A life in stone

Photo: Rob Coles

Seems l am not the only one who likes wandering around in churchyards reading epitaphs.

Rob Coles has sent me the snowy picture of St James churchyard, on Bath’s Lower Bristol Road, with the following message:

“I share your love of such places – especially reading the inscriptions on memorials. Bath Abbey Cemetery is a great source for the great and good.   

In East Twerton there is the grave of the driver killed in the 1929 S&D railway accident and in Monkton Combe there  is a grave of a family who were drowned in the River Wye – and of course Harry Patch the last WWI veteran. 

In Radstock there is the grave of a local footballer who died after being kicked during a Boxing Day match in the 1920’s, It has a marble  football and the inscription “He always played the game”.  A few miles away in Paulton, if I remember correctly, a grave for a young man has the inscription “killed by accident”. 

Visiting friends “up north” I found there was a tradition of placing a vase or similar on the grave  from workmates with an inscription, for example, “from the lads on the night shift”

Sometimes I am surprised, that we found ourselves walking over a tablet memorial to Dusty Springfield in Henley on Thames,  who I thought of as being in the era after us. 

The saddest was in Cardiff where, in the park, we walked over memorial stones set in the grass, each with an inscription to a Welsh Guardsman killed in the Falklands, the very chaps I had seen departing from Southampton on the QE2.  Another sadness was seeing a monumental mason in Green Park Mews carving the name of another victim of the Falklands War.

Many generations ago, my family farmed in a hamlet in Radnorshire. We visited the churchyard,  hoping to find information from inscriptions. No chance with a family name of Williams – the memorials were all to Williams.  More luck with another ancestor, we found on the Internet, the grave of William Prout in Washington DC Congressional cemetery  complete with  photo.

For Bath and district there is – on the internet – the Bath Record Office  Burial Index, wonderfully useful.”

Thanks Rob and a Merry Christmas to you.