This April we are once again blogging along with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our team of one-place studiers will be sharing some of the treasures to be found for a one-place study, particularly around the theme of Visualisation, our Shared Endeavour for 2016.

Every community has them, don't they? Well, erm... actually, no! Some place studiers focus their studies on the gravestones and cemeteries whereas others, don’t even have them. In my places – Tetcott and Luffincott (Devon, England) – there are gravestones. In Luffincott, not very many and some of the stones have been laid flat to provide flooring in the church (an enormous bugbear of mine).

Luffincott Church is, in fact, no longer used as a place of worship and is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. There are less than thirty gravestones which remain standing in the cemetery and I have taken the time to document each one, before the weather affects them any more than it already has. My two places are remote and the effects of weather are all too evident when I compare gravestone photographs taken several years ago with those taken more recently.

G for GravesGravestones tell stories. They give information about relationships and the residency of individuals within (and outside) the community. Often, other details are recorded on the stones, i.e. Rector of this parish, an occupation or place of death if they did not die in the place they were buried.

However, a gravestone may not be erected to mark the resting place of an individual. The family may not have been in a position to pay for a memorial. This is true of my own great-grandparent's resting place only located by referring to the burial book held at the cemetery.

At the other end of the scale, a memorial may not be evident in the churchyard but a more affluent member of the community (or family within the locale) may have been commemorated inside the church and buried in a vault. This is certainly true in Tetcott where the Arscott family (who owned Tetcott estate) are not referred to at all on gravestones outside the church but the memorials inside are many and various, to highlight their wealth and standing within the village.

Have you wandered around the churchyard/s of your place? Have the gravestones been catalogued (either by you or someone else)? It might be worth considering this as a 'one place task for 2016' before it is too late and the gravestones become illegible... Food for thought...

Kirsty Gray

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