Friday, 20 January 2012

Donna Florinda Miller 1860-1864 - Necton

© Godric Godricson

Donna Florinda Miller  (Donna Floanda in the IGI)  1860-1864

Christened  19 February 1860  Necton

Daughter of Thomas (1817 Little Dunham d. 1884)  a tailor and Amelia Miller (b. 1827, d. 1893)

Sister to  Elijah, (b 1845) Hagar Amelia (1849-1888), Walter Holmes (1853-1932), Omer Edward (1856-) 

Ann Kirbell d. September 1779 - Buried Necton

© Godric Godricson
Ann Kirbell of South Pickenham died September 1779

Sarah  Kirbell 22 March 1767 South Pickenham

Elizabeth Kirbell  03 March 1771  South Pickenham

Elizabeth Kirbell  24 May 1772  South Pickenham

Maria Kirbell  08 September 1776  South Pickenham  married William Bayes 26 November 1783   South Pickenham  son Thomas Bayes b. 10 September  1786   South Pickenham

(The dates for the children relate to christenings)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Thos. Heming - Swanton Morley

© Godric Godricson

Thos Heming—Attorney.
Weep, widows, orphans; all your late support,
Himself is summon’d to a higher court:
Living he pleaded yours, but with this clause,
That Christ at death should only plead his cause.

Title: Gleanings in Graveyards a collection of Curious Epitaphs Author: Horatio Edward Norfolk

Thomas Jolly - Deopham (1847)

“At Deopham, near Hingham, a skeleton has been found, underneath the floor of an old barn, which was being pulled down, and it is supposed to be the remains of Thomas Jolly, aged 20, the heir of the estate, who was missing 52 years since, and is supposed to have been murdered.  A piece of his dress and a small portion of his handkerchief were also found.”

Title: Norfolk Annals  A Chronological Record of Remarkable Events in the Nineteeth Century, Vol. 1     Author: Charles Mackie

Brightmer Trollop b.1811 - August 20th 1881

Brightmer Trollop
1811 -1881
© Godric Godricson

Brightmer Trollop (Blacksmith) married Sarah Dawson in 1838 in nearby Swaffham and had the following children.

  1. Brightmer Trollop, b. 1838, Necton, Norfolk, England, d. date unknown.
  2. William Trollop, b. 1845, Necton, Norfolk, England, d. date unknown.
  3. James Trollop, b. 1848, Necton, Norfolk, England, d. date unknown.
  4. Mary Ann Trollop, b. 1850, Necton, Norfolk, England, d. date unknown.
  5. George Trollop, b. 1853, Necton, Norfolk, England, d. date unknown.
  6. Maria Trollop, b. 1858, Necton, Norfolk, England, d. date unknown.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dean Croft Norwich Cathederal - 1811

"Died, the Rev. Philip Wodehouse, brother of Lord Wodehouse, and a Prebendary of Norwich Cathedral, aged 66.  In digging the grave for the interment of the deceased, beneath the organ loft at the Cathedral, the workmen found, two feet beneath the surface, a stone coffin enclosing a wooden shell containing the body of Dean Croft, who died in 1670.  “His remains were found apparently in a perfect state, excepting the tip of the nose, and the shroud was a little discoloured.”

Title: Norfolk Annals  A Chronological Record of Remarkable Events in the Nineteeth Century, Vol. 1     Author: Charles Mackie

Thursday, 12 January 2012

"Miracles and supernatural religion" 1903

SYNOPSIS.—Arbitrary criticism of the Biblical narratives of the raising of the "dead."—Facts which it ignores.—The subject related to the phenomena of trance, and records of premature burial.—The resuscitation in Elisha's tomb probably historical.—Jesus' raising of the ruler's daughter plainly a case of this kind.—His raising of the widow's son probably such.—The hypothesis that his raising of Lazarus may also have been such critically examined.—The record allows this supposition.—Further considerations favoring it: 1. The real interests of Christianity secure.—2. The miracle as a work of mercy.—3. Incompetency of the bystanders' opinion.—4. Congruity with the general conception of the healing works of Jesus, as wrought by a peculiar psychical power.—Other cases.—The resurrection of Jesus an event in a wholly different order of things.—The practical result of regarding these resuscitations as in the order of nature.

Of resuscitation from apparent death seven cases in all are recorded,—three in the Old Testament and four in the New. Some critics arbitrarily reject all but one of these as legendary. Thus Oscar Holzmann, in his recent Leben Jesu, treats the raising of the widow's son, and of Lazarus. But he accepts the case of the ruler's daughter on the ground that Jesus is reported as saying that it was not a case of real but only of apparent death,—"the child is not dead, but sleepeth." But for the preservation of this saving declaration in the record, this case also would have been classed with the others as unhistorical. And yet the admission of one clear case of simulated death, so like real death as to deceive all the onlookers but Jesus, might reasonably check the critic with the suggestion that it may not have been a solitary case. The headlong assumption involved in the discrimination made between these two classes, viz. that in a case of apparent but unreal death the primitive tradition can be depended on to put the fact upon record, is in the highest degree arbitrary and unwarrantable.

The scepticism which lightly contradicts the Biblical narratives of the raising of the "dead" to life is seemingly ignorant of facts that go far to place these upon firm ground as historical occurrences. Catalepsy,or the simulation of death by a trance, in which the body is sometimes cold and rigid, sensation gone, the heart still, is well known to medical men. In early times such a condition would inevitably have been regarded and treated as actual death, without the least suspicion that it was not so. Even now, the dreadful mistake of so regarding it sometimes occurs. So cautious a journal as the London Spectator a few years ago expressed the belief that "a distinct percentage" of premature burials "occurs every year" in England.

