A Member of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits


Saturday 31 December 2011

Tis' the Season for Yellow Holly

After all the excesses of Christmas Day feasting, their can be no better antidote than a Boxing Day Graveyard trip with your family ~ the help of the additional headstone spotters, ensured that no stone remained unturned.
My Mum spotted this unusual yellow berried Holly in Warrington Cemetery in Cheshire.

Bacciflavia a yellow berried holly, first mentioned in 1775 although some sources refer to 1657. Dark green olive leaves. The berries often remain until well into the spring.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Home for the Homeless

St. John's Church is located on the Kirchwarft, Hooge, Germany. In the churchyard there is a simple wooden cross, which represents the 'Home for the Homeless'. This term refers to a site where the unidentified bodies of the victims of ship wrecks or drownings that have washed ashore are given a Christian burial.
Cemeteries of the Nameless were in use during the 18th and 19th Century mainly along the coastal areas, another can be found on the nearby island of Amrum. 

The island of Hooge consists of a group of artificial dwelling mounds known as Terps or Warft, which provide a safe ground during high tide and river floods. 

Hooge is one of the North Friesien Islands of Germany, just south of Denmark. These dwelling hills also occur in the coastal areas of the Netherlands ~ in the provinces of Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen. 

Annual flooding, causes the Terps to become isolated from one another and in particularly severe weather, flooding has rendered the Cemetery plots to literally become, Burials at Sea.

Monday 5 December 2011

Cafe in the Crypt

If you want a welcome break from Christmas shopping and fancy a Cuppa in the Crypt, then the one to visit is below St.Martin~in~the~Fields by Trafalgar Square in London. The Cafe is a wonderfully atmospheric and historic oasis of calm when compared to the activity that's going on above it.
The prices are very reasonable too.......... 

See the Spade and Pick on the funeral mound under the Death's Head on the stone below.

Near This Place Lye
Interred the Remains
Who departed this Life
Sep. 19th 1777
Aged 37 Years 

Friday 2 December 2011

Friday's Funerary Customs ~ Japanese Nokan

The Japanese ceremony of preparing the deceased for the journey to the afterlife, is called Nokan and the people who perform this ceremony are known as Nokanshi.

The Nokanshi's job is comparible to that of the mortician, however the Nokanshi has to perform the entire ritual under the watchful gaze of the deceased's family. The Nokanshi has to ensure that the family are unable to observe any naked body part of the deceased, as they undress, wash, prepare and re~dress their loved one in ritual clothes.  
Firstly the face of the deceased is prepared, a man will be shaved and later make~up is applied ~ this is done regardless of gender. The body is then washed and dressed in specially prepared clothes for the funeral.
Preparing the garments for the deceased

Finally they will lay the person in the coffin, first the body and then the head.
The entire ceremony is performed with beautifully flowing ritualistic movements that highlight it's grace and elegance. The Nokan's extreme perfection is upheld at all times and done with the utmost respect to both the family and the deceased.

The work of the Nokanshi, may appear to be an honorable task to most people in the Western world, but to a Japanese person this is regarded as one of the worst jobs you could have. Therefore many Nokanshi are secretive and evasive when speaking about their occupation, which is considered to be worse than that of a gravedigger. Handling the deceased, means that a Nokanshi has to be careful not to contract certain diseases and so they have regular vaccinations against such things as hepatitis.

Nokanshi training

Click on the bold type for a link to an article that gives an insight into the life of a Japanese Nokanshi .

A trailer for the Award Winning film Departures  about the life of a Nokanshi can be seen by clicking on the bold type.


Somtimes you have to wait a little longer for the best things in life and I am so glad that I stayed awake until 2.30am to watch this beautifully made film with such a wonderful musical score, what could be better, I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

This film is a touching portrayal of the story of Daigo Kobayashi ~ Masahiro Motoki ~ who begins the story as a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and now finds himself without a job.
Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled 'Departures' thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a 'Nokanshi', a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life.

