Come Ye Blessed...
CHURCH OF ST LUKE
Church Post Code LE14 3AQ
The villages of Hickling, Upper Broughton and Nether Broughton, which form a triangle on the Leicestershire / Nottinghamshire border area are rich in Vale of Belvoir Angels. Just under a third of all of the surviving stones of this type are to be found in the grounds of these three churches. There were 33 Belvoir Angel gravestones recorded in the Heathcote study in the church grounds of St Luke, Hickling.
It has been suggested that this villages was the home of the firm of stonemasons which were responsible for these stones.
I will start off with a look at the gravestone to one Samuel Morley. This is unusual in that there are smaller angels in the top left and right corners; where the hourglass and crossed bones would normally be. This is rare!
The stone is tightly behind another leaving it difficult to photograph.
This one reads 'Here lies the body of Samuel Morley he died June ye 8th 1738 aged 48 years'
'Farewell my wife and children which in this world I've left behind do not lament nor shed a tear eternity be sure you mind'
The gravestone to John Barlow has a stark message to the onlooker 'Memento Mori' remember death. This is backed up in the inscription at the foot of the stone.
'Here lies the body of John Barlow son of William Barlow by Sarah his wife He died Sept the 7th 1710 his age 25 years'
Remember death! Sadly, life was hard for people at that time. It was still possible to live to a good age but life expectancy was around 40 years and many fell young; including John here.
The inscription at the foot of the stone reminds those looking on to think on their own mortality and to be prepared when their time comes.
'You younger men ye of strength brave think yt (that) you must come to the grave'
The stone to Richard Smith also has 'Memento Mori' carved across the top, with the message that Man is mortal and will die backed up by Hour Glass and crossed bones.
This stone is of very high quality, with the top four lines carved in relief, the background around the letter being chiseled away leaving the letters themselves standing out from the stone.
Here though, on a stone of great quality, we see the limitation that these masons had with lettering and spacing. On three of the four lines they struggled to get the final letters in, with the 'T' and 'H' of Smith being combined in a valiant effort to get it all in.
This one reads Here lies the body of Richard Smith deceased March the 5th 1719 Aetat 59'
The following is not in relief 'Here also lies the body of Elizabeth wife of Richard Smith above s'd who died March the 5th 1734 her age 74 years'
The gravestone to Ann Musson has four heart symbols across the top, symbolizing the love shown for her.
'Here lyeth the body of Ann Musson she died June ye 13th 1755 in the 45th year of her age'
The inscription below I have struggled with to be honest. Words flow in to each other and words that couldn't be fitted on to their proper line are included above the line in small lettering. There are a couple of gaps on this one...
'With conscience pure I hope to see his face and rise again to glorifie his grace In days of youth to serve thy God be (?) the young are of (?) before ye'
The angel on the next stone is very badly damaged, with the entire right hand side as we look at it being broken off. We have lost half of the angel and much of the text.
This would have been an impressive piece of work pre damage, with the complete angel probably looking somewhat like that on the stone to John Caunt immediately below. A little different than the other angels here.
What little text remain reads ' Here lyeth the body of Bryan (...) erton he (departed this life?) July 7th 1703.
Different in style to the Belvoir Angel stones which surround it; the stone to John Caunt is a lovely piece of work in superb condition.
The hourglass and crossed bones are in their usual places top right and left; with this stones inscribed as follows...
'Here lyeth the body of John Caunt the son of John Caunt by Dorothy his wife who departed this life August ye 20th Anno Dom 1702 in the 31st year of his age'
'Be Ye Ready. reads across the top of the stone to Caunt, another warning to the onlooker that their day will come.
'Here lies the body of Anne the daughter of Ellin Caunt who died March ye 7th 1734 aged 17 years'
'Grieve not for me my glass is run it is the Lord his will be done Short was my race long is my rest God takes them soon who he loves best'
The inscription at the foot of the grave is from Revelation Chapter 14 verse 13 and it says 'Blessed are they yt in the Lord they die from their labours they rest eternally'
The stone to two young members of the Collishaw family tells another sad tale. When I started this site up, I was expecting to see lots of gravestones to the very young. What has surprised me is the number of people who passed away from their teens to, say 30 years old!
