst of cleaning.

highland cemetery monument 12  highland cemetery monument 11

More of the angels are intact here than any other cemetery I have been to in the last 30 years.  The other monuments are also impressively devoid of vandalism.

highland cemetery monument 9  highland cemetery monument 8

The crosses are especially ornate and the Victoria Cross winners have especially well kept graves (in the home of the Royal Navy, this is no surprise except when you consider the shitty state of military cemeteries in the States).  This ground also has an inordinate number of Royal Red Cross recipients:

highland cemetery monument 7  highland cemetery monument 6


The remainder are just some of the many worthy monuments awaiting your visit:

highland cemetery monument 4  highland cemetery monument 3  highland cemetery monument 2  highland cemetery monument 1

Liverpool trip   1 comment

Liverpool is very nice and I think it may become one of my favourite cities worldwide.  There were aspects that reminded me of my all time fave, Chicago–good local music scene, populated waterfront, recognisable neighbourhood demarcations, a pride in their Liverpudlianess akin to the pride Chicagoans take in their citizenship, and an amusing and parochial accent.  To a lesser extent it also reminded me a bit of Athens Georgia, Austin Texas, and the Hague.  Too cool.

Billy Fury near the Albert Docks

The funniest thing I spotted was probably only funny to me…the Liverpool School of English: students from all over the world coming here to learn english from scousers has got to have some of the most surreal results possible.  If you don’t know what I’m on about, try googling English/Scouse translations (and don’t forget that everything that requires animation in the delivery must be said two to three octaves higher in pitch).

We did a National Trust tour of Mendips (John Lennon’s childhood home) and the Forthlin Road council house that Paul McCartney spent his adolescence in.  The couple that gave the two tours actually reside in Mendips and had very inciteful prepared lectures on the formative years the boys experienced and neat tidbits of their respective family lives.  Paul’s place was pretty nice for council housing, but John’s Aunt Mimi really lived the middle class dream (aside from taking in student lodgers, of course).  I know I must have kept muttering, “working class hero, my ass,” but no one else seemed to notice.

Sir Paul’s boyhood home

The two clock towers in the background are parts of the Liver building (LYE-verr) on top of which you’ll spot the Liver birds, the city’s emblem which appear everywhere. Refurbishment of the quays making up the Albert and Queen’s Docks goes on and while a bit touristy it has resulted in the reopening of the highest concentration of listed (ie, architecturally important) buildings in the country.

The Cathedral was finished in the 1970’s and is the largest in the country.  It was Armed Forces Day, so we couldn’t make it to the towers but I can’t imagine the building is going anywhere.

The Cathedral was build on the edge of an old quarry which has been the city cemetery and is now a nice park, shielded from the wind that howls in off the Mersey:

The Chinatown is the oldest in Europe, but pretty small (compared to say Paris or Amsterdam).

This monument to emigration (to America) was fairly amusing.  Still, three out means there’s room for two in:

Emigration to America…fools

The Queensway Tunnel building caught me by surprise with it’s great deco touches.  No sketchbook with me and only a short stay anyway, but I could’ve spent hours around this:

The Obligatory Visit in Liverpool must be to the Cavern, but the alleys around it are the most egregious example of a tourist trap in the whole city.  It isn’t even the Cavern, which was torn down for a car park in the 70’s.  It is claimed that the rebuilt building used the original bricks but you get different stories depending on how you ask the question (“Only the original bricks? Where were they stored in the meantime? So, this place is smaller than before?”).  The outside wall is emblazoned with the names of acts that performed in the original building, except for 2:

On Thursday we saw Don McLean at the Philharmonic, and it was a fantastic concert.  Yeah, there was the inevitable American Pie singalong (which I bet he absolutely hates), but in the two and a half hours before that he put on a great show.  The hall is a real treasure with good acoustics and an intimate atmosphere, as well.

I could really imagine living here if the right job came up (and I was lucky enough to land it).  Housing is increadibly cheap (half what it is in Swindon, which we moved to because housing was so cheap), restaurants were a bargain and really good, and there are empty housing spaces above shops in the city centre.  It is something to keep in mind down the road once I get a few things done at the old school.

Empty storetops, but some of them are apartments

USA trip: Dunlap, Tennessee in general   1 comment

“If you get to the donkey you’ve gone too far.”

For a town full of military folk, it’s strange that this is the first ever Veteran’s Memorial

Yep, been drinkin’ and, yep, been quite ill for a few days, but after awhile here this sort of statement is normal regardless of how ridiculous it looks in print.  At least these are just street directions and not some sort of hard won ‘Tijuana Juisdom’.  We are back in the UK now, but we’ve already worked this into our lexicon usually as a chastisement, e.g., “Oh, you’re way past the donkey.”

Speaking of drinking, after our first day to ourselves or, rather, our first two hours to ourselves we had planned a quiet  meal at the mom-in-law’s and to watch the ALDS game (Rangers v Yankees) and arrived home to find that we had been scheduled for yet another command performance (this time at some of Jackie’s rabid but relatively tolerable relations’ place…a couple I actually LIKE to visit, in fact).  Sent to find a suitable wine to carry with us, I spotted this bottle:

Actually, Sassy Bitch but fotoshopped to show it as the dyslexia presented it to me…how apropos!

We’d been driving around a bit, as you do, and went up on “the mountain” to see Jackie’s uncles’ property…pretty nice stuff up there, a lot of it was already in the family long before her grandpa Bill went off on his long Federal vacation in Kentucky for producing fine distilled spirits during prohibition (that Prohibition fiasco was exemplified in movies about bootleggers and Al Capone was done and dusted by 1933, for you lot in the civilised world).  We stopped for a visit at the window rock which has so much dubious folklore attached to it that I decline to add anymore to it…some indian nonsense or other.  The modern folklore is more interesting such as the way like minded individuals might be just on the other side of the rock from one another:

Still it is a great place to have a wee climb and nearby there are some great views of the valley (but the photos all came out a bit ‘flat’ as it was a hazy day) at the hang gliding club’s leap-off point.  Beautiful territory up there and the next trip (hopefully years away) I’m going to hit the logging road for a long run.

We had a visit to Chapel Hill, where most of Jackie’s people attend church and quite a few of them are buried.  We always stop by on our way out of town and have a drink with her brother (may he rest well), but the little cemetery is worth a walk around sitting in the shadow of Signal Mountain and with a good look across the Sequatchie Valley.  There’s also a rough little beer joint 200 meters away that is always worth a visit.

One trend noticed on this visit was the use of laser imaging on rock:

and on brass:

Religion is big here…even more so in the mid south than in America in general, and added to the overall WILLFUL stupidity of the region (hey, sorry, but they’re my people so I get to be judgemental about it) this can result in something amusing and embarassing in almost equal measure.  Here’s a good example, a front yard out on the highway that I ran past in December 2008:

December 2008

is still holding up the tradition of psycho-religio-babble at this time:

October 2010

God bless America, I guess.

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