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.