The proper line of critical approach to the study of the Biblical narratives of the raising of the "dead" is through the well-known facts of the deathlike trance and premature burial. Where burial occurred, as in the East, immediately after the apparent death, resuscitation must have been rare. Yet cases of it were not unknown. Pliny has a chapter "on those who have revived on being carried forth for burial." Lord Bacon states that of this there have been "very many cases." A French writer of the eighteenth century, Bruhier, in his "Dissertations sur l'Incertitude de la Mort et l'Abus des Enterrements," records seventy-two cases of mistaken pronouncement of death, fifty-three of revival in the coffin before burial, and fifty-four of burial alive. A locally famous and thoroughly attested case in this country is that of the Rev. William Tennent, pastor in Freehold, New Jersey, in the eighteenth century, who lay apparently dead for three days, reviving from trance just as his delayed funeral was about to proceed. One who keeps a scrap-book could easily collect quite an assortment of such cases, and of such others as have a tragic ending, both from domestic and foreign journals. A work published some years ago by Dr. F. Hartmann exhibits one hundred and eight cases as typical among over seven hundred that have been authenticated.

Facts like these have been strangely overlooked in the hasty judgment prompted by prejudice against whatever has obtained credence as miraculous. Some significant considerations must be seriously entertained. It cannot be that no such facts occurred in the long periods covered by the Biblical writers. Occurring, it is extremely improbable that they should have altogether escaped embodiment in popular tradition and its record. Furthermore, while on one hand the custom of speedy burial rendered them much rarer than they are now under other conditions, and so much the more extraordinary, the universal ignorance of the causes involved would have accepted resuscitation as veritable restoration from actual death. As such it would have passed into tradition. In cases where it had come to pass in connection with the efforts of a recognized prophet, or through any contact with him, it would certainly have been regarded as a genuine miracle.

Among the raisings of the "dead" recorded in the Scriptures probably none has been so widely doubted by critical readers as the story in the thirteenth chapter of the second book of Kings, in which a corpse is restored to life by contact with the bones of Elisha. Dean Stanley's remark upon the suspicious similarity between the miracles related of Elisha and those found in Roman Catholic legends of great saints here seems quite pertinent. Let the record speak for itself. "And Elisha died and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet."

The bizarre character of such a story excusably predisposes many a critic to stamp it as fabricated to enhance the glory of the great prophet who had been a pillar of the throne. Yet nothing is more likely than that tradition has here preserved a bit of history, extraordinary, but real. There is not the least improbability in regarding the case as one of the many revivals from the deathlike trance that have been noted by writers ancient and modern. It is entirely reasonable to suppose that the trance in which the seemingly dead man lay was broken either by the shock of his fall into the prophet's tomb, or coincidently therewith; and stranger coincidences have happened. Such a happening would be precisely the sort of thing to live in popular tradition, and to be incorporated into the annals of the time. Here it may be rejoined that this is only a hypothesis. Only that, to be sure. But so is the allegation that the story is a mere fantastic fabrication only a hypothesis. Demonstration of the actual fact past all controversy being out of the question, all that can be offered for the attempt to rate the narrative at its proper value, either as history or as fiction, is hypothesis. The choice lies for us between two hypotheses. Surely, that hypothesis is the more credible which is based on a solid body of objective facts, and meets all the conditions of the case.

Will it be replied to this that the critics can show for their hypothesis the admitted fact of the human proclivity to invent legends of miracle? The decisive answer is that the burden of proof rests on him who contests any statement ostensibly historical. If such a statement be found to square with admitted objective facts, it must be accepted notwithstanding considerations drawn from the subjective tendency to invent extraordinary tales.Were raisings of the "dead" recorded in the Old Testament alone, objection would less often be offered to this transference of them, along with other occurrences once deemed miraculous, to a place in the natural order of things. The statistics of premature burial and of the resuscitation of the apparently dead before burial are sufficiently strong to throw grave doubt on any contention that the resuscitations narrated of Elijah and Elisha do not belong in that historical series. It has been frequently observed, however, that there is much reluctance to apply to the New Testament the methods and canons of criticism that are applied to the Old. It will be so in the present case, through apprehension of somehow detracting from the distinctive glory of Christ. That fear will not disturb one who sees that glory not in his "mighty works," the like of which were wrought by the prophets, but in the spiritual majesty of his personality, the divineness of his message to the world, and of the life and death that illustrated it.

One case, at least, among Jesus' raisings of the "dead," that of the young daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, is admitted even by sceptical critics to have been a resuscitation from the trance that merely simulates death. But the fact that there is a record of his saying in this case, "the child is not dead, but sleepeth," and no record of his saying the same at the bier of the widow's son, is slight ground, yet all the ground there is, against the great probabilities to the contrary, for regarding the latter case as so transcendently different from the former as the actual reëmbodiment of a departed spirit recalled from another world. Were these the only two cases of restoration to life in the ministry of Jesus, it is most probable that they would be regarded as of the same kind. The raising of Lazarus presents peculiar features, in view of which it is generally regarded as of another kind, and the greatest of miracles, so stupendous that the Rev. W. J. Dawson, in his recent Life of Christ, written from an evangelical standpoint, says of it: "Even the most devout mind may be forgiven occasional pangs of incredulity." But the considerations already presented are certainly sufficient to justify a reëxamination of the case. And it is to be borne in mind that the question at issue is, not what the eye-witnesses at that time believed, not what the Church from that time to this has believed, not what we are willing to believe, or would like to believe, but what all the facts with any bearing on the case, taken together, fully justify us in believing as to the real nature of it.

