The Memento Mori Graves of Barthomley

by Charles E S Fairey & Michael ‘Jarl’ Oakes, February 2018
(Artwork by Michael ‘Jarl’ Oakes)
Grave Locations Direction: Churchyard: From South of Tower to East of Chancel.

At St Bertoline's Church in the picturesque South Cheshire village of Barthomley, there are a number of Memento Mori graves. Memento Mori is imagery or text which reminds us all, that we shall die, so prepare for Death, in our lifetime.


The following six gravestones depict symbols of death, and one even has a Memento Mori poem inscribed upon it.

The graves are described and the inscriptions stated, along with the interpretation of the symbols below.


Grave 1




Ledger Gravestone
Central Image: 
Hourglass (symbol of mortality, representing the passage of time)
Left Side Inscription: 
“memor esto mortis” Latin: Translation: “be mindful of death”
“Here / interred the / Body of Hugh / Skerrett of / Gorsty Hill / who Dyed / August the 21st / Anno Dini / 1719 / And in the 71st / year of his / age”

Right Side Inscription:
“Here / lieth the Body / of Mary Wife / of Hugh Sker- / rett who de- / parted this / life April the 18 / 1737 Aged 75 / Years and 11 / Months”


From the Barthomley Parish Registers:
Hugh Skerrett, Weston, Gorstey hill, buried 24/08/1719
Mary Sherratt, Wybunbury parish, widow, buried 22/04/1737


The Hourglass by Michael 'Jarl' Oakes, 2008


Grave 2






Raised Chest Tomb with Gravestone 
Central Upper Image: 
Two Trumpeting Angels (symbolising the heralding of the Day of Judgement, and hence Rebirth and Resurrection) with a Skull & Crossbones to the Centre (two thigh bones crossed with a skull form a mortality symbol, but these bones and the skull were also thought in the medieval period to be the parts of the body required for resurrection) 
Inscription: 
““[Semi Circle to top] THE TRUMPET SHALL SOUND AND THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED”
“Sacred / to the memory of Jane Daughter / of Robert and Elizabeth Glover of / Balterley who departed this life / March 7th 1799 Aged 10 Years / and 5 Months / Also __ of Elizabeth Daughter of / the said Robert and Elizabeth Glover / who died August 27 1802 / Aged 8 Years 6 Months and 1 Week / ALSO of Robert son of the said / Robert and Elizabeth Glover who / died November 24th 1814 Aged 22 Years / ALSO John, eldest son of John and / Anne Ginders, late of Rose Hill, / Balterley, and Barthomley, / who died May 21st 1912, Aged 63 Years.”



From the Barthomley Parish Registers:
Jane Glover, Balterley, daughter of Robert Glover, Balterley, farmer, by his wife Elizabeth, died 06/03/1799, buried 10/03/1799, ch.yd 10
Elizabeth Glover, daughter of Rob[er]t Glover, Balterley, farmer, by his wife Eliz[abeth]: died 27/08/1802, buried 29/08/1802, ch.yd 8
Robert Glover, Balterley, buried 28/11/1814, [aged] 22



Grave 3


Ledger Gravestone
Central Upper Image: 
Heart, Heart, Diamond (symbolising Love or Charity)
Inscription:
“Here lieth in hopes / of full Resurrection / the Body of George Steele / of Buddeley who depart- / ed this life the 29th Day of / December Anno Doni 1722 / in the 51st year of his Age.” (part guessed as grass covering)

Central Lower Image: 
Skull and Crossbones (two thigh bones crossed with a skull form a mortality symbol, but these bones and the skull were also thought in the medieval period to be the parts of the body required for resurrection)
“ALSO / JOSEPH STEELE / ..... BUDDELIEY ?"


NOTE:
George Steele was also the last person to die in the year of 1722, so he may well represent the guardian of the graveyard for that year, please see details about the "Ankou" in our related article @ http://www.mysticmasque.com/history-mystery/the-ankou-churchyard-guardians-black-dogs-and-memento-mori.


From the Barthomley Parish Registers:
George Steele, Buddeley, yeoman, buried 01/12/1722




The Ankou by Michael 'Jarl' Oakes, 2008



Grave 4


Ledger Gravestone
Central Upper Image: 
Heart, Heart, Diamond (symbolising Love or Charity)
Inscription:
“the 79th year of his life and the / ............................. of our Lord 1720”
Central Lower Image: 
Skull and Two Crossbones eitherside (two thigh bones crossed with a skull form a mortality symbol, but these bones and the skull were also thought in the medieval period to be the parts of the body required for resurrection)
Poem / Verse at End:
“Take ye heed watch and ....... ,
Not when the time is ........ ?”

Actual original verse:
“Take ye heed watch and pray for ye know,
not when the time is” Matthew Chap. 24 v 42



Grave 5




Ledger Gravestone
Left Image: 
Spade crossed with a Pick Axe (Gravediggers tools symbolising mortality, the sexton was the old term for the person who dug the graves, or that this was the profession of the deceased)
Right Image: 
Spade crossed with a Pick Axe (Gravediggers tools symbolising mortality, the sexton was the old term for the person who dug the graves, or that this was the profession of the deceased)
Inscription:
“Here / lie the Remains of Elizabeth / Wife of Matthew Whitney of / Crewe who departed this Life / August the 19th 1776 aged .. years / Also Samuel then Son buried .... This Life ... the 7th 1778 aged 5 Years / Also Elizabeth then Daughter / ............. this Life February the / ..... aged 6 Years”
“Also the Remains of said Matthew / Whitney of Crewe who departed / this Life December the 9th 1786 / ............. aged 78 Years.”

Poem / Verse at End:
“Death said Surely he never feered to fear
Who dy’d in peace and with concience clear,
To serve his God his care was to the end
A tender Parent and a faithful friend.”



From the Barthomley Parish Registers:
Elizabeth Whitney wife [of] Matthew Whitney, Crewe, yeoman, buried 22/08/1776
Samuel Whitney son [of] Matthew Whitney, Crewe, yeoman, buried 10/07/1778
Matthew Whitney, Crewe, yeoman, buried 13/12/1786




Grave 6



Ledger Gravestone
Left Image: 
Vertical Scythe crossed with a horizontal arrow (interpretation CES Fairey & MC Oakes: Death / Ankou)Left Image: 
Hourglass (symbol of mortality, representing the passage of time)
Inscription:
“HERE LYETH THE / BODY OF IOHN SMITH / OF THE SICH WHO WAS / BURIED IULY THE 12TH DAY / OF ANNO DOMINI 1698”
“ALSO BRIDGET HIS / WIFE WHO DEPARTED / THIS LIFE MAY THE 5TH / ANNO DOMINI 1685”
“Randle Son of the above / named Iohn and Bridget / Smith was here interred / .... day of August 1729”



From the Barthomley Parish Registers:
Bridget Smith wife [of] John Smith, Haslington, buried 06/05/1685
John Smith, Haslington, ye Such (Farm name, meaning drain / the Such, like at Basford), buried12/07/1698
Randle Smith, Such, The, yeoman, buried 17/08/1729



At Astbury Church near Congleton, Cheshire, exist two Similar Examples upon a Grave:


The Ankou Symbol by Michael 'Jarl' Oakes, 2008

The Hourglass Symbol by Michael 'Jarl' Oakes, 2008



Please also see our friend Amanda Norman's Blog all about Headstone Symbols @ http://headstonesymbols.co.uk/, where you can read all about their meanings.

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