I love a good graveyard. So stumbling upon this one rescued a walk-gone-wrong nicely. Also, as I wrote this, I discovered that July 21st marks the beginning of Church Tourism Week. So maybe it was meant to be. Anyway…

The aim of the day wasn’t graveyard discovery, although I’m always up for a bit of that. Plan A was a visit to Highclere castle, better known to some as Downton Abbey. Covid closures meant that wasn’t happening. Plan B involved a country walk that would take us to admire Highclere from afar, but parking in the wrong place and getting a bit lost meant that wasn’t happening either.

Things Helen Loves, image of woodland

So, just walking. Highclere is set in stunning parkland in a beautiful part of the world, and much of it is open to the public all the time. Even Covid can’t cancel the countryside. So we accepted that the days plan had unplanned and settled for a there-and-back-again walk. No hardship. Like I said, its a beautiful part of the world.

After a very nice walk through fields and woodland, I was just about ready to turn back when the husband followed a footpath through some trees and said, ” There’s a graveyard through here for you”. For me. He knows me so well.

Things Helen Loves, image of Highclere Chapel

‘My’ graveyard turned out to be the Highclere Victorian Cemetery and chapel. I might have known that there’d be a Victorian influence. That was the era that turned grief into an art form, after all. The Chapel was built by the 3rd Countess of Carnarvon as a place of comfort to those who grieve and a service is still held there once a year. Not sure that will be the case this year.

Things Helen Loves, donation box on Chapel doorl

The Chapel itself was closed, but I sneaked a peek through the window on the door and  can confirm that the interior is beautiful. And surprisingly cosy, as chapels go. There’s a glimpse inside on the Highclere Castle instagram account.

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A flash of colour on the doors in the form of these coats of arms caught my eye, as did the intricate carving on the stone and pillars around the door. There’s been a vast amount of care and craftsmanship put into the creation of it all. I think it really was a gift from the heart of Highclere.

Things Helen Loves, image of Highclere chapel door

The cemetery itself tumbles down the hillside from the chapel. It’s a beauty. There was something about these monuments or markers…I’m not entirely sure what it is, or really what they are. I have seen similar in an old churchyard closer to home. Answers on a postcard. Perhaps they are just gravestones of a sort?

Things Helen Loves, line of unusual gravestones

Thee thing that I find intriguing in any graveyard is how many different ways there are to pay tribute to those who are buried there. This one being no exception, from small stones to elaborate statues and traditional tombs. Things Helen Loves, image of old tomb with ivy

Even a single war grave. Being married to a soldier, this one struck a chord with me. I’ll bring a poppy to leave with him when we are back up this way. Lest We Forget.

Things Helen Loves, image of e

Set in its own little square amongst the graves, we stumbled upon a sun dial. Looked a relatively modern addition, so I’m not sure if it was set there as a time piece or just a monument. Maybe it’s symbolic, some sort of message about the passage of time or something. Maybe I’m totally overthinking it. Who knows.

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What was nice though, was that the kids were interested in it. In the age of digital time keeping, clocks on phones and statement watches I love the idea that a historic time piece is still fascinating to them. But doesn’t that make me sound old?

A large stone caught my eye. It marked the final resting place of Anne. She passed in 1851 aged 77 years and the tribute read , ‘ Twenty Six Years House Keeper To The Earl of Carnarvon’. Had me bristling a bit, a woman deserves to be remembered for more than her role as housekeeper. And her employers title before her own given name… I won’t start, I guess it’s just how it was back then.

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Not far away a far more elaborate grave, that of ‘Evelyn Georgina Katherine, wife of Henry Fourth Earl of Carnarvon’. Remembered for her role in life in relation to her husband, but at least she got her name on there. Before his. These two women were probably worlds apart in life, but laid close together in death. Different social positions but probably a lot of limitations in common. It got me thinking, anyway!

Things Helen L

It also got me thinking about what would be said about me when I’m gone. Probably something like  curious overthinker who couldn’t keep her mouth shut.  Never knowingly under-packed or passed a good graveyard.  And I’ll take that.

If you liked this one, you might also like Tombstone Tourism @ Glasgow Necropolis

Helen x

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts

  1. What an intriguing graveyard Helen. A few months ago we stayed overnight at the cosy village pub, The Pheasant which was beautiful and I’d recommend popping in if you haven’t already as dogs are warmly welcomed. We also tried to get a glimpse of Highclere Castle by following a muddy track but as we were only wearing shoes we had to turn back as the path deteriorated. We never found the cemetery though, so well done you!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Yes! I remember reading your post about the Pheasant when I was still in Edinburgh, but knew I was headed South. We tried to drop in but it was closed, sadly. I believe they have reopened though so, next time.

      1. Yes, something to look forward to! Have you explored Newbury yet? I love a wander around the shops and by the canal there. Really sad that their branch of John Lewis is not re-opening though.

      2. ThingsHelenLoves says:

        Not yet but I’m sure I’ll get to it. I think a lot of stores are going to go the same way, sadly. Hopefully there’ll be some sort of plan to help out the town centres over the next few years.

  2. We always point that out on our Necropolis tours: women are so often merely a foot note – “wife of” and “daughter of” – that it’s hard to find out their stories. I love a good graveyard too, nothing odd about it!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s a shame… and an irritation! Oh I’d love to get back up to Glasgow for a guided tour of the Necropolis. I gave it almost a full day but totally underestimated the scale of the place.

  3. We love an interesting cemetery, always a lot to see and gives you tons to think and chat about. Some people think it’s a bit weird but we find them fascinating.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I think it’s a bit of a marmite issue, I find them fascinating. Full of stories.

  4. This is what someone told me few years back. One should write his own obituary. How do we want the world to remember us after we depart.that gives us the direction in the life

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      That is such a though provoking idea! I do find it slightly strange that an obituary is supposed to be a tribute to one but can only be written from the perspective of others. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, appreciate it!

  5. I love wandering through old graveyards. There is something about them and the grave markers. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      They are endlessly fascinating, aren’t they? Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment, always much appreciated!

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