What Jesus is recorded as saying of it is, of course, of prime importance. "Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep." Were this all, the case might easily have been classed as one of trance. The disciples, however, understood Jesus to speak of natural sleep. "Then Jesus therefore said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." Tradition puts the maximum meaning into this word "dead." But if this word here qualifies the preceding word, "fallen asleep," so also is it qualified by that; the two are mutually explanatory, not contradictory. These alternatives are before us: Is the maximum or the minimum meaning to be assigned to the crucial word "dead"? For the minimum, one can say that a deathly trance, already made virtual death by immediate interment, would amply justify Jesus in using the word "dead" in order to impress the disciples with the gravity of the case, as not a natural but a deathly, and, in the existing situation, a fatal sleep. For the maximum, no more can be advanced than the hazardous assertion that Jesus must have used the word with technical precision in its customary sense; an assertion of course protected from disproof by our ignorance of the actual fact. But whatever support this view of the case derives from such ignorance is overbalanced by the support supplied to the other view by the long history of revivals from the deathly trance, and by the probabilities which that history creates.

Many, to whom the view here proposed seems not only new, but unwelcome, and even revolutionary, may reasonably prefer to suspend judgment for reflection; but meanwhile some further considerations may be entertained. Aside from the unwillingness to abandon a long-cherished belief on any subject whatever, which is both a natural, and, when not pushed to an unreasonable length, a desirable brake on all inconsiderate change, no practical interest is threatened by the adoption of the view here suggested. Religious interest, so far as it is also intelligent, is certainly not threatened. The evidences of Jesus' divine character and mission resting, as for modern men it rests, not on remote wonders, but on now acknowledged facts of an ethical and spiritual kind, is altogether independent of our conclusion whether it was from actual or only apparent death that Lazarus was raised. Since all the mighty works wrought by Jesus, and this among them, were identical in type with those wrought by the ancient prophets, with whom his countrymen classed him in his lifetime, their evidential significance could be, even for the eye-witnesses at that tomb, no greater for him than for an Elisha,—signs of a divine mission attesting itself by works of mercy.

As works of mercy these raisings from the "dead," including that of Lazarus, rank far higher in the view of them here proposed than in the traditional view. This regards them as the recall of departed spirits from what is hoped to be "a better world." Yet this, while it turns sorrow for a time into joy, involves not only the recurrence of that sorrow in all its keenness, but also a second tasting of the pains preliminary to the death-gate, when the time comes to pass that gate again. But in the other view, a raising from the death that is only simulated is a merciful deliverance from a calamity greater than simple death, if that be any calamity at all,—the fate of burial alive. In the former view, therefore, the quality of mercy, distinctive of the mighty works of Jesus, is imperfectly demonstrable. In the present view, as the rescue of the living from death in one of its most horrible forms, it is abundantly conspicuous. The onlookers by the tomb of Lazarus doubtless regarded his awakening as revival from actual death. Their opinion, however, does not bind our judgment any more than it is bound by the opinion of other onlookers, that Jesus' healing of the insane and epileptic was through the expulsion of demons that possessed them. In each instance it was understood as a sign of control over beings belonging to another world. But such an attestation of Jesus' divine mission, having been superseded for us by proofs of higher character, is now no more needful for us in the case of the "dead" than in the case of the "demons."

The power of breaking the deathly trance, of quickening the dormant life, reënergizing the collapsed nervous organism, and ending its paralysis of sensation and motion, may be reasonably regarded as power of the same psychical kind that Jesus regularly exerted in healing the sufferers from nervous disorders who were reputed victims of demoniac possession In this view these resuscitations from apparent death appear in natural coherence with the many other works of mercy that Jesus wrought as the Great Physician of his people, and may be regarded as the crown and consummation of all his restorative ministries. Jesus' thanksgiving after the tomb had been opened—"Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me"—shows that he had girded himself for a supreme effort by concentrating the utmost energy of his spirit in prayer. Physically parallel with this was the intensity of voice put into his call to the occupant of the tomb. This is better represented in the original than in our translation: "He shouted with a great voice, 'Lazarus, come forth.'" The whole record indicates the utmost tension of all his energies, and closely comports with the view that this stood to the sequel in the relation of cause to effect. Another circumstance not without bearing on the case is the energizing power of the intense sympathy with the bereaved family that stirred the soul of Jesus to weep and groan with them. And it is not without significance that this strong factor appears active in the larger number of the Biblical cases,—three of them only children, two of these the children of the pitiable class of widows.
Peculiar, then, as was the case of Lazarus, our examination of it reveals no substantial ground for insisting that it was essentially unlike the previous case of the ruler's daughter, that it was the bringing back into a decaying body of a spirit that had entered into the world of departed souls. The actual fact, of course, is indemonstrable. Our conclusion has to be formed wholly upon the probabilities of the case, and must be formed in a reasonable choice between the greater probability and the less.

The restoration of Dorcas to life by Peter, recorded in the book of Acts, needs no special discussion beyond the various considerations already adduced in this chapter. The case of Eutychus, recorded in the same book, requires mention only lest it should seem to have been forgotten, as it is not in point at all. The record makes it highly probable that the supposed death was nothing more than the loss of consciousness for a few hours in consequence of a fall from the window.

If one should here suggest that no mention has yet been made of the resurrection of Jesus himself, it must be pointed out that this is a fact of a totally different kind from any of the foregoing cases. To speak, as many do, of the "resurrection of Lazarus" is a misuse of words. Resuscitation to life in this world, and resurrection, the rising up of the released spirit into the life of the world to come, are as distinct as are the worlds to which they severally belong. We here consider only the raisings which restored to the virtually dead their interrupted mortal life. The rising from the mortal into the immortal state belongs to an entirely different field of study.

Apart, then, from traditional prepossessions, examination of the Biblical narratives discloses nothing to invalidate the hypothesis which one who is acquainted with the copious record of apparent but unreal death must seriously and impartially consider. The reputedly miraculous raisings of the "dead" related in both the Old and the New Testament may, with entire reason, and without detriment to religion, be classed with such as are related outside of the Scriptures, in ancient times as well as modern, and as phenomena wholly within the natural order, however extraordinary. The practical result of such a conclusion is likely to be a gain for the historicity of the Scripture narratives in the estimate of a large class of thoughtful minds.


