Come Ye Blessed...
CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN
Church Post Code LE14 3ET
There was 34 Vale Of Belvoir Angel gravestones recorded in the Heathcote study, making this the largest numberof surviving stones of this kind in any church grounds. A fair few are not in situ and are leaning against the south wall of the church itself; these being particularly easy to read and photograph.
I will start off this look at the Belvoir Angel stones here with one to Rebecca Barnet. This is one of several which are not is situ, but which are leaning up against the church wall.
This one, along with many others here, are in really good condition, amazing really given that this is getting on for 300 years old!
This stone reads 'Here lies ye body of Rebecca wife of Will Barnet who departed this life Dec ye 28th 1728 ages 62 years'
'Tho death has parted you and I our bodys to dust must tourn I hope yt (that) we shall meet again you have no cause yo mourn'.
I really like the inscription on this stone! This is an often used epitaph but it is the only one that I can think of where they have added an 'o' to 'turn' to get it to rhyme with 'mourn'. Then, after adding the extra letter, the mason found that he couldn't fit it all in and the final letter had to be added in smaller face above the intended line!
'Come Ye Blessed' is carved across the top of the stone to William Wright Senior, along with the hourglass and crossed bones. Heart symbols can be seen either side of what must be said is a rather perplexed looking angel.
Another beautifully crafted stone; which is in wonderful condition. This stone reads.
'Here lies the body of William Wright Senior he departed this life the 6th day of Sept 1719 in the 67th year of his age'
'You readers all both old and young your time on earth will not be long For death will come and die you must and like to me return to dust'.
The stone to William Wright, who sadly died very young is unusual in that the angel is at the foot of the grave rather than at the top.
This is not unique; there are a few of these around, but they are pretty scarce!
There is some damage to the right hand side of this stone as we look at it, with the father's name illegible apart from the initial 'R'.
This stone is inscribed 'Here lies the body of Will the son of R and Mary Wright he died June ye 29th 1724 in his infancy'
'Short was his race long is his rest God takes them soon who he loves best'.
A stone to another William Wright is hard to read, being surrounded by other gravestones; the photograph used here being taken at a angle.
I struggled to decipher the epitaph at the foot of this stone but it was recorded by the Heathcote's in their study.
This is a fine double angel stone but the right hand angel as we look at it is badly damaged.
'Here lies the body of William Wright who departed this life Mar the 4th 1733 his age 58 years'
'Farewell my wife and children dear which in this world I've left behind Do not lament nor shed a tear eternity be sure you mind'
Life was often a very short affair sadly in those days. It was still possible to live a long life but infant mortality was high and life expectancy was probably in the early 40's.
This stone is to two very young children of the Wright family, it reads
'William the son of John and Eliz Wright died Mar the 11th 1722 Also John the son of John and Eliz afores'd died May ye 19th 1723'
'Nigh to this stone two babes do lie who both died in their infancy'
The stone concludes with the inscription 'For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven'. This comes from Matthew Chapter 19 verse 14 and was words said by Jesus to rebuke the disciples who attempted to stop some children from coming to him to be blessed. This is a phrase which was often used on stones to very young children.
The gravestone to one Rebecca Browne is sadly split in half from top to bottom. In the Heathcotre's listing they have a full inscription so I am assuming that the damage happened in recent years.
They recorded this stone as follows...
'Here lies the body of Rebecca the wife of Richard Browne senr She died Mar 10th 1726 aged 62 years'
O cruall death yt |(that) could co cruall be to take ye fruit & then cut down ye tree Hard hearted death thou was yt wod not spare a kind a loving wife & mother dear'
Sadly, another grave to a young person, this time an 18 year old girl. This one is damaged down the left hand side as we look at it, with some of the lettering being lost.
It is a fair guess to suggest that the young girl's Christian name is Elizabeth.
'Here lyeth the body of (...) beth the daughter of ( ...) Widowson and Ann his wife who departed this life December the 10th 1742 in the 18th year of her age'
'Grieve not for me my glass is run it is the Lord his will be done To grieve for me alas it is in vain for your great loss is my eternal gain So do not weep but to the Lord do pray that we may meet again another day'
Elizabeth's father could have been Joseph whose gravestone we come to next.
The stone to Joseph Widowson is a little bruised and battered, with the top half of the angel's face missing, along with parts of each wing. The text though is very clear.
