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St Chad, Longford, Derbyshire

06/03/2015: There is an interesting collection of memorials in this churchyard, including my all-time favourite 'edited' piece of headstone lettering. See the last image below.

The first headstone I noticed when I got to Longford was for Dorothy Salt. The first letter on that headstone kind of jumps out at you.

Longford has an unusually large number of stones where the letter carver has experimented with styles other than v-cut, which confirm my view that v-cut is always the best option. Samples shown here include a very shallow flat cut on Swithland slate and a shallow U cut on Welsh slate. Both are hard to read unless there is a strong light almost parallel to the surface of the stone. In flat lighting on an overcast day, the letters just fade into the background. I wrote a blog post on the styles of lettering you might find inside and outside English churches.

Longford also has some Victorian cast iron grave markers. The Victorians loved their cast iron and sometimes used it even in places where it was unsuited to the task. As a result the lettering on all of the iron grave markers here has rusted away.

One box-tomb at Longford has a winged head at one end and a (much eroded) semi effigy at the other, judging by the clothing, probably a woman? The text on the side is eroded away. A pair of headstones for members of the Thacker family have nicely ornamented pediments, cut in local sandstone, one having a face with angel wings.

Inside the church are numerous monuments to the Longford family, lords of the manor until the 16th century. The church stands next to Longford Hall. The monuments were restored and conserved in 1984 and moved from the south to the north aisle. Some of the effigies carry the usual range of graffiti from the 17th to 19th century.

The church has four ledger stones for members of the Peacock family. One, for "Mrs Anne Peacock ye Daughter of Mr Richard and Susanna Peacock", died in the "44th year of her Verginity". The term of address "Miss", meaning an unmarried woman, came into fashion later in the 18th century, so the use of Mrs here still refers to a woman of higher social status, not necessarily a married woman. So the stone does not contradict itself when it refers to the 44th year of her "Verginity", though I'm not going to make any assumptions or judgements about her virginity, regardless of her age and marital status...

In the chancel is an attractive memorial to a member of the Coke family, dated 1901, set in an alabaster frame.

At the top of the headstone for William Robinson are the words "In Memory of...". The letter carver had a problem with the word Memory. It looks as though the word was first carved as 'Memmory' and then the first two letters, 'Me', carved over the top of the 'em' as if to close up the space after deleting the extra m. Except we can see what he did. All too clearly.

Thomas Twigg of Longford was married three times. His first wife, who died in 1794 aged 29, was called Elizabeth. With his first wife he had a daughter, who died in 1795 aged one year. Her name was Elizabeth. His second wife, who died in 1801 aged 31, was called Elizabeth. His third wife, who died in 1824 aged 43, was called Elizabeth. With his third wife he had a daughter, who died in 1842 aged 31. Her name was Elizabeth. Thomas and his second wife had a son who died in infancy. His name was Thomas.

If you ever visit St Chad's in Longford, don't forget to have a look for the headstone for the unfortunate Hannah Hill. This is my favourite 'edited' headstone to date. Hannah was unlucky enough to die at the young age of 25 in 1767. The letter carver who made her headstone then added insult to injury by getting wrong both her age (he first put 21 and it was later changed to 25) and even her name. The names Hannah and Elizabeth are carved on the same piece of stone. It looks as though Elizabeth came first as the spacing of the line seems good - and the other lines on the stone seem reasonably well laid out. The letters in the name Hannah are noticeably wider than the other similar capitals on the stone, so it looks as though Hannah was stretched out to fit the width of the underlying Elizabeth. The letter carver definitely had a bad day at the office.

© Copyright Poor Frank Raw, 2016