Gressenhall and lost graves

The idea of poverty was frightening in the 19th Century. In an historical epoch without the benefits of social security  it must have been more repellent to think of being poor and being buried in the workhouse. I understand that people did not have to be buried in the workhouse and there is evidence of people being transported for burial to their parish of origin.

I’m also sure that the Authorities actually encouraged communities and the next of kin to take responsibility for the dead. We can imagine the book keepers in the workhouse keeping a tally of the costs involved in providing a funeral and a gasp of excitement at the thought of saving a few pennies.

The lives of people who did found themselves eventually buried in the workhouse are almost always lost to view and without markers unless they feature in some form of theatrical tableaux or social reconstruction . Yes, there will be the dry as dust paper records that exist in the record offices of the UK although the physical markers of a grave are often absent. Without a marker and weighed down by the shame of poverty it is likely that many graves have never been visited or the people occupying the grave actually mourned. Such is the way of poverty, death and burial in a land that perceives itself as being rich and vibrant and where poverty was a crime.

In reality, the workhouses that were built up and down the the United Kingdom do have cemeteries attached to them although most people have no idea of this relationship. The workhouse cemetery is shrouded in secrecy and uncertainty. The dead reside in that half world based in reality and yet the cemetery is clothed in anxiety and fear.

Gressenhall, [1] [2] in Mid-Norfolk is a wonderful example of a former workhouse that now actively serves the people of Norfolk in a number of ways. Gressenhall is a place where the poor were transported and where they died of old age, disease and general infirmity. The Ordnance Survey maps are available and they record the presence of the cemetery so there is not doubt that it is there. A map published in 1884 shows the cemetery to the west of the site.  The second map, published in 1906,   shows the burial ground as being disused at that point. More importantly, a map published in 1978 shows the cemetery as an orchard (from the 1920's ?) and we see the life cycle of the cemetery moving from burial site to recreational area. The dead, who are without monuments, occupy a  space that eventually becomes a public area and a place for play.

The idea of poverty is so difficult that the dead who actually died in poverty  have less rights to memorials than the living and they disappear from history and collective re-collection. Have a look at the story of burials in Swaffham now under the garden of a somestic property.

Burials in Church

Richard Mason
Necton (Norfolk)
© Godric Godricson
 "The unhealthy practice of using churches for this purpose was continued some way into the nineteenth century. The still more objectionable plan of depositing coffins containing the dead in vaults under churches still lingers on. In 1875 I attended the funeral (so-called) of a public man, whose coffin was borne into the vaults of a town church, and left there, with scores of others piled in heaps in recesses which looked like wine-cellars. Not one of the many mourners who shared in that experience failed to feel horrified at the thought of such a fate. Some of the old coffins were tumbling to pieces, and the odour of the place was beyond description. In the words of Edmund Burke: "I would rather sleep in the southern corner of a country churchyard than in the tomb of the Capulets."

From: In Search Of Gravestones Old And CuriousAuthor: W.T. (William Thomas) Vincent

Sarah Watling - Swanton Abbott

"The body of Sarah Watling, buried in the churchyard of Swanton Abbot, was found to have been stolen from its grave.  At the Norfolk Adjourned Quarter Sessions, held at Norwich on March 6th, 1833, George Ives and Nathaniel Canham were indicted for stealing the body.  The prisoners were acquitted."

Title: Norfolk Annals  A Chronological Record of Remarkable Events in the Nineteeth Century, Vol. 1     Author: Charles Mackie

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sir Edmund Uvedale - Died 1606

Uvedale Monument .

"In this aisle is the monument of Sir Edmund Uvedale, who died in 1606. The monument was erected by his widow in "dolefull duety." It is in the Renaissance style, and was carved by an Italian sculptor. The old knight is represented [52] clad in a complete suit of plate armour, though without a helmet. He lies on his right side, his head is raised a little from his right hand, on which it has been resting, as though he were just awaking from his long sleep, his left hand holds his gauntlet. Above the tomb hangs an iron helmet, such as was worn in Elizabethan times, and which very probably was once worn by Sir Edmund himself".

Thursday, 5 January 2012

HYDRIOTAPHIA (Ch 5) - Sir Thomas Browne (1658)

Sir Thomas Browne
Now since these dead bones have already outlasted the living ones of Methuselah, and in a yard underground, and thin walls of clay, outworn all the strong and specious buildings above it; and quietly rested under the drums and tramplings of three conquests: what prince can promise such diuturnity unto his relicks, or might not gladly say Time, which antiquates antiquities, and hath an art to make dust of all things, hath yet spared these minor monuments.

