Category Archives: Not London

Old Father Time in Rochester Cathedral

Old Father TimeOne of my favourite memorials anywhere: it's just stunning. It commemorates Lady Ann Henniker who died in 1792, and is made from Coade stone, a kind of ceramic which allowed the creation of large, detailed cast sculptures.

More importantly (for me right now), it's on my old hard drive, which also has all my old cemetery photographs on it, and has been restored to working order. All the old cem pictures are going back on this blog, so you'll see the post count increase dramatically over the next couple of days. I'm filing them under "2002" (the actual dates are between 2002 and 2005 but I don't know what they are... just the order in which I visited cemeteries), so they'll show up in the archives but not on the front page. The list of cemeteries has the full count.

I'm happy to say, I think I've become a much better photographer over the last few years. Starting from such a low base, I'm not convinced that's saying much...

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I don’t even like Coldplay

but the video for "Cemeteries of London" (which I'd never seen before today) is magnificent. Turn your speakers off and watch this:

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A trip to St. Albans

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To St. Albans with B., mostly to sample the excellent produce of the West Cornwall Pasty Company. Warning: website is made from annoying Flash and has sound. Pasties are nonetheless excellent.

I had a brief "didn't know he was dead" moment by Lord Runcie's grave, and a rather longer "there's nothing bloody here" moment in Verulamium Park. Further warning: Roman mosaic closes at 4.30 and museum's last entry is 5pm: if you get there too late, there's not much else to see. Even the series of small walls is sparse.

First in a random series of saints: St. Alban
Alban was the first British Christian martyr, one of three from Roman Britain. According to Bede, he was executed after sheltering a priest: when Roman soldiers came to look for the priest, Alban swapped cloaks with him and was beheaded in his stead. Bede tells how the executioner was so impressed with Alban's faith that he converted on the spot and refused to kill him. A second executioner had his eyes fall out as he completed the task.

A punctuation nazi observes
St. Albans has no apostrophe, though it should have. Ditto for Bury St. Edmunds.

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Pilgrimage, part 1

There's an argument that goes on amongst cemetery photographers, that will never be resolved: should you photograph the graves of the recently deceased? When is it too soon, when are you being too purient... or do photos, in fact, help? The Victorians took post-mortem photos, but I've seen a niece physically attack her uncle at a funeral for taking a picture of the coffin being lowered into the grave. There's no answer, not that works for everyone, not even a cultural norm in many cases. I don't want to make a definitive statement.

In the decade that I've been putting photos of cemeteries online, I've had precisely two emails from (someone who said they were) a relative, objecting to the pictures. I've had dozens, thanking me for letting people see their loved one's last resting place. I can only run this with the data I have, and think that I'm doing more than being interested in something: some of you are also interested in these places, for some very personal reasons.

But I'm bad at family myself. The only person I'll ever really love is my grandfather, who died when I was 7 (more than 30 years ago and I still cry for him every single day. Is it time I got over it? Sure. Do I want to? No way.). He's buried at the other end of the country and getting to see his grave is difficult. And so I looked for it online. Here's the photo that I found:

http://www.paulfrecker.com/collections.cfm?pagetype=library&typeID=1

That upright black slab in the middle of the photo is my grandfather's (and grandmother's) grave. The one to the right in the picture is my great-uncle, great-aunt and second cousin. And I think the arched one directly above them in the picture is my great-grandparents'.

That's not why I'm doing this; I was interested in cemeteries while Grandad was still picking me up from primary school and walking me home, through the cemetery. But that picture makes me want to go and see him. Just a note, to those of you who wonder if I should be doing this at all: yes, I think I should.

Photo by Stephen Betteridge, to whom I cannot express my gratitude enough.

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