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St Alkmund, Duffield, Derbyshire

Several visits in 2015: During visits to churchyards elsewhere in Derbyshire I keep seeing small headstones dated around 1650 to 1750 with somewhat square cut letters (the cross section of the cuts are square, not the letter forms. Most lettering is 'v-cut'). Some of these have been filled with lead. Now when I see square cut letters without lead, I wonder... were they once lead filled?

The churchyard has a few Swithland slate headstones, which are generally well cut as with most stones from Swithland. One - a memorial to four daughters who died in childhood - had a bit of a clumsy end to the word 'departed'. Some of the stones were looking gorgeous in a heavy frost one morning.

While many of the stones are still in place and still upright, some smaller stones and footstones have been removed to build a retaining wall immediately around the church, where the graveyard is raised above the floor level of the church. A couple of slate headstones now laid flat alerted me to the habit of cutting practice letters on the part of a headstone which would eventually be beneath the ground and never seen. See the blog post about it here.

The headstone for Henry Statham has an edited date of death. There are a number of ways a letter cutter can 'change' details once a stone has already been cut. Patching, chasing out a dip and recutting or just cutting the new details straight over the top. Read more about the business of corrections here.

The headstone for Mr and Mrs Sampson and Frances Marsden, cut in Swithland slate, has subtly different styles for his and her text, side by side. Different use of italics, different flourishes, different style of date (Roman vs Arabic numerals). They died only 16 months apart - I wonder if the same person cut both sections at different times or two different letter carvers were at work?

There are two lead panels hanging in the church, recording the restoration of the roof leads in 1963/4 and the initials of the vicar of 1724, presumably for the same reason.

Poor Frank was married in this church a long time ago, before the chancel screen was removed from the chancel arch to the entrance to the Bradshaw chapel.

© Copyright Poor Frank Raw, 2016