Thursday, May 07, 2009

Eroded gravestone

click photo to enlarge
Before you read on - if you were intending to do so - try and make out what this gravestone once said. My attempt at deciphering it is at the end of the post.

It occurred to me a few years ago that the job of a vicar or priest has much to commend it sartorially speaking. When you get up in the morning you don't have to agonise over what to wear, whether this colour goes with that, or if your clothes will be suitable for the events that the day will bring. Out come the same grey, black and white garments, on they go, and you're ready. Whether you're meeting the Queen, conducting a service, or have your sleeves rolled up in the soup kitchen you have the satisfaction of knowing that your dress is appropriate.

I've sometimes wondered whether the job of monumental mason has similar advantages. However, I suppose you have to keep abreast of fashions in gravestones, and fashion isn't something that sits easily with (or on) me. Also, you share the major disadvantage that doctors and the police have - you're usually meeting people when they're at their worst or they have a problem. In the case of a monumental mason the price and style of the memorial stone, and the wording of the inscription must sometimes be bones of contention between relatives, and I imagine that the poor old mason sometimes plays the role of referee in such disputes.

The other day I came across another pitfall in that line of work. You buy your stone, engrave it, sell it, it's placed over the grave, and a few years later it starts to break up - you've been sold a pup! Relatives start beating on your door demanding a replacement, and you're on the phone to the supplier who probably isn't interested. Of course, if the decay sets in after a hundred years probably no one is interested, least of all the mason who is somewhere below one of his own pieces of handiwork! I was thinking about this as I surveyed this eroded gravestone in the churchyard at Toynton St Peter, Lincolnshire. I've seen gravestones from the early 1700s that are as sharp and legible as the day they were cut. But this sorry specimen seems to have been made from a very unsuitable piece of stone and is almost illegible after - well, after how many years?

Today's challenge is to try and decipher the lettering.

Here's my attempt based on a lot of reading of gravestones :
Line 1 ******* REMEMBRANCE
Line 2 OF
Line 5 APRIL 25TH 1898
Line 6 AGED 82 YEARS
Line 7 *************************

For how much longer, I wonder, will William Robinson be remembered through this gravestone? Here is a gravestone that is about one hundred years older than the one above that wears its age much better.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm (34mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On