While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of 'Nokanshi', acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed.
The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.


To find out more about the Ceremony of Nokan, click on the bold type.


Thursday 1 December 2011

Dove and Anchor

In Loving Memory of
beloved son of
William & Alice Banner
who Died 9th Dec. 1925 Aged 18 Years
Just as Life seemed Bright
God called him home to rest
also the above
Alice Banner
Died 22nd March 1942 Aged 73 Years
Until We Meet Again
also Billy
Son of Charles & Annie Banner
Died Feb 16th 1932 Aged 2 Years
also the above William Banner
Died July 28th 1946 Aged 76 Years

This beautifully detailed carving from Runcorn Cemetery in Cheshire, depicts a Dove, which is regarded as a symbol of Peace and Purity and the Anchor represents Hope.
Whilst the Lilies at the side of the headstone symbolise Purity and Chastity and the Roses are for Everlasting Love. 

Monday 28 November 2011

Queen Victoria's Courier

This stone
was erected by the
and the
Prince of Wales
 to mark their appreciation of the
long and valued services of
Joseph Julius Kanne
Joseph Julius Kanne, was Queen Victoria's invaluable courier, the director of her continental journeys.
Kanne was the son of Josephine Loewenfeld and Leopold Kanne and was born about 1818 in Austria. An article in the Jewish Chronicle of Oct 1947, tells that Josephine was the daughter of Moses Loewenfeld of Schoenwald who owned a distillery there. While Leopold’s family were originally from Frankfort a Main, a wealthy and influential family.
Josephine and Leopold lived in Pilsen, after Leopold’s death Josephine moved to Prague and died in 1874 and is buried in the Jewish Cemetery there.Joseph then took British naturalisation in 1864 having seen active service in the Crimean War where he had been present at the siege of Sebastopol.

Queen Victoria arrived in Berlin early in the morning on 24th Apr 1888 to visit her daughter. Soon after she heard the news that:
'Poor good Kanne, who had a relapse a week ago after having recovered wonderfully from the first attack in March had become much worse and was in great danger' an hour later the Queen was advised of his death at his private residence in Dover Street, London. She wrote 'For thirty years he had attended me on all my journeys, making all the arrangements in a most admirable manner. He used to think of every little thing for my pleasure and comfort and had a wonderful power of organisation. I can hardly realise that he is gone and he will be such a loss. All my children and people are so grieved'.

His epitaph reads: This stone was erected by the Queen and the Prince of Wales to mark their appreciation of the long and valued services of Joseph Julius Kanne.
In memory of Joseph Julius Kanne, for nearly 40 years one of Her Majesty’s most devoted servants. Died 24 April 1888 aged 70 years.

The London Gazette reported on 26 Jun 1888 that probate was granted on 13 June to Achille Vintras of Hanover Square, Doctor of Medicine. Dr Vintras was the founder of the French Hospital in London.



Sunday 27 November 2011

Cemetery Vandalised by Town Council

Saffron Walden Town Council Vandalises It's Own Cemetery

It certainly comes to something, when the people to whom you would report this kind of vandalism to, are in fact the culprits of this very act themselves.
Our local newspaper reported, that a visitor to the cemetery had leant on a headstone, which fell upon her and injured her leg.
The knee~jerk response of the town council, was to 'Topple Test' all the other upright stones and those that appeared unstable, were then laid down.
Approximately 200 stones have now been toppled over as a result of the test. Relatives are furious after they were informed by the council, that the cemetery would need to have been closed down, if they had not dealt with the stones in accordance with Health and Safety Regulations.
Labour MP John Mann said ' Excellent guidance has been given to sort out the scandal of Health and Safety zealousness in graveyards but local authorities are snubbing it. What is going to be done to get rid of the nonsense of laying down graves all across Britain ?' 

