There’s nothing better (in mine & Sophie’s opinions) than wandering around cemeteries reading and photographing old graves and monuments. For us it is history with a personal view, the lives (and mostly deaths!) of real people and sometimes their families, chiselled into headstones. Names, ages, dates and symbols to be pondered on, sometimes researched (googled 🙂 ) and kept for posterity in digital files, while they crumble away in the graveyards over the years.
We decided a few weekends ago to visit a couple of cemeteries in Sunderland, firstly Grangetown cemetery. Although we have been there before, we like to go in spring as it has rows of pink-blossom trees through it and we were on our annual blossom-tree hunt! Unfortunately the blossom had yet to bloom so we didn’t spend long there. They also have an Angel of Grief so I shot that instead.
The Angel of Grief is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story for the grave of his wife Emelyn Story and the original can be found at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. Its full title bestowed by Mr.Story was The Angel of Grief Weeping Over the Dismantled Altar of Life, a bit of a mouthful, but I think he was probably feeling depressed. He never sculpted again after his Mrs’s death, except for this monument to her. He is quoted as saying “It represents the angel of Grief, in utter abandonment, throwing herself with drooping wings and hidden face over a funeral altar. It represents what I feel. It represents Prostration. Yet to do it helps me.” Better than Prozac then.
The statue has been replicated in many cemeteries across the world, there is even a Flickr group dedicated to them you can visit HERE and the image has also been used in popular culture, such as in an album cover for the band Nightwish’s album Once (2004) and in the 2012 film The Woman in Black.
The one in Sunderland is dedicated to William Frederick Larkin by his wife Carrie.
The angel’s left arm has been broken off midway up the forarm sadly, which is a great shame, so I photographed her so it didn’t show. I mean, what lady wants her bad bits in photo’s, even if she’s distraught?
I am not sure if they are related but there is also a lovely memorial to a Major Larkin in this cemetary, but I haven’t yet found anything out about him.
We then went to visit Mere Knowles Cemetery as this was a new one to us. It was opened in July 1856 due to older cemetaries becoming overcrowded and a health hazard as a result of the cholera epidemic that swept through Sunderland in the 1830’s.
There isn’t a carpark (that we could find) at the cemetery so we parked in Morrisons supermarket car park where Sophie became enamoured of some trees wrapped in green netting, not sure what they’re being protected from!
We walked up to the cemetery through the back way alongside a little stream.
Along the path laid part of a sad little headstone
but plenty of cheery flowers in the grounds
The first burial at Mere Knolls cemetery was mariner’s daughter Mary Ann Wood, 19, who was laid to rest at the site on July 4, 1856. There are quite a lot of memorials and one of my favourites, (mosaics being a hobby of mine) was this unusual cross
Not sure who Barbara was a good and faithful servant to, probably her husband, different times folks, different times!
There’s are too chapels in the grounds, both very similar so will just show the one
though neither are in use. In part two we’ll have a look at them in detail as they have some wonderful stone- carved heads to see.
That’s all for now folks, stay tooned for part 2!