Circus Family

In Billing Road cemetery Northampton, stands a memorial to ‘Sir’ Robert William Fossett, a circus owner, his wife and their son. The Fossett family’s involvement with the circus as Equestriennes began in 1852. Robert Fossett proclaimed as the champion bare-back rider of the world, gave himself the title of Sir to compete against ‘Lord’ George Sanger, who was one of the most successful circus entrerpreneurs of the 19th century.

The memorial is a pedimented plinth with a gable stone inscribed on one side with the legend, In Loving Memory Of Robert Fossett, Who Died December 31st 1922, Aged 72 Years. He Has Pulled In For His Last Rest And Still Remains With Those Who Knew And Those Who Loved Him Best. Loved Dearly By All His Children.

Fossett Horse2

The other side of the stone hosts the inscription, In Loving Memory Of Mary, The Dearly Beloved Wife Of Robert Fossett. Who Died September 18th 1915, Aged 56 Years. The Face We Loved Is Now Laid Low, The Fond True Heart Is Still, The Hand That Often Clasped In Ours, Lies Now In Death’s Cold Chill. Life’s Race Well Run, Life’s Work Well Done, Life’s Crown Well Won, Then Comes Sweet Rest At Last. “Her Children Arise Up And Call Her Blessed.

Fossett Horse

A carving of crossed whips and a horseshoe encircled with oak leaves is located on the capital beneath the head of the horse. Oak, a dense wood which is strong and hard represents stability, strength, endurance and longevity and is commonly found near children’s graves. An inscription below states, Henry Son Of R. And M. Fossett. Died Nov 14th 1890 Aged 4 Months.

The monument is surmounted with the statue of a horse sculpted in Italian marble by Charles Robinson of Kettering. Erected in 1923 the horse with head bowed and a blanket slipping from its back symbolises the race is over. The horse originally looked down upon an open book of marble inscribed on two pages with the legend: To Our Dear Friend, Robert Fossett. A Token Of Respect From All The Artists At E. H. Bostock’s Circus. The book no longer exists and the horse’s ears have been damaged.

BLB fossett

The monument was recorded as a Grade II British Listed Building on 20 April 2007.

Fossett_blb

 

Glossary

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Pediment, an element in architecture consisting of a gable placed above a horizontal structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

 

The Patonce Crosses

The Patonce cross refers to any cross which has expanded ends and as such includes the Patee cross, the Fleury or Gothic cross, and the Botonee cross.

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The Botonee cross has at each end a trefoil (three rounded lobes) which represent faith, wisdom and charity. In Christianity the three petals represent the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit with a total of 12 petals symbolizing the 12 apostles.

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Sweet spirit dear a sad farewell
For we shall meet again
The place where happy souls do dwell
Is free from toil and pain. – 1832

This cross is decorated with Christ on the cross, six pointed stars at each end and on the base, a crescent moon.

botonee_journals.hil.unb.ca

 

Botonee poppy

A poppy grows at the base of the above image representing Eternal sleep, Peace and Rest.

And he asked who gathered this flower
And the gardener answered the Master
And his fellow servant held his peace.

The ends of a Gothic cross, also known as a Fleury cross, are more open and flare out. It represents the adult Christian and is occasionally found with flowers at the end e.g. Fleur de Lys.

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Unto Thy faithful, O Lord
Life is changed not taken away
                           Ω
They die in Jesus and are blest
How kind their slumbers are
From sufferings and from sins released
And freed from every snare. – 1801

The Patee cross is not indented to form lobes but is incorporated into the Patonce family because its arms narrow towards the center. This cross is often embroidered on altar and pulpit hangings.

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Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord
But again I hope to meet him
When the day of life is fled
And in Heaven with joy to greet him
Where no farewell tears are shed

Image Sources:
http://www.russianroots.ca/schafertree.htm
http://journals.hil.unb.ca/journalimages/MCR/1989/Vol_29/mcr29rr04_fig3.jpg
http://kaionegal.typepad.com/the_art_of_nothing/2010/09/londons-brompton-cemetery.html

Memento Mori

Memento Mori is a term used to describe funerary art. Gravestones will often display this Latin phrase which translated means, Remember You Will Die, which is more of a warning to the living rather than the deceased upon whose headstone it is engraved.

Creative Commons License. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/4358919924
Creative Commons License. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/4358919924

This gravestone is located in St. Cuthbert Churchyard, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. The natural patina is a result of moss growing in the damp climate with further erosion damage due to the extremes of the Scottish weather.

Erosion of the stone has obliterated much of the original inscription. The few words which are still legible state:
Who died 7th Feb
Aged 48 years
His children who
Also Thomas
Burgess

The symbols on this headstone represent several aspects of Memento Mori.

  • The winged effigy represents the deceased soul in flight.
  • The banner inscribed with the words Memento Mori is a reminder that death is unavoidable.
  • Skulls are a frequent feature on gravestones around the world appearing in various forms often with crossbones. It is a symbol of death, mortality, penitence, and sin.
  • Arched columns symbolize the passage to Heaven.
  • The drapes represent mourning and the partition between life and death.

Life is short, and shortly it will end;
Death comes quickly and respects no one,
Death destroys everything and takes pity on no one.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.

In the second example the word Memento Mori is again visible. The reversed letter N is used. Although I have researched I can find no reason for the reversal. Many opinions offer illiteracy as a reason; however, it may simply be the letterform used during the period (e.g. the letters f, j, and v were used to represent s, i and u.)

Creative Commons License. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/4358905866/
Creative Commons License. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/4358905866/

Symbolism on this headstone represents the passage of time and the inevitability of death.
Bones: mortality and death
Hourglass: Passage of time
Rosettes: Brevity of earthly existence.

Death like an overflowing stream
Sweeps us away our life’s a dream
An empty tale a morning flowr,
Cut down and witherd in an hour. 1797

The third example once again denotes mortality and death with the symbols of the skull and bones.

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A skull represents death and mortality
A single bone is symbolic of death and decay.

Our life is ever on the wing
And death is ever nigh
The moment when our life begins
We all begin to die. 1791

Note: Did you notice that the skulls in the photos bear scars?