This gravestone is located in the churchyard of Saint Mary the Virgin in Nonington, Kent, England. The deceased, John Payn, was 22 years old when he died in 1872. On 2 April 1871 the national census recorded John as a journeyman grocer unemployed through ill-health. Poor lad died on 22 October the following year and was buried three days later.
John’s father, Richard Payn, died when John was only 11 years old. His mother, Mary Ann Saffery remarried the following year and the family, including brothers Thomas and Frederick and a sister named Fanny, lived with their stepfather, William Kingsford.
Rev. Sholto Douglas Campbell-Douglas, M.A. was appointed to the vicarage of Nonington in 1871 and resigned in 1872 when he was promoted to All Saints in Derby. He therefore only knew John for less than two years. With no information regarding the relationship between John Payn and the Reverend Douglas it’s unclear why he would erect such a lavish stone in his honour.
Erected by the Rev. Sholto D.C. Douglas, Vicar.
To the memory of John Payn.
Born April 7th 1850. Died October 22nd 1872
“He being dead yet speaketh”
The TWO ROADS.
Its Gate is wide – Matt. vii. 13.
Its way is dark – Prov. ii. 13.
Its paths are false – Prov. xiv. 12.
It is crowded by those
Who forsake God – Isaiah i. 4
Who do iniquity – Isaiah Lix. 3
Who serve the Devil – John viii. 44
It leads to Misery – Rom. ii. 9
Death – Rom. vi. 21
Judgment – Matt. xii. 36
Its End is HELL where
there shall be wailing and
gnashing of teeth. – Matt. xiii. 42
Its Gate is strait – Matt. vii. 14
Its way is light – John viii. 12
Its paths are truth – Psa. xxv. 10
It is trod by those
Who forsake sin – 1 Peter iii. 10. 21
Who do the will of God – Matt. vii. 21
Who serve the Lord Christ – Col. iii. 24
It leads to Happiness – Psa. Lxiv. 10
Life – Matt. vii. 14
Eternal glory – 1 Peter. v. 10
Its END is HEAVEN where
there is fullness of joy and
pleasures for evermore – Psa. xvi. 11
Mark on this side you have
And on this side you find
Along which of these two Roads are you hastening? for in one or other you most certainly are. Are you on the way to GOD and HEAVEN, or SATAN and HELL. A mistake if continued to the end will be fatal: “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.” MARK viii. 36.
JESUS CHRIST SAYS, “I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME. JOHN xiv 6. “HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME HATH EVERLASTING LIFE.” JOHN vi 47. “HIM THAT COMETH UNTO ME I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT.” JOHN vi 37. “I CAME NOT TO CALL THE RIGHTEOUS, BUT SINNERS TO REPENTANCE.” Mark ii 17. “THE SON OF MAN IS COME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THAT WHICH IS LOST.” Luke xix 10.
There are many cemeteries in which limited space has been well appropriated.
How terrible it is to love something that death can touch.
For 300 years during the 15th and 18th centuries there was only one burial ground in Prague, the Czech Republic, in which the Jewish faithful were permitted to bury their dead. The cemetery was small and vacant plots soon disappeared. As Jewish law prohibits the destruction of graves or the removal of gravestones, soil was layered over existing plots causing the cemetery to rise above street level. The original gravestone was erected beside the new headstone which explains how and why the gravestones are packed so closely together. Approximately 12,000 headstones sit atop twelve layers of graves beneath.
In 19th century London an expansion of the railway system required the exhumation and removal of gravestones in St. Pancras Cemetery. Thomas Hardy, an apprentice architect, was assigned the task of reburying them. Hundreds of gravestones were placed in a circular pattern around an ash tree now known as the Hardy Tree.
‘The Levelled Churchyard”, an early poem by Thomas Hardy O passenger, pray list and catch Our sighs and piteous groans, Half stifled in this jumbled patch Of wrenched memorial stones! We late-lamented, resting here, Are mixed to human jam, And each to each exclaims in fear, ‘I know not which I am!’