In vain we hope to be known by open and visible conservatories, when to be unknown was the means of their continuation, and obscurity their protection. If they died by violent hands, and were thrust into their urns, these bones become considerable, and some old philosophers would honour them, whose souls they conceived most pure, which were thus snatched from their bodies, and to retain a stronger propension unto them; whereas they weariedly left a languishing corpse and with faint desires of re-union. If they fell by long and aged decay, yet wrapt up in the bundle of time, they fall into indistinction, and make but one blot with infants. If we begin to die when we live, and long life be but a prolongation of death, our life is a sad composition; we live with death, and die not in a moment. How many pulses made up the life of Methuselah, were work for Archimedes: common counters sum up the life of Moses his man. Our days become considerable, like petty sums, by minute accumulations: where numerous fractions make up but small round numbers; and our days of a span long, make not one little finger. If the nearness of our last necessity brought a nearer conformity into it, there were a happiness in hoary.  According to the ancient arithmetick of the hand, wherein the little finger of the right hand contracted, signified an hundred.hairs, and no calamity in half-senses. But the long habit of living indisposeth us for dying; when avarice makes us the sport of death, when even David grew politickly cruel, and Solomon could hardly be said to be the wisest of men. But many are too early old, and before the date of age. Adversity stretcheth our days, misery makes Alcmena's nights, and time hath no wings unto it. But the most tedious being is that which can unwish itself, content to be nothing, or never to have been, which was beyond the malcontent of Job, who cursed not the day of his life, but his nativity; con- tent to have so far been, as to have a title to future being, although he had lived here but in an hidden state of life, and as it were an abortion.
What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture. What time the persons of these ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead, and slept with princes and coun- sellors, might admit a wide solution. But who were the proprietaries of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made up, were a question above antiquarism; not to be resolved by man, nor easily perhaps by spirits, except we consult the provincial guardians, or tutelary observators. Had they made as good provision for their names, as they have done for their relicks, they had not so grossly erred in the art of perpetuation. But to subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant, is a fallacy in duration. Vain ashes which in the oblivion of names, persons, times, and sexes, have found unto themselves a fruitless continuation, and only arise unto late posterity, as emblems of mortal vanities, antidotes against pride, vain-glory, and madding vices. Pagan vainglories which thought the world might last for ever, had encouragement for ambition; and, finding no unto the immortality of their names, were never dampt with the necessity of oblivion. Even old ambtions had the advantage of ours, in the attempts of their vain-glories, who acting early, and before the probable meridian of time, have by this time found great accomplishment of their designs, whereby the ancient heroes have already outlasted their monuments and mechanical preservations. But in this latter scene of time, we cannot expect such mummies unto our memories, when ambition may fear the prophecy of Elias, and Charles the Fifth can never hope to live within two Methuselahs of Hector.

And therefore, restless inquietude for the diuturnity of our memories unto the present considerations seems a vanity almost out of date, and superannuated piece of folly. We cannot hope to live so long in our names, as some have done in their persons. One face of Janus holds no proportion unto the other. 'Tis too late to be ambitious. The great mutations of the world are acted, or time may be too short for our designs. To extend our memories by monuments, whose death we daily pray for, and whose duration we cannot hope, without injury to our expectations in the advent of the last day, were a contradiction to our beliefs. We whose generations are ordained in this setting part of time, are providentially taken off from such imaginations; and, being necessitated to eye the remaining particle before that famous prince was extant.

Circles and right lines limit and close all bodies, and the mortal right-lined circle* must conclude and shut up all. There is no antidote against the opium of time, which temporally considereth all things: our fathers find their graves in our short memories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors. Grave- stones tell truth scarce forty years. Generations pass while some trees stand, and old families last not three oaks. To be read by bare inscriptions like many in Gruter, to hope for eternity by enigmatical epithets or first letters of our names, to be studied by antiquaries, who we were, and have new names given us like many of the mummies, are cold consolations unto the students of perpetuity, even by everlasting languages.

To be content that times to come should only know there was such a man, not caring whether they knew more of him, was a frigid ambition in Cardan; disparaging his horoscopal inclination and judgment of himself. Who cares to subsist like Hippocrates's patients, or Achilles's horses in Homer, under naked nominations, without deserts and noble acts, which are the balsam of our memories, the  and soul of our subsistences? To be nameless in worthy deeds, exceeds an infamous history. The Canaanitish woman lives more happily without a name, than Herodias with one. And who had not rather have been the good thief, than Pilate?
But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founder of the pyramids? Herostratus lives that burnt the temple of Diana, he is almost lost that built it. Time hath spared the epitaph of Adrian's horse, confounded that of himself. In vain we compute our felicities by the advantage of our good names, since bad have equal durations, and Thersites is like to live as long as Agamemnon without the favour of the everlasting register. Who knows whether the best of men be known, or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot, than any that stand remembered in the known account of time? The first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methuselah's long life had been his only chronicle.

Oblivion is not to be hired. The greater part must be content to be as though they had not been, to be found in the register of God, not in the record of man. Twenty-seven names make up the first story and the recorded names ever since contain not one living century. The number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the equinox? Every hour adds unto that current arithmetick, which scarce stands one moment. And since death must be the opposite of life, and even Pagans could doubt, whether thus to live were to die; since our longest sun sets at right descensions, and makes but winter arches, and therefore it cannot be long before we lie down in darkness, and have our light in ashes; since the brother of death daily haunts us with dying memen- toes, and time that grows old in itself, bids us hope no long duration;—diuturnity is a dream and folly of expectation.

Darkness and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and the smartest strokes of affliction leave but short smart upon us. Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves. To weep into stones are fables. Afflictions induce callosities; miseries are slip- pery, or fall like snow upon us, which notwithstanding is no unhappy stupidity. To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetful of evils past, is a merciful provision in nature, whereby we digest the mixture of our few and evil days, and, our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrances, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions. A great part of antiquity contented their hopes of subsistency with a transmigration of their souls,—a good way to continue their me-mories, while having the advantage of plural successions, they could not but act something remarkable in such variety of beings, and enjoying the fame of their passed selves, make accumulation of glory unto their last dura- tions. Others, rather than be lost in the uncomfortable night of nothing, were content to recede into the common being, and make one particle of the public soul of all things, which was no more than to return into their un- known and divine original again. Egyptian ingenuity was more unsatisfied, contriving their bodies in sweet consistences, to attend the return of their souls. But all is vanity, feeding the wind, and folly. Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth. Mummy is become mer- chandise, Mizraim, cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams.

