CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN
Church Post Code LE14 3ET
'Memento Mori' is carved across the top of the stone to George Browne; remember death! Accompanying this is the hour glass and crossed bones.
Text and symbols to remind the onlooker that man is mortal and will die. Be prepared as you do not know when your time will come!
It is important to always remember that these stones are passing on a message to those looking on, who one day will follow in the footsteps of the deceased!
This stone has sunk in to the ground a little with any inscription lower down on the stone lost as a result. This one reads 'Here lies the body of George Browne senr who departed this life Nov 29th 1720 in ye 71st year of his age'
The angel on the stone to Mickel Browne has a slightly downturned mouth, pointed chin and little in the way of hair. Heart symbols are to be seen either side of the angel's face.
This is another to have sunk in to the ground a little. There is an epitaph low down on the stone but, to all intents and purposes it has been lost below ground.
This one is inscribed 'Here lies the body of Mickel Browne senior he departed this life December the 26th 1737 his age 47 years'
The stone to Annette Man has 'To Die Is Gain' written across the top, much of this text now weathered away. This is a quote from Philippians Chapter 1 verse 21.
This is a high quality stone, with the toptwo lines being carved in relief; the background around the lettering being carved away leaving the lettering standing proud of the rest of the stone.
It is interesting that it is mentioned that Annette was the wife of George Man of Hikling. There is a grave to a George Man in the church grounds who passed away in 1738, 15 years after she died. Perhaps this was husband and wife; curious if yes that they are not together.
'Here lies the body of Annette the wife of Ge Man of Hikling she died July 23rdin the 27th year of her age 1723'.
Only the first two lines of the epitaph is visible, the stone having sunk a little, it reads 'A loving husband and 2 children dear in this world I've left behind'
The stone to Elizabeth Goodbourn is another of very high quality; the majority being carved in relief.
There is no symbolism on this one, with the date of her passing occupying the spots where the hour glass and crossed bones would often be placed.
'Here lies the body of Elizabeth the wifeof John Goodbourn who departed this life Nov ye 25th 1729 aged 34 years.
The epitaph at the foot of the grave is mostly lost under the ground, Just the first line can still be seen, which says 'Pale death will hardly find another'
Pale Death here is liable to refer to one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse where death is said to have ridden a pale horse.
This was set out to be a historical record; detailing these beautiful carvings, It is possible though to put together some sort of social history. They led hard lives and it is only by looking at these stones closely that this comes to light.
So sad, some of the stories here including this one, a stone to a mother and daughter.
Rebecca the mother died in 1728 ages 25 years. Elizabeth her daughter followed her 14 months later in her second year. Perhaps Rebecca died in childbirth with her daughter surviving but following her those months later.
Death would have surrounded these people for their entire lives. Those who survived childhood were not guaranteed to live to their 30's. A married couple who each lived to their late 60's would have been the exception rather than the rule. Such hard times and the people here, who could afford these stones, would have been well off. How much worse for those who had little?
The gravestone to husband and wife Robert and Elizabeth Whiticary shows that they died within ten days or so of each other, each aged 69 years.
Heart symbolism can be seen throughout the top of the gravestone and unusually for stones of this type, there is a Christian cross top left and right.
This is a fine double angel gravestone, with the angel on the left hand side as we look at it looking really cross!
The stone reads 'Here lies the body of Robert Whiticary he died February ye 24th 1739/40 aged 69 years'
'Also here lies the body of Elizabeth the wife of Robert Whiticary she died March the 5th 1739/40 aged 69 years'
The unusual date is a reflection of the uncertainty on dates due to the change over from Julian to Gregorian calendar. This was made official in Britain in 1752 but was official in other parts of Europe from as far back as 1582.
This beautiful double angel stone, divided in to two columns, reads 'Rebecca the wife of George Whiticary departed this life the 15th day of February 1728 her age 25 years. Also Eliz the daughter of George Whiticary by Rebecca his wife departed this life April the 7th 1729 in the 2nd year of her age'
The epitaph is sunken in to the ground a little but the first three lines read 'Twas Gods command that I should not live with thee To obay his wish that thou'st come to die by me In this vain world there is no certain rest...
The angel here looks out from x coating of white lichen, heart symbols to be seen either side of the angel's face.
'Here lies the body of William Read he departed this life November 2nd 1732 in the 56th year of his age'
The stone to Dorothy Man tells another sad tale. Much of the epitaph at the foot of the grave is lost now below ground level but the Heathcote study recorded the first line as saying 'Hard Pangs of Labour'
This indicates, sadly that the lady died in childbirth. There are a few Belvoir Angel stones with inscriptions such as this, The full line normally reads 'hard pangs of labour gave Benoni birth'.
The term Benoni birth is Biblical. In Genesis Chapter 35 verses 16 - 18 Jacob's wife Rachel dies soon after giving birth. Just before she dies she names her son Benoni, which means son of my suffering or son of my sorrows.
This stone is inscribed 'Dorothy wife of Henry Man Junior departed this life the 17th day of December 1727 in ye 25th year of her age Hard pangs of labour...'
'Come Ye Blessed' is carved across the gravestone to another child, Mary Palin passing away at the age of 13 years. The angel here frowns.
'Mary the daughter of Thomas Palin by Eliz his wife who died Mar ye 5th 1726 aged 13 years and by her side here lies her dear grandmother, three sisters and one only brother'
'Let us not in tears remain because they sleep but till Christ comes again'
The double angel gravestone to John Smith is damaged, the left hand angel as we look at it is missing, with the stone leaning over; the epitaph at the foot of the stone buried.
This one reads 'Here lies the body of John Smith who departed this life Dec the 27th 1726 in the 63rd year of his age'
'Also 3 children of John Smith by Rebecca his wife Elizabeth Richard and Elizabeth all lie night this stone and died in their infancy'
'With conscience pure I hope to see his face and rise again to glorifie his grace'
'Blessed are the dead who die in ye Lord' can be seen carved across the top of the stone to Thomas Welch; this coming from Revelation Chapter 14 verse 13, along with heart symbols on either side of the angel's head.
This stone is inscribed 'Here lyeth the body of Thomas Welch Clark son of John and Elizabeth Clark he departed this life May the 3rd 1747 in the first year of his age'.
There appears to be no epitaph lower down on this stone, although the stone has sunk a little so any inscription may have been lost.
'Remember Thy End' reads across the top of the stone to Sarah Welch. A fitting reminder to the onlooker with the deceased here passing away at the age of 29. Yet another person to make it through childhood but to still pass away young.
This one is inscribed 'Here lies ye body of Sarah ye wife of Tho Welch she died Feb 15th 1729 aged 29 years'
The inscription lower down is really difficult to make out, with the last line or two now being buried. I could make out the following though 'Twas Gods command that thou should not live with me his wish that ime come to lie by thee In this vain world there is no certain rest'.