 The council is currently writing to inform relatives of the steps that were taken with their families headstones and to re~assure them the procedure was done in a caring and dignified way. However, the cost to re~erect a single headstone is approximately £100 and the families are expected to cover these costs themselves.

Monday 21 November 2011

Monday Mourning ~ Angel and Stars

An Angel amongst the Stars leads this young wife towards Heaven.

In kind Rememberance of
the beloved wife of
Frederick Willm. Canham
of Ipswich
who died Nov.8th 1873
In the 23rd Year of Her Age
Yes she is dead, but ~ only? ~ in the flesh
Unfortunately the next three lines of this verse were unreadable

Saturday 19 November 2011

Tobacconist of London

To the Memory of
Mr. William Brinkley
Late Citizen and Tobacconist
of London
who departed this life
November 13th 17~39 or 59 ?
Aged 6? Years
Also the body of Sarah Brinkley
the remaining words were hidden

Whilst visiting the Church of St. John the Baptist in Pinner, Middlesex, I discovered this old headstone and was pleased to see that it stated the owners occupation and citizenship ~ I just love these additional clues as to the identities of the occupants.
Sometimes it's easy to just skim the surface and simply take things at face value, to think no further than what we initially see ~ Simply another name and date.

But upon 'digging a little deeper' ~ a good term for graveyard detectives ! ~ I wanted to see what it would have been like to have been a Tobacconist in Georgian England.

Georgian Smokers

Tobacco Advert

Huron Indian myth has it that in ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she traveled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco . . .

A History of Tobacco
6000 BC ~ It is believed that the tobacco plant, as we know it today, began growing in The Americas.
1 BC ~ Indigenious American inhabitants begun smoking and chewing tobacco. Peruvian aboriginals used it as an hallucinogenic, inducing enema.
470 ~ 630 AD ~ Aztecs at the Court of Montezuma, smoked tobacco pipes pipes with great ceremony. Whilst lesser Indians, rolled tobacco leaves to form crude cigars. Complex Religious and Political rites developed around the smoking of tobacco.

Christopher Columbus

1492 ~ Christopher Columbus arrives in the New World for the first time. Columbus accepts  gifts from the indigenous natives, but the significance of the 'Pungent dried leaves' was not understood and they were simply thrown away.
Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, arrived in Cuba. They noted that the natives wrapped dried tobacco leaves 'In the manner of a musket formed of paper, which they lit, then commenced 'Drinking' the smoke through the other end'.
Jerez became the first European Smoker and brought the habit back to his hometown. The smoke billowing from his mouth and nose so frightened his neighbours, he was imprisoned by the holy inquisitors for 7 years. When he was released, smoking was a Spanish craze.

1556~61 ~ Tobacco is introduced into France and Portugal. Snuff is sent to Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother to Francis II's of France, to cure his migraine headaches. She decrees tobacco be termed Herba Regina.
1564~65 ~ Tobacco is introduced into England by Sir John Hawkins and his crew. Tobacco is used cheifly by sailors, including those employed by Sir Francis Drake. 
Spanish and Portuguese sailors spread the practice of smoking around the world, probably first to fellow sailors. There may have been a community of seafaring tobacco users in England for decades before officials noticed.

 1571~ In Germany, Dr. Michael Bernhard Valentini's 'Exotic Remedies' describes different types of enemas. The tobacco smoke enema was said to be good for the treatment of colic, nephritis, hysteria, hernia, and dysentery.
1573 ~ Sir Francis Drake returns to England from the Americas with 'Nicotina tobacum'.
1577 ~ European doctors looking for new cures, recommend tobacco for toothache, fingernail loss, worms, bad breath, lockjaw and cancer.

Elizabethan Physicians

1584 ~ 86 Queen Elizabeth grants Walter Raleigh a charter for establishing a settlement in America.
Sir Francis Drake introduces smoking to Sir Walter Raleigh
Ralph Lane, first governor of Virginia, teaches Sir Walter Raleigh to smoke the long-stemmed clay pipe Lane is credited with inventing.

