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St Peter, Hope, Derbyshire

03/08/2015: (Locked). The temptation to crank out an age old joke must be strong for every headstone erected in this village... "Here rests in Hope..." etc etc. I only spotted one example, but I bet there are more.

The headstone for Thomas Robinson has a somewhat cramped and random piece of layout at the top. It looks as though the name and year were cut, leaving space for the other details and then it all went pear shaped. He says, "My moul'dring Bones inactive lie in dust, and wait the Resurrection of the Just". Other than the layout issues at the top this is a very well cut stone.

A unavoidable theme when looking at and writing about headstones from before the mid 20th century is childhood and infant death. Every churchyard has examples of named and unnamed infants who died soon after birth, children who died in the first year or two of life and mothers who died at or around the same time as a newborn child. Sometimes the stones erected for children are full of weeping, florid verse and equally florid flourishes, scrolls and angels. But I have a soft spot for the simple stone which is more factual and yet still carries the weight of a parent's grief. Hope has one such stone for Betty Hadfield. The local stone memorial is slightly naively laid out and cut, but is as sober and dignified a memorial as any you will find inside or outside the church.

Another example records George and Sarah Bolsover who lived 80 and 94 years respectively. Their headstone also records their children: John who died at 4 years, Mary 1, Molly 3, Sally 6, Matthew 2 and James at 7 days. Imagine a world before free healthcare, perinatal care, antibiotics and vaccines. George and Sarah Bolsover could tell you all about it.

One small error crept in when the letter cutter was adding the age of Ann Rodger. He forgot to put in the number of years and then realised after he added the Y of Years. Still, this stone is now eroding so quickly that his fix will be soon lost for ever.

The late Francis Hall, or the person who commissioned his headstone, or the letter carver, just couldn't resist it. Remember we are standing in the chuchyard in the middle of Hope, Derbyshire. "HERE RESTS IN HOPE, AWAITING Christ's return in Glory..."

One dilapidated box tomb shows a skull and bones on one face, now crumbling and sinking below the turf.

In 1817 Edward Somerset buried his wife Elizabeth aged just 29 years. Her headstone also records seven of their children. Two named and five unnamed. She must have been pregnant or grieving her entire married life. The bottom of the stone has the text "Beware of a slow sudden death", paraphrasing a poem by Edward Young, The Complaint: or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality.

© Copyright Poor Frank Raw, 2016