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Holy Trinity, Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire

24/01/2015: The snow had cleared a bit and the sun came out and I made my first real excursion as Frank Raw to this attractive little church. Holy Trinity churchyard has a few really big sandstone headstones. The first here is over five feet high above ground and the letters of the name are 7cm high - nearly three inches. Local stone, so probably not expensive, and otherwise just the same as a typical headstone, but just rather intrusive somehow.

The four daughters of John and Frances Blackwall managed to survive being born, the usual (and often deadly) childhood diseases, but then all died as young adults. Mary died aged 32, Frances at 30, Ann at 31 and Catherine at 23. The headstone doesn't state the cause of death, I wonder if there was some family disease which carried them all off in their middle years.

There is a small and unusual stone for someone called Millicent (with a reversed N) - the other details are now underground or lost. The letters are nicely square cut with no serifs and raised above the surface.

Close to the wall of the south aisle is the headstone for John and Mary Ford and their three infant children. The lettering is quite poorly executed and there was an error (or a breakage of the surface of the slate) where the date of John's death is cut, so the stone has been patched. Sadly the patch adds nothing to the beauty of the stone. A blog post here describes the options open to a letter carver when something goes wrong.

The small, simple and naive headstone for William Bunting, probably from the early 1700s, has reversed Ns, which are very common, but also reversed Ds and Gs.

There is another naively cut stone, for Hannah Daws, with some interesting superscript letters, either inserted due to space problems or after the event when the spelling had been checked. Sometimes these rustic memorials have more charm and beauty than those executed with crisp and perfect lettering. When carving lettering we always aim for perfection, but the imperfection of the hand made article is where the humanity creeps in.

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