STAUNTON IN THE VALE, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE.
CHURCH OF ST MARY
Church Post Code NG13 9PE
A fine and very interesting church, with five Belvoir Angel stones. Looking at these five stones in conjunction with each other brings home how hard a life the people lived at this time. Death surrounded them and the personal information on these gravestones makes for interesting and very sad reading.
The first stone reads 'Here lies the body of Hannah Musson the wife of John Musson she died March ye 17th 1722 ages 37 years. Part of the inscription at the foot of the stones is not readable but the top line starts of by saying 'Hard pangs of labour gave benoni birth'.
The hard pangs of labour indicates that the lady sadly died in child birth. The phrase benoni birth gave me some problems. What on earth did this mean? It turns out that this is Biblical. In Genesis Chapter 35 verses 17 - 19 tells of Jacob's wife Rachel dying shortly after the birth of her son. She named him Benoni just before she died but her husband changed the name to Benjamin. Benoni is Hebrew, but is translated as 'Son of my sorrow'. This gravestone has 'child of my sorrow' carved on to the second line.
The angel here appears half way down the grave and is accompanied by the hourglass and crossed bones, symbols of the mortality of Man,
'Come Ye Blessed' is carved across the top of the gravestone to William Brown.
'Here lies the body of William Brown deceased Jan the 24th 1725 aged 49 years.
Spacing issues here meant that the mason carving this ran out of space with '49 years' being added in much smaller lettering at the end of the line.
Inscription lower down reads 'All you who do behold my stone pray think how quickly I was gone Death does not always warning give therefore be carefull how you live Repent therefore no time delay I in my prime was snatch'd away'
Close by, a stone to Mary Musson, who passed away on Christmas Eve 1725 reads as follows...
'Here lies the body of Mary Musson wife of Tho Musson she died the 24th of Dec 1725 aged 59
'You readers 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'.
Death was a part of every day life for the people living at this time. Life expectancy was in the low 40's and infant mortality was very high. 'Be Ye Ready' is carved across the top of the stone here. In other words, be prepared to follow the deceased at some point and be ready when your day comes having lived a good Christian life.
Thomas Musson, husband of Mary, died in May 1722 at the age of 67 years, which was a fair age for those days. His stone reads
'Here lies the body of Thomas Musson who departed this life May ye 10th 1722 in the 67 year of his age'.
'Remember Man that die ye must and like to me return to dust. All flesh is like the withering hay it springs it grows then fades away'.
The fifth Vale Of Belvoir Angel stone here is to Francis Moss who died aged 41 years in February 1720.
The Angel across the top of this gravestone, as with some others, has a downcast expression. The deceased was a family man with a wife and children; taken in the prime of life.
The angel was traditionally used to symbolise the flight of the soul to heaven. 'Come Ye Blessed' it reads across the top of the stone. An invitation to those who had lived a good life and who would spend eternity in heaven.
The angel was there to care for and escort the soul of the deceased to heaven.. An important task. The angel is downcast as the man has died but it could also have been carved with a joyful expression as he was on his way to heaven.
'Here lies the body of Francis Moss He died Fenruary ye 28th Anno Dom 1720 aged 41 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'