Category: Cemetery

Visiting the Bard: Stratford-upon-Avon (1)

Awhile ago I saw a bus in Evesham with a Shakespearean quote…

I filed that information away for later use. 

Later use finally arrived this week and I decided to follow Romeo and head to Stratford-upon-Avon from Evesham. The bus is an X18 and the route it follows is: Norton, Harvington, Iron Cross, Salford Priors, Bidford-on-Avon, Binton and finally Stratford-upon-Avon with a frequency of one every 30 minutes. It was do-able and I did the navigation and packed my goodies and hit the road really early on what was a glorious weekend of summer weather.  My map said that there were a few things worth seeing, although I would really aim for Shakespeare’s birthplace, the War Memorial and finally his grave. Anything else is incidental. 

The trip was interesting because the route passed close Evesham Country Park where the Evesham Light Rail is; and that is also on my list of places to see. The villages seemed interesting, especially Bidford and I may do a morning trip out there as they have a very nice War Memorial which I managed to snap from the bus.

I was not too sure about where the bus stopped in Stratford although the timetable showed me a square with “Shakespeare’s Birthplace” on it, as well as a “Jester’s Statue”. However, our bus stopped very close to something called “The American Fountain” (aka the Shakespeare Memorial Fountain (which was slap-bang on the edge of the morning market) and a clear shot was not going to happen. The fountain was a gift of the American newspaper publisher and philanthropist George Childs, and was intended as a tribute to Queen Victoria, whose Golden Jubilee was being celebrated, to Shakespeare, and to the relationship between the USA and England.

There are a lot of inscriptions on the fountain, but the primary one reads:

THE GIFT OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN

GEORGE W. CHILDS. OF PHILADELPHIA

TO THE TOWN OF SHAKESPEARE, 

IN THE JUBILEE YEAR OF QUEEN VICTORIA’

It is a grade II* listed structure and it was unveiled on 17 October 1887. More information on the tower is available on the Historic England listing.

The town looks more or less like this:

(1024 x 1054) (Image from an information board)

Now where was this Jester? I followed a sign that supposedly led to “Shakespeare’s Birthplace” and that led me to a pedestrianised street that had an old house almost in the centre. I could not find any signage or information board on the house so can’t assume anything yet. However, looking at the map above it appears that I should have gone around the back of the house. Now that’s kind of illogical. The position of the sun and constant foot traffic made getting a proper front view almost impossible so I settled for the next best thing. The house is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated in Henley Street, and it is believed that William Shakespeare was born there in 1564 and spent his childhood years there.

The Jester Statue was close by too.

It portrays the Jester ‘Touchstone’ from the play ‘As you like it.’ The inscription reads:

“The fool doth think he is wise but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

and another reads:

 “O’ noble fool, a worthy fool”.

The statue, is by James Butler MBE of Radway, and is a gift to the town by one of its local businessmen, Mr. Anthony P Bird OBE. It unveiled in 1994.

So far so good, what else was in the vicinity? I looked around the shops and there was a Peter Rabbit, Harry Potter and a Teddy Bear shop interspersed with the usual gimmicky souvenir and coffee shops. It did not inspire confidence I am afraid. 

The timber frame buildings were beauties though, but some may have been modern reproductions too.  After a quick loo break I found myself close to the waterfront and canal basin which was more or less where I wanted to be. It was quite a pretty area with lots of boats and swans and a lock gate and a memorial that I wanted to investigate. I decided to snack and have a look around while I was in the area.

The memorial I wanted to see is known as the Gower Memorial or Gower Monument, and it comprises a round pedestal on a square plinth with a figure of Shakespeare deep in thought and seated in casual pose,  holding a pen and scroll.

There are four detached small plinths to the corners, each with a bronze figure of a Shakespearean character.

Falstaff

Lady Macbeth

Hamlet

Prince Hal

The monument was constructed in Paris over a 12 year period between 1876-1888 by Lord Ronald Gower and various associates and craftsman. It was unveiled at a ceremony attended by Oscar Wilde on 10 October 1888, at its original location in gardens to south of the Memorial Theatre. The monument was moved to its current location in 1933 following the rebuilding of the theatre after the devastating fire of 1926.  It is a Grade II* listed structure. (Text from Historical England entry)

I have to admit this was a very impressive memorial, and it was really worth seeing. The Google street view does not show the monument as it is hidden behind two vehicles which made it very intriguing.  I recrossed the bridge over the canal which a narrow boat was busy transiting. The canal connected to this is the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. 