The Last Curtain Call For G H Elliott The Chocolate Coloured Coon Who Passed Peacefully Away 19 November 1962 Dearly Loved R.I.P
The description of G. H. Elliott seems offensive and racist. In fact, Elliott was not a man of colour. He was a British music hall singer and dancer in the early 20th century who came on stage with a painted black face but dressed entirely in white. He had a white top hat, a white tail-coat which came down well below the knees, white gloves, white tie or cravat, white trousers, white shoes and a white cane.
Blackface theatrical make-up was used by non-black performers to represent a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes until the decline in the popularity of music hall entertainment and changing attitudes regarding racism.
G. H. Elliott (November 1882 – 19 November 1962) is buried in St. Margaret’s Churchyard, Rottingdean, England. His gravestone depicts a stage with curtains drawn back.
There was a time in the latter part of the last century when facilities for those suffering from mental health issues were known as Hospitals for the Insane, State Colonies for the Feeble-Minded, Lunatic Asylums or Mental Institutions, and the regard for the patients was equally insensitive even in death. Many family members did not claim the bodies of their deceased relatives and they were buried in unmarked graves or graves identified with only a number.
Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum opened in 1842. Over population and a decrease in staff sadly led to mistreatment of patients. People died at an alarming rate and it is believed that 25,000 people are buried in the hospital grounds possibly in a mass grave. The Central State Hospital in Milledgeville as it became known closed in 2010. Cedar Lane Cemetery contains numbered iron markers of patients who died at the hospital. The historic marker at the cemetery states the following: In 1997 a cemetery restoration began here triggered a movement to memorialize patients buried at state psychiatric hospitals nationwide. After discovering nearby neglected cemeteries interred some 25,000 people, members of the Georgia Consumer Council pledged to restore the burial grounds and build a memorial. A grassroots campaign raised funds to erect the adjacent gate and display 2000. numbered iron markers displaced from graves over the years. A life-size bronze angel was placed 175 yards south of here to serve as a perpetual guardian.
Letchworth Village in Rockland County, Rockland County New York, opened in 1911 as a residential facility for the mentally and/or physically disabled. It closed in 1996 after years of reported abuse and a lack of funding. Graves are marked with rusting metal T-shapes embossed with a number.
The Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum Cemetery in Wells, Somerset opened in 1874 and closed in 1991. The cemetery contains 2900 anonymous graves identified by numbered iron discs. A wooden sculpture by artist Peter Bolton lies on the ground beside the markers representing the anguish of mental health.
Image source: TripAdvisor
As recent as 2011, there was no road, no sign and no headstones for the 5776 patients buried at the Willard Asylum for the Insane. New York State operated 26 of these facilities.
Vermont Asylum for the Insane was founded in Brattleboro in 1834 to care for the mentally ill. Initially deceased patients were buried in the Village Burying Ground (to later become Prospect Hill Cemetery), then the Asylum Burying Ground and finally in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery known as Fairview. None of the graves have identification.
“The eye of him that hath seen me shall come no more. Why hast thou set in me a mark against thee so that I am a burden to myself? and why dost thee not pardon my transgression and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.” Sarah Culy
Between 1871 and 1953, there were 3200 patients buried at the Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Oregon. They were represented by numbered stones which sank beneath the surface of the ground. A granite stone has been erected over a mass grave to mark their lives and deaths.
The Longview Asylum opened in 1860 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The hospital cemetery contains the bodies of patients who were unclaimed or died indigent. Grave markers consist of small square cement blocks bearing a number.
Spencer State Asylum Roane County, West Virginia, opened in 1893 closing almost 100 years later in 1989. Approximately 850 patients are buried on the hospital grounds.
The Mississippi Lunatic Asylum was established in Jackson in 1848 and asylum patients were buried on the grounds. The cemetery which has been consecrated also contains the ashes of many anatomical donors and is the repository for the ashes of infants who died at UMC and whose families wished them to be buried there. A Ceremony of Remembrance honors them in a fall service.
