Stones With History


I love to walk through cemeteries.  I know that might be a little odd but there is just something so intriguing to me about seeing old stones with weathered writing, leaning or fallen down, upright, adorned with flags or flowers or little mementos.  They tell a story in their own way so I never turn down the opportunity to stop and take one in on our travels.

On our recent trip to Bermuda we toured St. Peter’s Church (you can read my post here) and the Unfinished Church (you can read that post here).  Both were beautiful examples of architecture and craftsmanship and the bonus for me was that St. Peter’s Church had a lovely graveyard on its grounds.

The interesting thing is that there are two separate graveyards in the grounds of the church. There is a walled area to the west of the church that was for black slaves, whereas the white parishioners were buried on the east side. Many burials date back over three centuries. Important interments here include Sir Richard Sharples, the 1973 Governor of Bermuda who was assassinated while walking a dog on the grounds of Government House, along with his aide, Capt. Hugh Sayers; American Midshipman Richard Dale who was the last victim of the war of 1912; and Anne Willing Bingham who was supposed to have been the model for the famous Draped Bust portrait on the obverse of the American silver dollars created by Gilbert Stuart, but there were also soldiers who died of yellow fever and many generations of gentry and commoners, governors and slaves, privateers and statesmen.

It was a pretty amazing place to tour after our church tour and I took a few pictures.  Click on any picture in the mosaic to enlarge and initiate a slide show.  How about you?  Do you like to stroll around cemeteries like me or do they make you nervous?

Comments

  1. The cemetery where most of my ancestors are buried is such a special place to me. It’s only about 15 minutes from where I live, and although I don’t go there often, I would never want to live so far away that I couldn’t go there on a whim. Some of those stones date back to the 1600′s, and some are probably even older, but the inscriptions are either worn off or perhaps were never there!

  2. Miranda Gargasz says:

    Admittedly, I am just like you: fascinated by cemeteries. They reflect the best in us as humans, I think, because we share that one thing in common. We’ve all experienced death and we’re all headed in that direction. We all can empathize with the loss.

  3. I like to, as well. They can tell many stories.

  4. I enjoy strolling around old cemetaries. We have so many small interesting cemetaries in our rural area. They don’t make me nervous, I find comfort in them. Maybe sometimes a little sad for people and children that went too early. Most of the stones are beautiful.

  5. I also love old graveyards, the older the better. I can spend hours wandering through them and reading the headstones. This one in Bermuda is fascinating and you captured it well in your photographs.

    • Thanks, Darlene. I love the fact that these are places everywhere that you can take a leisurely stroll through and imagine the stories that go with the people that are remembered there.

  6. I’m with you on cemeteries. I appreciate them for this history and art. I didn’t like cemeteries as a child. Not at all. But now I often seek them out.

    I especially like that heavy wooden door with the knocker that you photographed.

    • That door on the church was probably one of my favorite pictures from that trip. It will show up in later posts, I am sure, because it is just so perfect in composition and strength. Love it!

  7. kap2406 says:

    One of the things I like about living in Boston is how history is woven into the fabric of the city. You can be walking in the middle of downtown and come across cemeteries dating to the 1600s where Paul Revere and John Hancock and other famous historic figures are buried. It’s humbling to think about what life was like back then, not just for those famous people but for everyone. Which is to say, yes, I also find cemeteries and thinking about the stories behind them somewhat fascinating.

    • Oh I know that Boston is a perfect example of the old meshing with the new and current and I love that about cities like that. It is amazing to me how some of the oldest things are still standing and showing us our history. Wonderful! Hope you are well!

  8. Love old cemeteries. Coming from Mass. there are quite a few around here. Though I haven’t been to any lately, I do find them fascinating. I have a question about one of your photos, the picture that shows the headstone of Anne Willing. Are the tools of the Masons (the square and the compass) surrounding her name? Is her name in the compass and above it, is that the square? The Masons were an integral part of society back then. Perhaps one of your readers or associates will bear this out.. Or not.. Just curious.

    • I can’t really determine if that is what they are or not. I have blown it up and I am not sure if it is. It seems strange that that would be the case to me but maybe it is. Let’s see if anyone else has any ideas on it.

  9. I really like cemeteries. They are so peaceful and they tell so many stories with their tombstones. I’m with you, Beth Ann!

  10. I love walking through graveyards too. There’s such a powerful history that goes with them. How sad that even in death slaves were segregated.

  11. We like exploring old cemeteries too. I try to fit the stories and families together.

  12. I do like to tour through them. I think it’s a good reminder for all of us that life is short and precious. And I think it’s kind of nice for some of the older graves – who may not have anyone to remember them – that someone comes by and pays respect. The old grave stones can be very beautiful too, and they each tell their own story.
    My old brownie camp used to be beside a cemetery and we would often sneak out at night from our cabins and go sit in the cemetery to tell ghost stories. We were always very respectful of the place – but we would look at the names and try to imagine what life was life for that person. how they died, etc. I think it’s nice that someone is still thinking about their life.

  13. I am not one to just walk in cemeteries unless I am looking for some of my realtives. I love to walk arournd beautiful parks with flowers.

  14. I, too, love strolling around old cemeteries, and I did a post about it not too long ago (or, it seems like it wasn’t all that long ago, but who knows??). Anyway, I think cemeteries are quite peaceful, though I wouldn’t want to be walking alone in one after dark!

  15. I do not mind cemeteries at all. I would never write a post about this–just haven’t figure out how to–but, after my dad died I visited the cemetery Christmas, his birthday and Easter and probably more than that. My daughter, would remember and say “It’s time to visit grandpa.” It puts a lump in my throat. But, I’m so glad she enjoyed it, too.
    My mother-in-law took us to her family cemetery. It wasn’t just a visit but also, a maintenance call. Her family cemetery is not perpetual care, so we actually righted stones and leveled some areas. The upheaval of the land was a revelation to me.

    • I am sure it puts a lump in your throat. Even if our faith tells us that our souls are no longer there it is a touchstone and a place where we can truly honor those who we love. I love that your daughter would see it as a positive time to “visit grandpa”.

  16. I thought I was the only one who loves old grave yards, I have walked through many looking at the names and ages of the deceased, The old headstones intrigue me, I often find myself dusting them off or clearing the overgrown weeds away. My husband is also into genealogy so we make a great team. I loved looking at your photo’s and was just a bit jealous of you. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you liked the post. It is funny how we happen upon these places and they just draw me in. Actually I used to study in the cemetery occasionally in our college town. :-) Nobody bothered me.

  17. You’re are so not alone in your love of cemeteries. As a child, while our family visited our grandmother’s grave, I would always stroll through looking at the old tombstones and plague both parents with lots of questions! Now, both hubby and I like to occasionally walk through our small town cemetery, which has graves dating back into 1700-1800′s. Get’s one to thinking what their lives might have been like during that time.

    • I am finding there are a lot of us who find different things like cemeteries interesting. i just enjoy looking gat the names and dates and wondering what their stories are.

  18. I think I’ve shared with you before that I used to work in the Obituary Dept. of a major Canadian newspaper & I loved my job. Probably for all the same reasons you love visiting cemeteries. I love reading what people who are left behind think is important to write about their dearly departed. I love reading other people’s histories.

    • I had forgotten that tidbit about you but I do remember you sharing that. We all have stories to tell and some of these stones tell them, don’t they?

  19. It’s not something I do often, but we made a point to visit and read when in Savannah.

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