I consulted another map that would show me my next destination which was the grave of Shakespeare. I had marked off the location of the War Memorial too, but completely forgot about it at this point. It was not too far away and no long detour would be needed to get there. I could cut across an area known as Bancroft Gardens and grab any interesting images along the way. The small monument below was erected to commemorate 50 years of peace between the nations of Western Europe 1945-1995.

Young Will by Lawrence Holofcener, Sculptor

The Country Artists Fountain was made for the 800th anniversary celebration of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and is made of stainless steel and brass. It was unveiled by the Queen in 1996.

In the near distance was a large building which is the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre. Unfortunately the former did not photograph well but I did get a great photo of the latter.

The street I was now in was called Southern Lane and  it ran into Old Town Street. The Remembrance Gardens are situated where the two streets intersect, The memorial was not my primary goal on this day though, but it was nice to find it so close to my final goal.

There are at least 4 separate memorials in the garden and I will dealt with them in my blogpost at allatsea,  suffice to say the garden is well kept and pleasant to visit.

William Shakespeare is buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the church has coachloads of visitors coming to see the final resting place of the Bard.  It is an old church with an extensive churchyard and I was not the only person there on this day.

The church exterior is difficult to photograph as it is quite large but well treed and the sun is behind it making a decent image a non event. Inside it was quite impressive, but there was a large crowd inside the Chancel where the grave is. I decided to wait for things to quieten down and then try my luck.

The handout gives the following information: The present building dates from 1210, with the oldest sections being the tower, transepts and nave pillars. The North and South Aisles were added in the 1300’s and the Chancel in the late 1400’s.  William Shakespeare was baptised here, he worshipped here and he is buried here.

The Clopton Chapel is very impressive and it contains the tomb of Joyce Clopton and her husband George Carew, Earl of Totnes (d 1629). There are also effigies of William and Anne Clopton. 

And then things had quietened down and I was able to get into the Chancel to see the grave.

There are 5 graves beyond the railing and the first two on the left are of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare (1556-1623) and next to her is the grave of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).  The other graves are of his daughter Suzanna, son-in-law Dr John Hall and Thomas Nash, his grandson-in-law. 

The inscription on his grave reads:

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

There is a bust of the Bard close to the grave that was commissioned In 1621 by Shakespeare’s son-in-law, and it was made by Gerard Jansen, and it is considered to be a good likeness of him. 

The inscription reads: 

Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem
Terra tegit, populus moeret, Olympus habet.

Stay, passenger, why goest thou by so fast?
Read, if thou canst, whom envious death hath placed
Within this monument: Shakespeare, with whom
Quick nature doed; whose name doth deck his tomb
Far more than cost; sith all that he had writ
Leaves living art but page to serve his wit.
Obiit ano doi [anno domini] 1616. Aetatis 53. Die 23 Ap.

In 2016 a non-intrusive GPR survey also revealed that the Shakespeare family members were not buried in a large family vault but in shallow graves beneath the church floor.  William Shakespeare’s and Anne Hathaway’s graves are less than a metre deep. The findings also suggest Shakespeare and his family were not buried in coffins but simply wrapped in winding sheets, or shrouds, and buried in soil. It also revealed that the skull of William Shakespeare was missing. 

It was almost time for me to go, I took some photo’s and made my way back to the nave and looked for the church War Memorial while another large coach party was filling the space I had just vacated.

The church is very beautiful and there was a lot to photograph but I am running out of space in this post. Unfortunately I regret being unable to get a proper full image of the church but that may be possible from across the river (makes note for next time).  I will however leave some random images and will continue overleafforwardbut

 

Random Images of the Church 

DRW © 2019. Created 14/09/2019

Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:22

Holywell Cemetery

Holywell Cemetery is the first cemetery that I visited in Oxford and is one of two that are within what I call “walking distance” of the town centre. There was no real compelling reason to visit it either, but from a curiosity standpoint it was certainly a drawcard. It is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates 51.755681°,  -1.247123° and entrance is through a gate set back from St Cross Road.

There is not a lot to say about it though, so this post is really more of a photo essay than a long winded exploration of the place. The pics speak for themselves. 

It really is a jungle in there and it is done deliberately to encourage small wild and bird life in it. I am always in two minds about leaving a cemetery wild like this, but there is a certain beauty about it that is breathtaking. There is a small information board in the cemetery, although there we no leaflets available. I have split off the key and map from the board so as to see them easier. 

The only name that I recognise is that of James Blish, a Science Fiction author. I did not hunt down the grave though, the cemetery is way too overgrown to find anything in. 

The Friends of Holywell Cemetery was founded in 1987 to raise funds for the maintenance of the cemetery on land that was gifted by Merton College in 1847. The lodge was erected in 1850 and to be honest I really thought the building was derelict but there is somebody living in it. It is however very hemmed in by foliage and getting a complete image of it was almost impossible.