'Here lyeth the body of Joseph Widowson he departed this life September the 14th 1749 aged 51 years'
'A sore disease my body seized that pearst me to the heart Till death gave ease as God did please to ease me of my smart'.
A finely carved double angel stone to one Richard Wright is leaning over and partially sunk in to the ground.
It reads 'Here lies the body of Richard Wright who departed this life Sept ye 20th 1728 aged 43 years'
'All you that do behold this stone pray think how quickly I was gone Death does not always warning give so be carefull how you live Repent therefore no time delay I in my strength was call'd away'
A very weathered 'Come Ye Blessed' hour glass and crossed bones can be seen on the top of the grave to Jonathan Georg. Unusually, there is no epitaph at the foot of this stone. It reads
'Here lies ye body of Jonathan son of Will Georg by Alice his wife who died February the 3rd 1734 aged 8 years'
A gravestone to a mother and daughter is tragic obviously but very interesting in that the angels are of different sizes with a smaller angel for the daughter! A sad tale is told here obviously but what a charming memorial!
I can't recall seeing anything like this one anywhere else! The stone reads...
'Here lieth the bodyes of Elizabeth the wife of George Brown she died April ye 19th 1746 in the 50th year of her age'
'Also on the south side lieth Mary daughter of the said George and Elizabeth Brown She died February the 23rd aged 11 years'
'Afflictions fore long time we bore physicians was in vain till death gave ease as God did please to ease us of our pain'
A weathered double angel stone tells the sad tale of two young children who passed away within two days of each other. Such tragic times and what hard lives these people lived! This was not a part of our school teaching years back, and in fairness it should have been!
'John ye son of Henry and Sarah Browne died June the 24th 1722 in the 4th year of his age'
'Also Henry ye son of Henry and Sarah Browne died June 22nd 1722 in the 5th year of his age'.
'Though death has parted you and I our bodys to dust must turn I hope that we shall meet again you have no cause to mourn'
The angel on the gravestone to John Stevenson Junior is quite weathered and looks out from a patina of lichen. The stone itself is leaning with part of the epitaph obscured by another leaning stone. It is a fairly common rhyme though and enough of it is visible to be able to work out the rest.
This one is inscribed 'Here lies the body of John Stevenson Junior he departed this life January the 15th 1742 in the 23rd year of his age'
'All you that do behold this stone then think how quickly I was gone Death does not always warning give so be carefull how you live Repent in time no time delay I in my youth was call'd away For death will come and die you must and like to me return to dust'
'Come Ye Blessed' is carved across the top of the stone to John Wright, part of the text lost due to damage. The carving on the angel here is fabulous.
The lettering here is carved in relief, the background around the letters being varved away to leave the letters themselves standing proud of the stone. Great skills!
Here again though we see the limitations that the same masons had with text and lettering. One line starts off in capitals but drops to lower case when it becomes obvious that the wording isn't all going to fit. It is all part of their charm!
'Here lies the body of John the dear child of Richard & Mary Wright he departed this life Dec ye 3rd 1731 his age 6 years'
'It is much lamented amongst us all that so rair a plant so soon should fall for all ye country tis their cry O pity that he so soon should die Blessed are ye dead who die in ye Lord'
Heart symbols can be seen either side of an angel with pointy chin on the stone to John Right, which may be the incorrect spelling of his surname.
Interesting to see that the name 'John 'is carved in elaborate script, which covers a lot of space, with the mason only just fitting in the surname as a result!
This one reads 'Here lies the body of John Right he departed this life January the 30th 1753 aged 63 years'.
'I had my part of worldly cared when I was living as you are But now my body is turned to dust awaiting the rising with the just'.
Text across the top of the stone to William Browne reads 'In the days of my appointed time will I wait until my change comes' This is from Job Chapter 14 verse 14. Given the hard lives that these people lived, hard and often short lives I am surprised that there are not more Bible references on these stones from Job!
Underneath are the hour glass and crossed bones, the former now lost through damage.
This one is inscribes 'Here lies the body of William Browne senr who died Dec 10th in the 78th year of his age 1720'
This stone is sunk in to the ground a little any any epitaph is lost as a result.
Another to have sunk down a little is the stone to Mary Brown, with any epitaph lower down being lost as a result.
Spellings of surnames are not always accurate on these stones and this could be the same family as the Browne's mentioned above.
'Here lies the body of Mary ye wife of Ge (...) Brown senr she departed this life Nov the 28th in the 69th year of her age'