'Come Ye Blessed', the hourglass and crossed bones all feature at the top of this stone, which is used on both sides. On one side, this stone reads 'Here lies the body of John Collishaw son of John Collishaw by Mary his wife he departed this life February 12th 1704 in the 24th year of his age'
'Short was his race long is his rest God takes them soon who he loves best'
On the reverse side of this gravestone is the memorial to Anne, another Collishaw but not the sister of John,
This stone reads 'Here lies interred the body of Anne the daughter of Edward Collishaw by Rebecca his wife who died December ye 20th in the year of our Lord 1729 aged 20 years'
The epitaph lower down is partly obscured and I have had to take an educated guess at some of it. I have it down as reading 'The virgin fair within this tomb was cropt of (off|) just in her bloom exemplary parts was thee like to her we seldom see'
The stone to one John Smith is of the highest quality; this being a double angel stone with several lines carved in relief. However, again we see that the masons here' despite their great skill in other areas, struggled with the spacing of letters.
The word 'Cropwell' failed to fit at the end of the line, with the last three letters going in smaller lettering above the line. At the end, the word 'age' wouldn't fit at all and is added below the line, again in smaller lettering. An unusual inscription at the foot of this grave.
'Here lyeth the body of John Smith of Cropwell who died December the 23rd in the 74th year of his age'
'This world is a city full of crowded streets death is the market place where all men meet if life were merchandise yt (that) men could buy the rich would often live and poor men die'
The stone to Margaret Neal is another double angel. At first glance I thought that it had sunk in to the ground a little but it doesn't look as if it has. A wide stone, but not all that tall!
I had a little trouble with the inscription at the foot of this stone. There is one, or possibly two, words on the final line that I just cant make out.
'Here lies ye body of Margret ye wife of Christopher Neal who died Dec 3rd 1734 aged 48 years'
'Pale death will hardly find another so good a wife so kind a mother In all her actions she was kind they will not soon ( ? ) find'
Pale death here is more than likely a reference to the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse from Revelation. Death here was said to have ridden a pale horse.
'Come Ye Blessed' along with heart symbols, run across the top of this stone. It is probably worth reiterating that the angel was used on gravestones to symbolise the safe escorting of the soul of the deceased to heaven. In this case, the souls belongs to John and Thomas James, sadly both passing away very young.
'Here lieth the body of John ye son of John James by Margaret his wife he died December 27th 1719 aged 7 years'
'Thomas ye son of John and Margaret aforesaid died May 23rd 1719 aged 20 week'
'Death crops the flower the blossom and ye bud happy in youth are those whose lives are good'
Two young children passing away within seven months of each other. What hard lives these people lived.
The gravestone to Margret Man is another of the highest quality, it reads
'Here lies the body of Margret the wife of Joshua Man she di'd December the 10th 1730 in the 38th year of her age'
An interesting inscription below, in effect says the same as 'Be Ye Ready' but just in a slightly different way
'Let not the world have all your care and time prepare for death yt (that) you in glory shine'
A simple stone to another member of the Man family, sadly recording another young person to have passed away reads
'Mary the daughter of Stephen & Ann Man died April the 20th 1735 her age 15 years'
The stone to Anne Man featured the hour glass and crossed bones 'Come Ye Blessed' carved across the top.
This is another stone of the highest quality, with much of it carved in relief. A memorial of great quality for someone greatly loved who died very young
'Here lyeth the body of Anne the dear child of George Man by Mary his wife who di'd Nov the 19th day 1735 half a year old'
The inscription on this one is quite weathered and I struggled with much of it but I could make out that it ended in 'my makers everlasting praise'.
At the foot of this grave is inscribed 'For of such is the kingdom of Heaven'. This is from Matthew Chapter 19 verse 14 and is was often used on a child's gravestone
The stone to William Man Junior has the top edges tapering inwards in alignment with the angels wings. Just a really small point but this is quite unusual on gravestones of this type.
'Here lieth the body of William son of Wil Man Senior and Mary his wife he died August the 30th 1742 in ye 6th year of his age'
'Sleep thou blest creature in thy vines our sighes and teares will not awake thee We must live our appointed time and then O then we'll overtake thee'