Long Clay Pipe

1586 ~ In Germany 'De plantis epitome utilissima' issues cautions on the use of tobacco, calling it a 'Violent Herb'.
Tobacco Arrives in English Society. In July, some of the Virginia colonists returned to Plymouth, smoking tobacco from pipes, which caused a sensation. Tobacco in the Elizabethan age was known as 'Sotweed'.

Elizabeth I

1600 ~ Sir Walter Raleigh persuades Queen Elizabeth to try smoking.
1602 ~ In an English publication, an anonymous doctor states that 'Tobacco works by evaporating man's 'Unctuous and Radical Moistures' ~ as it is used to cure gonorrhea by drying up the discharge'.
This process, if continued, could only end by drying up 'Spermatical Humidity,' rendering him incapable of propagation.
Experience also showed that tobacco left men in a state of depression, 'Mopishness and Sottishness,' which with time, damages memory, imagination and understanding.
1603 ~ English Physicians are upset that tobacco is being used by people without a physician's prescription and complain to King James I.
1606 ~ Spanish King Philip III decrees that tobacco may only be grown in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Sale of tobacco to foreigners is punishable by death.

Philip III of Spain

1610 ~ Sir Francis Bacon writes that the use of tobacco, is a custom hard to quit. 
1613 ~ John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas grow the first commericial crop of 'tall tobacco' in Jamestown, Virginia and the first shipment of Rolfe's tobacco arrives in England. The Virginia colony enters the world tobacco market, under English protection.
1614 ~ King James I of England makes the import of tobacco a Royal monopoly, available for a yearly fee of £14,000. 'There be 7000 shops in and about London that doth vent Tobacco'

John Rolfe and Pocahontas

 1614 ~ King Philip III of Spain requires all tobacco grown in the Spanish New World, to be shipped to Seville in Spain. He establishes Seville as the world center for tobacco and the production of cigars. Cigarette use begins here, as beggars patch together tobacco from used cigars, and roll them in paper.
1610 ~ In England, the first tobacco vending machine is invented. The 'Honor Box' allows a user to deposit a penny to open a lidded small box, and scoop out a pipeful of tobacco.
1617 ~ Dr. William Vaughn writes about the perils of smoking:
Tobacco that outlandish weede
It spends the braine and spoiles the seede
It dulls the spirite, it dims the sight
It robs a woman of her right
1618 ~ Sir Walter Raleigh, popularizer of tobacco in England, is beheaded for treason. Upon Raleigh's tobacco box, found in his cell afterwards, is the inscription, 'Comes meus fuit illo miserrimo tempo' ~ 'It was my comfort in those miserable times.'

Sir Walter Raleigh

1619 ~ In Jamestown, Virginia, John Rolfe writes in his diary about the arrival of the first Africans. 'About the last of August came in a dutch man of warre that sold us twenty negars.' They were needed for the booming tobacco crop, but as they had been baptized as Christians, they could not be enslaved for life, but only indentured, like many of the English colonists, for 5-7 years.
Tobacco is being used as currency and continues to be used so, for 200 years in Virginia, and 150 years in Maryland.
The first shipment of women arrive in Jamestown, they are to become wives for the settlers. A prospective husband must pay for his chosen wife's passage with 120 lbs. of tobacco.

1624 ~ Pope Urban VIII threatens excommunication for snuff users, sneezing is thought too close to sexual ecstasy.

Pope Urban VIII

1624 ~ New York City is born with the town of New Amsterdam being established on lower Manhattan. Greenwich Village was a Native Amercian Indian village known as Sapponckanican ~ 'Tobacco Fields', or 'Land where the Tobacco grows'. The Dutch continued the tradition in the 17th century and tobacco farms lined both sides of what is now Christopher Street.
1628 ~ In Persia Shah Sefi punishes two merchants for selling tobacco by pouring hot lead down their throats.
1630 ~ Sweden learns to smoke.
1632 ~ Massachusetts forbids public smoking.
1633 ~ In Turkey, Sultan Murad IV orders tobacco users executed as infidels. As many as 18 a day were executed. It was rescinded 10 years later by Murad's successor.