In vain do individuals hope for immortality, or any patent from oblivion, in preservations below the moon; men have been deceived even in their flatteries, above the sun, and studied conceits to perpetuate their names in heaven. The various cosmography of that part hath already varied the names of contrived constellations; Nimrod is lost in Orion, and Osyris in the Dog-star. While we look for incorruption in the heavens, we find that they are but like the earth;—durable in their main bodies, alterable in their parts; whereof, beside comets and new stars, perspectives begin to tell tales, and the spots that wander about the sun, with Phaeton's favour, would make clear conviction.

There is nothing strictly immortal, but immortality. Whatever hath no beginning, may be confident of no end;—all others have a dependent being and within the reach of destruction;—which is the peculiar of that necessary essence that cannot destroy itself;—and the highest strain of omnipotency, to be so powerfully constituted as not to suffer even from the power of itself. But the sufficiency of Christian immortality frustrates all earthly glory, and the quality of either state after death, makes a folly of posthumous memory. God who can only destroy our souls, and hath assured our resurrection, either of our bodies or names hath directly promised no duration. Wherein there is so much of chance, that the boldest expectants have found unhappy frustration; and to hold long subsistence, seems but a scape in oblivion. But man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery in the infamy of his nature.

Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us. A small fire sufficeth for life, great flames seemed too little after death, while men vainly affected precious pyres, and to burn like Sardanapalus; but the wisdom of funeral laws found the folly of prodigal blazes and reduced undoing fires unto the rule of sober obsequies, wherein few could be so mean as not to provide wood, pitch, a mourner, and an urn.
Five languages secured not the epitaph of Gordianus. The man of God lives longer without a tomb than any by one, invisibly interred by angels, and adjudged to obscurity, though not without some marks directing human discovery. Enoch and Elias, without either tomb or burial, in an anomalous state of being, are the great examples of perpetuity, in their long and living memory, in strict account being still on this side death, and having a late part yet to act upon this stage of earth. If in the decretory term of the world we shall not all die but be changed, according to received translation, the last day will make but few graves; at least quick resurrections will anticipate lasting sepultures. Some graves will be opened before they be quite closed, and Lazarus be no wonder. When many that feared to die, shall groan that they can die but once, the dismal state is the second and living death, when life puts despair on the damned; when men shall wish the coverings of mountains, not of monuments, and annihilations shall be courted.

While some have studied monuments, others have studiously declined them, and some have been so vainly boisterous, that they durst not acknowledge their graves; wherein Alaricus seems most subtle, who had a river turned to hide his bones at the bottom. Even Sylla, that thought himself safe in his urn, could not prevent revenging tongues, and stones thrown at his monument. Happy are they whom privacy makes innocent, who deal so with men in this world, that they are not afraid to meet them in the next; who, when they die, make no commotion among the dead, and are not touched with that poetical taunt of Isaiah.
Pyramids, arches, obelisks, were but the irregularities of vain-glory, and wild enormities of ancient magnanimity. But the most magnanimous resolution rests in the Christian religion, which trampleth upon pride and sits on the neck of ambition, humbly pursuing that infallible perpetuity, unto which all others must diminish their diameters, and be poorly seen in angles of contingency.

Pious spirits who passed their days in raptures of futurity, made little more of this world, than the world that was before it, while they lay obscure in the chaos of pre-ordination, and night of their forebeings. And if any have been so happy as truly to understand Christian annihilation, ecstasies, exolution, liquefaction, transformation, the kiss of the spouse, gustation of God, and ingression into the divine shadow, they have already had an handsome anticipation of heaven; the glory of the world is surely over, and the earth in ashes unto them.

To subsist in lasting monuments, to live in their productions, to exist in their names and predicament of chimeras, was large satisfaction unto old expectations, and made one part of their Elysiums. But all this is nothing in the metaphysicks of true belief. To live indeed, is to be again ourselves, which being not only an hope, but an evidence in noble believers, 'tis all one to lie in St Innocent's church-yard as in the sands of Adrianus.

Grave collection - Necton

© Godric Godricson

18th and 19th Century graves. Necton Parish Church

William Salter - Haddiscoe

Here lies Will Salter, honest man,
Deny it, Envy, if you can;
True to his business and his trust,
Always punctual, always just;
His horses, could they speak, would tell
They loved their good old master well.
His up-hill work is chiefly done,
His stage is ended, race is run;
One journey is remaining still,
To climb up Sion’s holy hill.
And now his faults are all forgiven,
Elijah-like, drives up to heaven,
Takes the reward of all his pains,
And leaves to other hands the reins.

Wall monument, C18. Limestone with black incised lettering. Memorial toWilliam Salter, the driver of the Yarmouth stage coach, died 1776.

The Parable of the Net

or..............The changing tariffs for sin
 "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In the Christian tradition, hell is not seen as being beyond Jesus’ reach although Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, argued (2nd December 2009)  that gay men will never go to heaven and are an insult to God. This statement was subsequently toned down by the well practised Vatican press office and "Insiders" but there we have the idea in a nutshell.  The Cardinal seems to have stolen the responsibility for selecting souls from the angels themselves and he has willingly taken on that role. In doing so, the Cardinal  predictably incurred the wrath of the gay community around the world without actually surprising anyone. The Cardinal attracted even more ridicule for his own branch of Christianity in the media as if that denomination wasn't in enough trouble in the public imagination.

Is sin eternal or does the
tariff of sin change?
© Godric Godricson
 Gay men and possibly Lesbians didn’t have to wait for the Cardinal to make his pronouncement. Gay men have been quite sure (from the teachings of the Church)  that they will join in Dante’s 7th circle of Hell. Gay men has usually been seen by the Church as being damned without recourse to a complaints procedure. The implicit teaching of the Church has been that Jesus would not want to save gay men as opposed to the idea that Jesus could not save gay men. 

