THE VALE OF BELVOIR ANGELS.
Looking at the 'Vale Of Belvoir Angel' gravestones, carved in slate, to be found in (roughly) the Vale Of Belvoir.
The Vale of Belvoir covers adjacent parts of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. The word'Belvoir' itself is French/Norman for 'Beautiful View'.
A description of the Vale of Belvoir found on the internet said that if you would walk from Bingham to Long Clawson then on to Melton Mowbray and Grantham, then on to Bottesford before heading back to Bingham then that would encompass the area of the Vale.
Most, but not all of the gravestones listed here come from within this area.
It was a bitterly cold December morning in 2012 and I was wandering around the grounds at the church of St John The Baptist, at Muston. Crunching through the frost at the north side of the church, something caught my eye.
It was a slate grave, to one John Chamberin, who passed away in 1698 at the age of 86. Across the top of the grave was a depiction of an angel, curly haired and wearing a ruff; finely detailed wings outstretched across the full width of the grave. Images of mortality, an hourglass and crossed bones were alongside the angel. Weathered wording across the top read ‘Grieve not for me my glass is run. It is the Lord his will be done’.
This was my first grave of this kind. It turned out that they were like buses; you go ages without seeing one then two pop up together. A second turned up at Bottesford half an hour later and there was a scattering of them locally throughout the rest of the trip.
When I got home after that trip I did a little internet research and found out that these stones have a following; and that a study of them was conducted by a couple in the 1970’s, Pauline and Bernard Heathcote, who published their results in a hard to track down book.
Their comprehensive study found 328 of these stones still standing, with this figure being increased a little in recent times with a few more coming to light. The Heathcote’s describes these as ‘Vale Of Belvoir Angels’ so I will do the same.
This website will take a look at these gravestones; providing a record of things that I hold a great affection for; each one a little work of art, interesting historically and socially.
This is not meant to include a comprehensive listing of all of these graves. A full list, with a few subsequent additions, was produced by the Heathcote's and I don't intend to copy their work. This is a snapshot of my travels using the Heathcote's listing as my guide.
I have set this site up so that the pages are 'stand alone'; they are not designed to be read through from first to last (but if you do that is great).
It is designed for people to dip in to; to read about a particular church that they may have an interest in.
The same observations will pop up from time to time on different pages so apologies in advance for repeating myself for anyone reading through the whole thing.
From my time out with the camera I know that there is an interest in these type of gravestones; people have seen them about and wish to know a little more about them.
I hope you enjoy what I have put together.