University dons dominate the burials here , and  last count there were 160 of them, including 32 Heads of Houses, but there is no barrier here between town and gown. Shopkeepers and tradespeople abound, with names which will be recognised by many Oxonians. 

I am not sure whether it is still in use, or when the last burial did take place but there were a quite a few newish headstones to be seen. Unfortunately some were buried amongst the undergrowth so I could not really investigate them too closely.

Next to the cemetery is is the St Cross church and it has quite a nice churchyard too. What is interesting about it is how high the churchyard is compared to the actual church building, indicating that the churchyard is very full. I did not photograph the church though, as it was in a very awkward  position.

The churchyard is not as overgrown as the cemetery, although that could be because it is situated on the street whereas the cemetery is not street facing. Which came first? I think the churchyard was here long before the cemetery.  

That more or less sums up Holywell. I did not spend too much time there but enjoyed it immensely. Its not too often that you encounter a beaut like this one, and without the mad rush of looking for specific graves it is easy to just enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this small haven away from the frenetic rush of the city.

Random Images

DRW © 2019. Created 01/07/20101

Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:24

Commemorating Annie Munro

Being involved with photographing war graves you often find that you are drawn to some graves, or individuals, or you feel that you need to remind the world of a life that was cut short by the tragedy of war. One such grave is that of a young nurse called Annie Winifred Munro.

I do not recall how I got involved with this particular grave, all I know is that I felt that a plan really needed to be made to commemorate her loss, and some investigating was done. She is buried in the Glasgow Western Metropolis and her casualty details may be found on the corresponding CWGC page. Glasgow is far from my usual stomping grounds, and while we knew that there was a headstone we had no photograph of it. I decided to ask around and by luck one of the members of the South African Branch of the Royal British Legion was able to go to the cemetery and photograph the grave for us. It was winter, and snow lay on the ground. 

Annie was no longer forgotten, her record at the South African War Graves Project was just that much more complete now that the grave was photographed. Incidentally her headstone was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and “was erected to her memory by the South African Comforts Committee, under the personal direction of the Viscountess Gladstone”. 

But why was Annie buried here in the first place? It is difficult to understand so many years after the fact, but the information that exists is as follows: “… on arriving in England she was sent to France, where she contracted pneumonia which obliged her to return to England. After having partly recovered from the effects of pneumonia, she desired to visit Scotland, the home of her father, but was unable to travel farther North than Glasgow. There she was taken under the care of those who had known her father; and although she received all the attention that medical skill could give her, complications set in which it was impossible to combat. She died on 6th April, 1917, at the age of 25 years, and was buried with Military Honours in the Western Necropolis, Glasgow.”

Annie had previously served in the German South West African Campaign, transferring to the hospital ship “Ebani” on 26/11/1915.

Record card for Staff Nurse Annie Munro

She is also recorded as serving in Gallipoli and eventually was sent to France where she contracted pneumonia. She was shipped back to England to recover, but after having partly recovered she desired to visit Scotland, the home of her father. 

She is noted as having died from “Phthisis” (pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive wasting disease) on the 6th of April 1917, although her record card shows her as being “very ill, progress unsatisfactory” on 07/04/1917. It is very likely that the date is incorrect as death is accepted as having occurred on 06/04/1917.

What drove Annie to visit the home of her father? was she invited over? was there some other underlying reason? She was a qualified sister and was probably well aware of how ill she had been and that there were risks attached to her travelling so far from where she was staying.  Sadly she died in Scotland and in time would eventually become just another name on a headstone in a cemetery.  Renewed interest in the First World War saw more and more people researching those who fought or died in that terrible war and there was a reappraisal of the role of women and nurses in the global conflict that touched everywhere on the globe. In 2012 Our own War Graves Project was already busy with the record card project that would reveal more details about  the almost forgotten part that South African Forces played in the war. Annie is amongst those many names on the Roll of Honour.

She was visited by Louise Prentice Carter in July 2018 who laid flowers on her grave and paid her respects to this nurse so far from Pietermaritzburg where she was born.

William and Ellen Munro lost not only their daughter in 1917, they also lost a son in the war;  Sergeant  William Alexander Munro was killed at Delville Wood on 15/07/1916.

Many people have contributed to this page, although I did rely on our South African War Graves Project for most of the information. Special thanks to Louise and the Legionnaire who photographed the grave for me in 2015. There is not a lot of information to add to this story though, and the one source I did find that is new to me is from The Evening Times of 13 May 2014.  

DRW © 2019. Created 12/04/2019

Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:26
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