Friday, 19 December 2014

Sad Momento

During a recent visit to a small Lancashire churchyard, I came across this sad momento of a small dog cuddling a slipper on the grave of someone remembered fondly as a loving Grandad. Spot the snail!

Wartime Tragedy

TA few miles from where I live is a memorial of a tragic wartime accident that cost the lives of two teachers, 38 schoolchildren and seven other civilians when an American B-24 Liberator bomber crashed in the Lancashire coastal village of Freckleton.

The aircraft was one of two taking part in a test flight from the then RAF airbase at Warton. A ferocious thunderstorm started and the two aircraft were recalled. One pilot decided to the fly away from the storm, while the other - Lieutenant John Bloemendal attempted to land. A witness saw lighting strike the aircraft and it ended up partially destroying some house and a local cafe. Part of the bomber collided with a classroom packed with infants, its fuel tanks catching alight. All three members of the plane's crew also died.

At the rear of the churchyard of Holy Trinity, the memorial is a poignant sight and it is very moving to read the names of all the children who died.





Molesworth Pet Cemetery

It has been quite a while since I posted a photograph of the headstones in the Molesworth Pet Cemetery in Huntingdon. I found another this afternoon and was struck by the statue of a small dog at the top of a column. Then I looked at the angel with raised arm on the left of a nearer grave. On the opposite side of the cross, I can just make out another small dog statue, but cannot make out its name. I have had another look and almost thought I can see two dog heads - siamese twins? There is, however, only one pair of front paws dangling over the front of the name plaque. What do you make of it?

Animals interred in Hallowed Ground

This is not the sort of image you expect to find in a secluded country churchyard. I photographed it yesterday after finding a mention of it in a book on animal graves and memorials.


 There once was a poodle. Its name was Azor and it was said to have been presented by Frederick, King of Prussia to Sir Thomas Swymmer Champneys in 1790. After the dog died in 1796, a statue and plaque was raised above its grave at Wood Lodge, Orchardleigh.Thomas died in 1839 and his home - Orchardleigh House passed out of the family.

Almost forty years later, the Champney chapel in the St Mary's church was being restored when the remains of his dog were found buried inside the church.  A check of the poodle's grave at Wood Lodge found it empty.

In the late 1890s, the English poet Sir Henry Newbolt who was courting the daughter of the landowner, heard of the story and wrote Fiedele's Grassy Tomb. In it, he recounted how the dog had been buried at its master's feet. The local Bishop was incensed and demanded that the dog must be removed. According to author Jan Toms:


 " The sexton was of the opinion that the dog had behaved in a more than Christian fashion by saving his master from drowning and a deception was carried out. Fidele (or Azor) remained with his master while a false grave was erected outside. Thus, the legend of Azor was preserved in Newbolt's poem. Later, the statue believed to cover Azor's original resting place was moved into the churchyard of St Mary's being there for all to see." 
The  statue is remarkable, bearing the representation of a number of animal skulls on an urn. No inscription is visible, but the weathering of the stone just adds to the presence of the memorial. If you are ever in the vicinity, please take the time to visit the remarkable moated church with its small but historical churchyard.

Jan Toms' book  is Animal Graves and Memorials (Shire Books 2006)





A Dog Cemetery in Jersey

This card is a recent acquisition. The original purchaser has written August 1955 on the reverse.

The memorial records the following:

The Haven of Rest
The Abode of Love
Opened 1928

Here rest the relics of our friends below
Blessed with more sense that half the folks we know
Fond of their ease, and to no parties prone.
They damn'd no sect but calmly gnawed their bone
Performed their functions well in every act


Blush Christians if you can and copy them

The More Mummy

LA MOMIA MAS PEQUENA DEL MONDO
 The More Little Mummy on the World

This macabre postcard was sent from Guanajuato, Mexico by a guy named Steve in August 1980 to the Samson Family in Hawaii. He bemoaned the fact he couldn't find his friend from Florida. He told the Samson's to check out the translation in English. I can't read Spanish, but guess it refers to the 'smallest' mummy in the world. Am I right?


Who killed Cock-Robin?


I felt very, very sad when I discovered a dead robin in the undergrowth. There was, however, a certain beauty in its stillness and I was moved to take a post mortem photograph. Later, I remembered the old English folk song:

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?

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