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!

A Poet’s Bones At Rest?

On July 16 and an incredible 24 years ago I celebrated the safe arrival of my youngest son Tom and in 1824 a further 195 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…

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...