Thursday, 7 April 2011

How we are remembered...


Just as Alan (News from Nowhere) collects old postcards and is fascinated by the lives glimpsed through them, so I am fascinated by old graves.  This one, in the graveyard surrounding the old church of St Mary's in Stoke Newington, was almost unreadable but you can just make out "Elizabeth....died on 11 December 1781 aged 15 (?) years in consequence of her cloaths taking fire the preceeding evening."  Her surname is unclear - it could be Baratt.  How sad though.  I suppose long dresses and open fires weren't a good mix.


Near the old church is Abney Park Cemetery, an arboretum, nature reserve and garden cemetery that was opened in 1840 and is the resting place of many famous non-conformists, including several involved with the abolition of the slave trade.  It also holds the graves of William Booth and his wife Catherine, founders of the Salvation Army, their son Branwell and several other notable Salvationists.   The inscription says: William Booth, Founder and 1st General of the Salvation Army, Born 1829, Born again in the Spirit 1845, Founded the Salvation Army 1865, Went to Heaven 29th August 1912.  Also Catherine Booth, the Mother of the Salvation Army, Born 1829, Went to Heaven 4th October 1890.

Do you ever ponder upon what you'd like on your gravestone? (Even though not that many people actually have one any more).  There's a lot of comfort in the thought that God loves us all equally - young Elizabeth who hardly had time to make her mark on life, as much as the Booths whose good works live on, a century and a half later.

16 comments:

  1. I agree, cemeteries are fascinating! I love both the photo and your comments about how God values all the lives, long and short.

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  2. I, also have a fascination for gravestones. Poor Elizabeth, what an awful way to go.

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  3. I love reading gravestones too, but have no idea what I would like on mine.

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  4. In this part of the world our passing is marked on memorial park benches, or in the graveyards or on the roadsides with plastic flowers. They certainly knew how to do it in your cemeteries!

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  5. Your first photo is lovely. I plan to have my ashes scattered near a bench in Elizabeth Park, with a little plaque in my name. That way I can be useful to folks needing to sit and I can be surrounded by beauty.

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  6. I don't see such sentences on graves anymore; Only a name and two dates. I never thought about my own grave. But I like to visit cemeteries. and I want to rest in Menton, the place is upon a hill surrounded by the sea,there are cypree-trees and doves singing in them, with a view to the italian border..

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  7. So rare anymore to find gravestones that actually have something like that written on them. Such a sad story. And interesting juxtaposition of Elizabeth's situation and that of Booth.

    I love walking through old English churchyards!

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  8. I am fascinated by old grave markers too! These are lovely.

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  9. What I love about OLD graveyards is the old, cold, weathered stone and the mosses that grow in all the cracks and crannies. New graveyards hold no appeal to me at all.

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  10. Reading old grave markers are fascinating and can lead one to guess about their lives and circumstances. That grave certainly does look over 200 years old.

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  11. I'm with you in that I enjoy visiting old cemeteries and grave sites and reading the inscriptions...

    Re your comment on Kangaroo gas: I thought it would make you jump! ;-)

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  12. That sort of death was not uncommon in the days of long skirts and open fires -- especially where the cooking was done in the fireplace.

    I've always said that I wanted on my gravestone "She made a lot of dogs very happy."

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  13. I like gravestones as well - and for the same reason that I like old postcards. They provide a thread to the past - a thread that isn't just genetic (family history) but is more diverse and therefore potentially more interesting.

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  14. I don't suppose I've told you I once imagined creating a coffee table book on cemeteries from around the world...? They tell such fascinating stories, of individuals and of cultures. I myself do not wish for a gravestone, but will be satisfied if I can make my little contribution to leaving the world just a little better... Working on it in earnest.

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  15. I didn't know that Catherine Booth was buried here. It's a far cry from the market town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, where she was born!

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  16. We have an old cemetery in our village with gravestones from the late 1700s and I too am kind of fascinated with them, but have never even thought of what I would like on mine until of course you posed the question. ~Lili

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