We may speculate on salvation in an erudite manner although in reality gay men are seen negatively in the New Testament and as such their souls have been perceived as ‘persona non grata’ in heaven. This does  have repercussions on the cemetery as a place of re-integration, where the living and the dead come together and where the departed start their journey to the other side

I think that the 21st century has been a real problem for the Churches in the United Kingdom and  for the Mexican Cardinal. Monogamous, long-term gay couples are increasingly part of legal civil relationships from 2005 and recognised by the state even if loving gay and lesbian partnerships are actively despised by competing denominations who often contradict each other. The usual anti-gay clamour seems to have subsided a little around Europe but what to do about the souls of gay men and the  unity of the cemetery? Are gay men’s souls really so intrinsically disordered and corrupt that they cannot be saved or  can the souls of gay men ever be seen as  “Righteous”. We have seen what the traditional Church has said but should gay men  continue to be judged by such terms as “Sodomy”, “Carnality” and “lust”? Is it the case that  gay men should be kept out of the cemetery and the salvific ministry of Jesus and be separated into a sort of ‘apartheid’ cemetery for the perpetually fallen? Could we say "Equal but separate", in terms of burial?

The cemetery as a place
of community
© Godric Godricson
 Matthew delegated the job of selecting the souls of the “Wicked” or “Righteous to the angels and it seems that they will decide our fate but we may ask what are the criteria for selection into the Kingdom of God and has the criteria changed recently? Certainly, 100 years ago being gay in the United Kingdom would have incurred severe legal penalties on Earth and would have consigned the accused to prison and hard labour or even death. I’m sure that the burial plot next door may have been cheaper if the sins of the interred person were known What about now? Does a change in the 21st century civil and criminal law and an increasing acceptance of gay men mean that souls already consigned  to hell will now be raised up and re-assigned a place in heaven by the angels? Could Oscar Wilde be judged “louch” but “Righteous” or will he remain a “sodomite” and remain in hell? With secular legality why do we still encounter homosexuality as a sin within the Church?  What to think in changing times and what to think about a place in the cemetery? How does sin play out in heaven when so many members of the Church hierarchy are gay even if they work so hard to 'hush-up' that guilty little secret?

We are used to seeing on monuments “Dear Father”, “Wonderful wife” but these  may soon augmented by “Dutiful Civil partner”? What will it mean for cemeteries when marriage between same sex couples is legalised in the UK by 2015? The imagery and contours of the cemetery will be challenged and changed and so will the sensibilities of visitors to the cemetery. What was once taboo will be out and proud so to speak. Now, this development may be more for the civil cemetery rather than being seen in the parish but I will turn my eyes to the courts from 2015 onwards to see which cemetery is the first to be hit by a claim against them based on discrimination.

Saint Botolph Banningham
© Godric Godricson
 This idea of comparative judgements of “Sin”, “Wickedness” or “Righteousness” fluctuating over time may seem frivolous but it has significance for real people as they try to understand the actions of the Church, their own options for the afterlife and  ideas about their last resting place and monuments. Do we happily trust the angels to judge our lives and if they do judge are they judging for just now or for all time? Do we listen to the Mexican Cardinal as he permanently refuses admittance to a percentage of God’s creation? Increasingly, we may ask "just how permanent is damnation and what does that mean?". How serious is it to be condemned to hell by a Cardinal anyway?  If we all go to heaven do some people have a better circle in heaven just as Dante would have circles in hell. Are some seats closer to God and how are they allocated?  The Churches still retain great powers of leadership and the state tries to harness that power for its own particular ends.

In the UK, David Cameron appears somewhat confused and, on one hand, would like people to take upon themselves distinctly Christian values whilst he also espouses socially progressive tendencies such as gay marriage. The Cardinal, in 2009,  and his denomination choose to speak in a traditional manner about gay men and the state of their souls although this does have some distinct repercussions for those currently living and their choices in the future? What is “judgement” and what is “eternity” and how do we record that event on the tombstone? Perhaps. rather than inscribing into granite, we should merely have a chalk board and change the details every few years or so!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

James Whitby d. 6th September 1825

James Whitby
d. 6th September 1825
© Godric Godricson

Married 21 Sep 1801 (or even 1808 in the IGI) to Susanna Wright. Probably born around 1780 although this is conjectural.

"On an Invalid - Written by Himself"

Here lies a head that often ached;
Here lie two hands that always shak’d;
Here lies a brain of odd conceit;
Here lies a heart that often beat;
Here lie two eyes that dimly wept,
And in the night but seldom slept;
Here lies a tongue that whining talk’d;—
Here lie two feet that feebly walked;
Here lie the midriff and the breast,
With loads of indigestion prest;
Here lives the liver full of bile,
That ne’er secreted proper chyle;
Here lie the bowels, human tripes,
Tortured with wind and twisting gripes;
Here lies the livid dab, the spleen,
The source of life’s sad tragic scene,
That left side weight that clogs the blood,
And stagnates Nature’s circling flood;
Here lies the back, oft racked with pains,
Corroding kidneys, loins, and reins;
Here lies the skin by scurvy fed,
With pimples and irruptions red;
Here lies the man from top to toe,
That fabric fram’d for pain and woe.

Title: Gleanings in Graveyards a collection of Curious Epitaphs Author: Horatio Edward Norfolk

George Daines 1840 - 1929

George Daines
1840 - 1929
© Godric Godricson

The life of George Daines is well reflected in the public record and we can see that George lived a life in Holme Hale and was very much part of his community situated in mid Norfolk. The son of George and Elizabeth is called 'Saines' in the Census of 1851 and we have to deduce who the name 'Saines' should represent.

The web site of Norfolk Pubs has George Daines as the landlord of the Railway Inn from 1885 to 1912. This information is reflected in the 1911 Census and seems to build on a lifetime of progress and advancement.

