The Graveyard Squirrel

“Every day above ground is a good day.” ~ Al Pacino

Welcome to a stroll among the dead with the Graveyard Squirrel – a seeker of elusive ancestors and a wanderer of cemeteries.

See you on the other side?

Waking the Dead?

Have you ever heard the one about how there are only two things that are certain to us?

The first one being that we are all subject to some form of taxation and the second is that one day we WILL all die.

As a genealogical researcher I can often spend a lot of my time grappling with the mystery of death for if I’m not in search of a missing ancestor on behalf of a client – I can be poring over the details on a newly discovered (and often indecipherable!) certificate of death or else trawling through parish records in search of a burial entry or firing off email inquiries to the Registrar of a crematorium.

However, if you struggle with the thought of death and have no wish to contemplate – MY world is probably NOT for you!

For as well as sharing the tales of and triumphs of family history – I will be sharing the images of my wanderings among the dead as I love nothing more than a ramble through a cemetery and have been pottering among the tombstones for as long as I can remember.

It was the author Lailah Gifty Akita who said “The graveyard is an everlasting home of every man” and I couldn’t agree more for within most of our cemeteries, you can discover evidence of spectacular craftsmanship, awe inspiring stonework, history, sublime words of poignancy and the occasional flashes of humour!

Welcome along…

A Wander Among the Dead…

To the Vale of the Graves with Lady B.

Annabella was laid to rest at Kensal Green Cemetery in West London on May 21 1860 and despite the incorrect spelling of her first name and that she had been born in the home of her mother’s great friend Isabella Baker at Elemore Hall, her simple and elegant grave can be discovered in the shadow of the enormous Dissenter’s Chapel.

And it was on a glorious afternoon in October as I took a stroll through this fabulous cemetery as the Graveyard Squirrel that I would finally find my way to the grave of Byron’s spouse…

Waking the Dead? Good Grief!

Have you ever heard the one about how there are only two things that are certain to us?

The first one being that we are all subject to some form of taxation and the second is that one day we WILL all die.

As a genealogical researcher I can often spend a lot of my time grappling with the mystery of death for if I’m not in search of a missing ancestor on behalf of a client, I can be poring over the details on a newly discovered (and often indecipherable!) certificate of death or else trawling through parish records in search of a burial entry or firing off email inquiries to the Registrar of a crematorium.

However, if you struggle with the thought of death and have no wish to contemplate it – MY world is probably NOT for you!

Implore Pace? Are a Poet’s Bones At Rest?

On July 16 and an incredible 23 years ago I celebrated the safe arrival of my youngest son Tom and in 1824 a further 194 years ago, the church of St Mary Magdalene in the town of Hucknall in Nottingham welcomed the safe arrival of the remains of the poet Lord Byron for burial after his death at the age of 36 on April 19 in the town of Missolonghi in Greece.

However, before I become too carried away with this wonderful evocative account of Byron’s funeral and the moving processional scenes of the crowds of ordinary people who attended him to his grave; I am reminded of a letter written by Byron to his faithful publisher John Murray in the summer of 1819…

To the Vale of the Graves…

In the days following the news of Lord Byron’s death in Greece on April 19 1824; his young widow had written a poem which tells of her sorrow that on his death bed her exiled spouse had asked that a message be brought to her.

It anxiously gaz’d, but its language and lights
As they faded were seal’d from mortality’s sights.

The effort was made, but all, all, was in vain
And dark is that page which he sought to explain…

And some 36 years later on the day before her 68th birthday and with her beloved granddaughter and namesake Anne Isabella Noel King by her side; Annabella died in the early morning hours of Wednesday May 16 1860 and was later laid to rest at Kensal Green Cemetery in West London.

And it was on a glorious afternoon in October as I took a stroll through this fabulous cemetery as the Graveyard Squirrel that I would finally find my way to the grave of Byron’s spouse.

I say finally as this grave was not one of the easiest to find, hidden as it is by an impressive display of several large obelisks and some rather flamboyant monuments…

To the Vale of Graves with Lady B.

Good Grief!

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” ~ Cicero

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