Friday, 2 March 2012

Edwin Chadwick - Interview

© Godric Godricson
"The effects of unguarded interments have, however, as will subsequently be noticed, been observed with greater care on the continent, and the proximity of wells to burial-grounds has been reported to be injurious. Thus it is stated in a collection of reports concerning the cemeteries of the town of Versailles, that the water of the wells which lie below the church-yard of St. Louis could not be used on account of its stench.

In consequence of various investigations in France, a law was passed, prohibiting the opening of wells within 100 metres of any place of burial ; but this distance is now stated to be insufficient for deep wells, which have been found on examination to be polluted at a distance of from 150 to 200 metres. In some parts of Germany, the opening of wells nearer than 300 feet has been prohibited.”


Thursday, 1 March 2012


Caister Saint Edmund
© Godric Godricson
  Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

William the Conqueror (1028-1087)

The evidence for William the Conqueror's death are contained in the nearly contemporary De Obitu Willelmi by an anonymous monk of Caen, where the king was actually buried, and the later Historia Ecclesiastica of Orderi Vitalis written approximately sixty-five years later.

William  "who was very corpulent, fell ill from exhaustion and heat" and died of a burst bowel at age 59. While jumping a trench on horseback, his stomach was forced onto the pommel of his sword.

There is little dignity in death, even for Kings and in the funeral service we hear that "the swollen bowels burst, and an intolerable stench assailed the nostrils of the by-standers and the whole crowd."

For William, even the frankincense and spices of the censers was not enough to mask the smell, and the rites were hurriedly concluded in an effort to move away.

Lost burial grounds - Hunstanton

The Lighthouse
© Godric Godricson
Hunstanton is one of those Norfolk towns that defies close description. "It is, what it is" and that’s an end to it.

I like Hunstanton and that means the residential ‘older’ Hunstanton and the more ‘seaside resort’ of New Hunstanton. In summer, people walk around the town in flip flops and summer hats and the place has a ‘kiss me kwik’ atmosphere. Having talked about the seaside atmosphere, the fish and chips aren’t that great for a seaside resort. British people (and many Commonwealth cousins around the world) understand that fish and chips are a vital part of a visit to the seaside and the social standing of a town can rise and fall depending on the perceived quality of the food.

I have an aversion to one or two fish and chip establishments in Hunstanton. They have a mightily high opinion of their products to the point where they don’t give much attention to service. There we have it and back to the purpose of this posting!

Heavily conserved wall
Saint Edmund's Church
© Godric Godricson
 The town has its own history and (like of lot of Norfolk) the history is extensive although not always easily accessible to the public on the internet. One wonders what the parish/town and district Council are  doing to publicise the services that the town has to offer as they take the locally raised Council Tax. The ancient Church of Saint Edmund [1] [2] stands on the ciff top and must be the centre of an ancient Saxon Cemetery although the present building is probably Norman in origin. The main body of the Church exisits as a low wall in addition to the small replacement altar at the East End. This is a marvellous survival and we can only wonder what is looked like from the sea as it stood on the cliff.

Edwin Chadwick - Interviews (1843)

Detail: Ashill
Parish Church
The following testimony of a lady, respecting the miasma which escaped from one burial-ground at Manchester, is adduced as an example of the more specific testimony as to the perception of its effects. This testimony also brings to view the circumstance that in the towns it is not only in surface emanations from the grave-yards alone that the morbific matter escapes.

You resided formerly in the house immediately contiguous to the burying-ground of chapel, did you not ?

Yes I did, but I was obliged to leave it.

Why were. you so obliged?

When the wind was west, the smell was dreadful. There is a main sewer runs through the burying-ground, and the smell of the dead bodies came through this sewer up our drain, and until we got that trapped, it was quite unbearable.

Do you not think the smell arose from the emanations of the sewer, and not from the burying-ground?

I am sure they came from the burying ground; the smell coming from the drain was exactly the same as that which reached us when the wind was west, and blew upon us from the burying-ground. The smell was very peculiar ; it exactly resembled the smell which clothes have when they are removed from a dead body. My servants would not remain in the house on account of it, and I had several cooks who removed on this account.

Did you observe any effects on your health when the smells were bad ?

Yes, I am liable to head-aches, and these were always bad when the smells were so also. They were often accompanied by diarrhrea in this house. Before I went there, and since I left, my head-aches have been very trifling.

Were any of the other inmates of the house afflicted with illness ?

I had often to send for the surgeon to my servants, who were liable to ulcerated sore throats.

And your children, were they also affected ?

My youngest child was very delicate, and we thought he could not have survived; since he came here he has become quite strong and healthy, but I have no right to say the burying-ground had any connexion with his health.