The 1901 Census does not show any family at the same address in Holme Hale although George continues to live with his wife Maria. It is not until the 1891 Census that we find George and Maria or Mary living with a daughter Agnes at The Railway Tavern. Agnes is seen to be a dressmaker born in the village whilst Mary was born in nearby Ashill.

The 1881 Census has a surprise in store and we see George Daines employed as a farm bailiff of 125 Acres and employing 3 labourers. This seems unlikely considering later employment although in a highly rural environment it is entirely likely for a man to have a number of occupations and for some of that endeavour to be spent in rural occupations. The 1871 Census sees George as an agricultural labourer  living on Lower Road in the village with Mary and daughters Harriet and Agnes.

Harriet Daines married Walter Ward in1853 in Swaffham and gave birth to Ada  (1882),Walter (1883), Agnes  (1885), Ernest (1890), Hilda (1893), Mary (1897), Stanley (1898) and Phyllis (1900). In effect, the descendants of George Daines  now populate most of central Norfolk. Perhaps this is one of the great successes of anyone reflected in genealogy. I'm sure that the descendants of George lie in the cemetery of Swaffham.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Elizabeth Kiddell 1812 - October 27th 1856

Elizabeth Kiddell
© Godric Godricson

In the 1851 Census, Elizabeth is a washerwoman and lives with her father William who is the parish clerk in Holme Hale. Elizabeth does not appear to be married or living with children

"I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill"

Spirituality in the 21st Century context is less about ‘spirituality’ or being ‘spirit filled’  and is increasingly more about ‘feeling good’ in an instantaneous sort of way. Spirituality is currently about turning a fractured world into ‘fluffy’ world often inspired by Disney cartoons and “Hallmark Moments”.

The East End
Necton Parish Church
© Godric Godricson
 Contemporary spirituality is often without a real understanding of life and even death. I am not in any way advocating a return to medieval pessimism or the ‘momenti mori’; instead, I am suggesting a Western spirituality that is socially progressive, hopeful for the future and realistically focused on our own mortality. Traditional certainties have to be available to people as a rock on which to build their lives. Most of all,  I believe that hope must be given back to a fractured and confused Western world that is battered by financial insecurity.

In my assessment of the problem, I see many  confused people who believe that spirituality is quickly attainable; available on a shelf and that it is something that has little personal cost. This is what may be seen as the ‘self-help’ sort of spirituality that one finds in Ottaker’s (other bookshops are also available). The ‘quick fix’ spiritual journey on offer may be Buddhist or ‘new-age’ in nature or from other traditions and may adopt values that are very far from traditional. However, in such contexts ‘spirituality’ rarely has reference to a Christian conception of God. I want to say at this point that I have no hang-ups about other world religions or denominations and I believe that they all have their way of leading people from the darkness and into the light.

18th and 19th Century monuments Necton
Parish Church
© Godric Godricson
 To be explicit, I am not making an exclusive case for positive spiritual experiences within the context of Christianity in isolation. I freely acknowledge that there is always a place to explore experience and wisdom from other traditions. I also know of people who are not at all consciously religious who exude a sense of spiritual serenity and  they manifest a certainty about the future which is comforting and also calming but this is to confuse matters further. I have a colleague in secular employment who denies any faith in religion who has the effect of immediately dropping my blood pressure when she speaks.  I suspect that she  is a natural healer if she only understood that role within herself. However, healing, feeling good and self-help are not the same as spirituality.

In some ways; people now ignore Western spirituality and a recognition of mortality and immediately look to the Far East for a spiritual dimension in their lives. We find images in John Lewis indicating where feelings, hopes and expectations focus in the matter of spirituality. Perhaps 100 years ago people in England may have ‘crossed the Tiber’ when they considered spirituality and their own mortality or even made the journey towards Orthodoxy when they considered a spiritual direction. The direction  is clearly much further East. If Western people visited local cemeteries a little more then we would have a more focused and centered sense of ourselves and our mortality. In a collective recognition of a finite lifespan we may come to a sort of serenity rather than internal panic when faced by a fractured world.

Saint Withburga East Dereham
© Godric Godricson
 Yet, traditional Christian spirituality and a recognition of mortality is alive if not completely well.  Whilst not encapsulating the whole Christian message we can see that Catholic spirituality as one facet of Christianity is set within a strong context replete with history, prayer, hymns, meditations, art and sculpture. Similarly, the Church of England has a tradition that often utilises ‘smells and bells’, as part of a rich, diverse and musical  liturgy. We also have a British Orthodox Church linked to the Copts of Alexandria. All of this rich and diverse heritage is already in the UK and evidences a truly and home grown traditional spirituality.

However, for many people the Church has no contemporary relevance and I perceive the major denominations as failing in leadership and a failure to take socially progressive measures in good time. The ancient role of the Church has been eroded by time and  denominations have failed to make themselves relevant in the 21st Century. Denominations have many of the traditional tools to educate, entertain and inspire hope in society and yet they haven’t used those tools. The Churches remain locked and the cemeteries are no longer places of burial, spiritual refection and meditation.

East Lexham Parish Church
© Godric Godricson
 I continue to reflect on the Churches collective failure to inspire, educate and give hope to the whole people. They have jointly failed to use the traditional resources open to them to create hope in the future and in this omission they have opened up routes towards communal doubt and fear. This doubt and fear in the future is evident in the tendency of the British people to give themselves up to cremation and to a cosmopolitan spiritual supermarket. Where we once gave our mortal remains to the Church to lie in the Earth in the hope of eternity; we now give our bodies to the remorseless crematorium and in this process we collectively pollute the air.

Perhaps it is the idea of hope that has suffered most in the past two or three years as a result of the economic crisis and perhaps hope is something that has to be re-introduced into the spiritual life of England in the coming months. Perhaps a realistic, traditional sense of hope in the future tempered by the reality of mortality is the starting point for a resurgence of a happy and cohesive people.