CHURCH OF ST JAMES
Church Post Code LE14 3HT
The Heathcote study listed ten Vale of Belvoir Angels at this church; there is in fact eleven, with one not listed to be found inside the church, from memory leaning against the north wall of the chancel. The 'angels' here make for an interesting but very sad story!
I will start off with the gravestone which stands inside the church itself. This one is to Annie Ellet. There is some damage to the foot of this gravestone, which affected the stability of it without damaging any of the text. Invariably, this will have toppled at some point and it is good to see that someone recognised this as something of importance and took it inside for protection.
'Come Ye Blessed' reads across the top; the angel itself beautifully carved. The stone reads 'Here lies ye body of Annie Ellet the wife of Thomas Ellet who departed this life the 24th day of May 1721 aged 63 years'
'Blessed are they yt (that) in ye Lord do die From their labours they rest eternally'. This is based on Revelation Chapter 14 verse 13.
In typical style, spacing errors are set against the wonderful carving of the angel. The word 'die' is fitted in smaller case above the line and 'Eternally' is started on one line and finished below.
Moving outside and a gravestone to one Ann Allatt. This stone is sunken in to the ground, with parts of the inscription lost as a result. I have taken the inscription noted in the Heathcote study. Obviously, much of the subsidence here is fairly recent.
'Here lyeth the body of Ann ye wife of Robert Allett who departed this life July ye 13 1717 Next to this place lye the bodies of Robert and Mary their children Robert departed this life December ye 27th 1715 Mary departed this life June ye 5 1716'
Another fine quality carving. The hourglass and crossed bones are in their usual place at the top of the stone. Some damaged and hard to read text runs across the top which appears to say 'As runs ye glass so our lives pass'.
A short distance away in the gravestone to one James Draper; another to have died young here in the first quarter of the 18th century.
A fairly simple grave, this reads 'Here lies the body of James Draper he died Aug 18 1718 his age 19 years'
As with many graves of this type, the following verse was used for someone who had died young
'Short was his race long is his rest God takes them soon who he loves best'.
The story gets sadder as we reach a series of gravestone to the Goodicary family; who were hit by terrible tragedy.
'Here lies the body of Mary the daughter of John and Eliz Goodicary She departed this life January the 12th 1720 her age 20 years
Also Sarah Goodicary died Jan 1st 1718 aged 2 years'
'Come Ye Blessed' reads across the top. Heart symbolism at either side of the angel's face
The script below reads as follows...
'Sleep thou blest creatures in thy vines our sighes and teares will not awake thee we must live to our appointed time and then O then we'll overtake thee'
The gravestone immediately to the left of this, is to another member of the Goodicary family. Another child lost in their teens!
This one says 'Here lies the body of John the son of John Goodicary and Eliz his wife he died Sept 16th 1721 his age 19 year'
This stone is leaning over and is sunk down somewhat, and a couple of lines of the epitaph at the bottom have been buried. What is still visible states 'It is much lamented amongst us all that so rair a plant so soon should fall'
The hourglass and crossed bones remind the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die.
The tragedy to befall this family continues with another double gravestone to two more children lost.
'Here lies the body of Eliz daughter of John and Eliz Goodicary she died July 21st 1722 aged 15 year
Also Luce ye daughter of John and Eliz Goodicary died April 7th 1722 aged 7 year
Again two hearts, symbols of love for two children lost in days of low life expectancy and extreme hardship for many.
Death was a part of these people's lives; this being reinforced in the inscription at the foot of the this grave...
'Reader stand still and shed a tear upon the dust that sleepeth here and whilst thou reads of the state of me think on the cup that runs for thee'.
This is a variation on the poem where three Kings in their finery meet three skeletons. One of the skeletons says to the Kings 'as you are now so we once were. As we are now so you shall be'.
A gravestone to Henty Steel is unusual in that it is carved on both sides. The front of tis stone reads 'Here lieth interr'd the body of Henry Steel who departed this life November the 16th 1708 in the 73rd year of his age'.
The reverse has the following inscription 'It's appointed all men must die and not live here eternally and after death be judged all when God almighty pleased to call'
The gravestone to Rebekah Jackson leans forward and has partially sunk, leaving any inscription at the foot of the stone buried.
What is visible reads as follows...
'Here lies the body of Rebekah the wife of Thom Jackson and daughter of William and Mary Guy died November 26th 1711 in the 23rd year of her age.
There has been a number of gravestones listed here for those who died young. It was still possible though to live to a fair age, although by today's standards each of this married couple would still have died prematurely!
'Here lies the body of Matthias Wells he died Sept 6th 1719 aged 67 years Also Mary ye wife of Matthias Wells died April 7th 1721 aged 64 years'
Across the top of this gravestone reads '...days of my appointed time will I wait until my change comes'
Script at the foot of the stone says... 'A loving husband and a virtous wife here les confined both to leave this life and tho their bodys do return to dust their souls I hope are dwelling with the just'
The oldest Vale of Belvoir Angel gravestone in the church grounds here dates back to 1697, and is to Elizabeth Bracebridge. The stone itself can be found in the shadow of other gravestones; tucked in closely behind. Not the easiest to photograph. The script is fairly weathered by still readable.
'here lies the body of Elizabeth the daughter of Thomas Bracebridge by Jane his wife she departed this life July the 13th 1697 in the 16th year of her age.
Another family hit by repeated tragedies. A slate tablet on the exterior wall of the church shows that three of Elizabeth's siblings passed away before her. Jane died in 1686, John in 1688 and James in 1697.
Very sadly, Elizabeth was to have her own gravestone as there was no space left on the wall plaque to record anyone else!
The gravestone to one John Moore is fairly plain by the standards of some others of this type. The angel is still beautifully carved, although the face of the angel here has been damaged over the years. There is no symbolism or text at the top to go with angel, and there is no inscription at the foot of the grave.
What there is reads 'Here lies the body of John the son of John Moore by Elizb his wife he departed this life Mar 9th 1711 in the 21st year of his age.