Sultan Murad IV

1634 ~ Russian Czar Alexis creates penalties for smoking ~ 1st offense is whipping, a slit nose, and transportation to Siberia. 2nd offense is execution.

Czar Alexis

1638 ~ In  China the use or distribution of tobacco is made a crime punishable by decapitation. The  Jesuits introduced Snuff into China by the mid-17th century, it became popular and continued to be so through much of the Qing dynasty ~ mid-17th century to 1912.
1643 ~ In Russia, Tsar Michael declared smoking as a deadly sin.  Smokers were arrested and flogged or have their lips slit. A visitor commented that, 'Those convicted of taking snuff, both men and women, can expect to have their noses taken away.'

1647 ~ The Colony of Connecticut bans public smoking, however its citizens may smoke only once a day, 'And then not in company with any other.' In 1650 the colony states, 'No smoking by person under age of 21, no smoking except with physicians order'.
1665 ~ 66 In Europe, Smoking Tobacco is thought to have a protective effect against the Great Plague. Smoking is made compulsory at Eton to ward off infection.
1674 ~ In Russia, smoking can now carry the Death Penalty.
1675 ~ In Switzerland, the town council of Berne applies the same dire penalties to smokers as it does with adulterers.
1676 ~ Russia lifts it's smoking ban.
1700 ~ In England, King George III's wife known as 'Snuffy Charlotte' and in France, Napoleon said to have used 7 lb. of snuff per month.  


1705 ~ In Virginia, assembly passes a law legalizing lifelong slavery. It states that ' All servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not christians in their native country, shall be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to christianity afterwards'.
1761 ~ In England, the Physician John Hill 'Cautions against the Immoderate Use of Snuff'. It is perhaps the first clinical study of tobacco effects and Hill warns snuff users they are vulnerable to cancers of the nose.
1769 ~ Captain James Cook arrives in Tahiti, smoking a pipe. He is thought to be a demon and the natives dowse him with water.

Captain James Cook

1776 ~ In America, along the 'Tobacco Coast' ~ the Chesapeake,~ the Revolutionary War began. Tobacco growers found themselves perpetually in debt to British merchants and owed the mercantile houses millions of pounds. Tobacco helped finance the Revolution. George Washington appealed to his countrymen for aid 'If you can't send money, send tobacco'. When the war was over, tobacco taxes to help repay the revolutionary war debt.

George Washington

1779: Pope Benedict XII opens a tobacco factory

Vintage British Cigarette Advert

This cigarette advert was a popular one when I was a child and now I know why a Sailor was used in the promotion of sales of them.

Many thanks to Gene Borio at www.tobacco.org for the information used in A History of Tobacco.

Friday 18 November 2011

Friday's Funerary Symbols ~ Swifts

These are the first Swifts I have ever seen to be pictured on a tombstone and I think they are so beautiful, that you could almost forget the sense of loss they depict.
The symbol of the Swift denotes the fleeting passage of time that their brief summer visits herald. When portrayed as a flock of swifts, these migratory birds remind us of the departure that comes before a journey toward a better place. 

Sacred to the Memory of
James Childs
Died April 5 1880 Age 60 Years
also James, Grandson
Died Dec 25 1886 Age 7 Mths
also Sarah, his wife
Died March16 1897 Age 76 Years
also Elizabeth, Granddaughter
 ? Age 9 Years 

There is also another Grandson who died May 22 and another Elizabeth, who died in January that is mentioned as well. Unfortunately I was unable to get any closer due to overgrown brambles in that area and so this was the best I could capture from a distance.

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