“By their extraordinary gifts these dead have taught the living how to touch, through them, we touch the body of the world”. John Stone M.D.
This monument was dedicated on april 16, 1996 as a memorial to all those who have donated their bodies to the University of Mississippi Medical Center since 1955 for professional education and research.
Public attitude has since changed 180 degrees with regards to mental health. Markers and/or memorial walls have been erected to recognize those who died and were buried with no ceremony. A new national memorial dedicated to the unnamed graves of the mentally ill broke ground at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2009.
There are many cemeteries in which limited space has been well appropriated.
In 19th century London an expansion of the railway system required the exhumation and removal of gravestones in St. Pancras Cemetery. Thomas Hardy was assigned the task of reburying them. Hundreds of gravestones were placed in a circular pattern around an ash tree now known as the Hardy Tree.
For 300 years during the 15th and 18th centuries there was only one burial ground in Prague, the Czech Republic, in which the Jewish faithful were permitted to bury their dead. The cemetery was small and vacant plots soon disappeared.
As Jewish law prohibits the destruction of graves or the removal of gravestones, soil was layered over existing plots causing the cemetery to rise above street level.
The original gravestone was erected beside the new headstone which explains how and why the gravestones are packed so closely together.
Approximately 12,000 headstones sit atop twelve layers of graves beneath.
Actual shell fragments left on gravestones in pioneer cemeteries represent the journey through death and rebirth. Shells that are not part of the gravestone were left there to signify that the deceased had not been forgotten.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
In localities near the sea, entire graves were covered with shells because this product was cheap and readily available.
Although not a common symbol the shell most often used is a scallop shell which represents the baptism of Christ. Many baptismal fonts are often built in the form of a scallop shell.
It is also a traditional symbol of the Crusades.
This large scallop shell was designed by the deceased, Ransom Cook, some years before his death.
The art form of a child cradled in a scallop shell was popular in North America during the 19th century. Sears, Roebuck and Company had a contract with a Vermont marble producer to sell the shell headstone by mail order.
The conch shell was revered by many cultures as a symbol of reincarnation and wisdom. In Buddhism, the shell’s call can awaken one from ignorance, in Chinese Buddhism it signifies a prosperous journey; and in Islam the shell represents hearing the divine word. People in the Bakongo area of Africa believe that the shell encloses the soul (Pagans also held this same belief regarding the shell as a source of life.)
The term Gypsy is no longer used by the aforesaid people who prefer to be known as Roma. More of a nickname, several countries claim their own ‘Queen’ .
On January 31, 1915, Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsy Nation, died at age 47 while giving birth to her 14th child. Although she died in Coatapa, Alabama, she is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Meridian, Mississippi, USA. Approximately 20,000 Romanies travelled to pay their last respects. The headstone is constantly swathed with beads and trinkets put there to beseech the Queen to provide answers to their problems. Her husband Emil Mitchell, King of the Gypsies, is also buried in the cemetery.
When Ruby Pearl Marshall died in 2016, hundreds of mourners travelled to Wales to pay their respects to the 78 year old who had 52 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The funeral was held at St Tydfil’s Old Parish Church in Merthyr with burial at Glyntaff Cemetery in Pontypridd, Wales. The Romanis followed a century old tradition which allows each family member to choose a keepsake from the deceased’s belongings. The caravan with contents was then burned.
Ellen McDonagh from Levenshulme, Manchester, England, survived the tragic loss of two husbands. She raised six kids on her own, and at the time of her passing in 2017 she had 40 grandchildren. She was known across England and Ireland as Queen of the Gypsies. Members of the traveller community in Ireland and the UK travelled to Manchester to pay their respects to Ellen.
Carmen Amaya who was born in 1918 in the slums of Barcelona, Spain became the greatest Flamenco dancer of her generation. She was also known as the Queen of the Gypsies. She died in 1963 of kidney failure and was originally buried in her hometown of Bagur. Her body was later transferred to the family tomb of her husband, Juan Antonio Aguero, in the cemetery of Ciriego, Santander, Spain. The grave is not marked with her name as the family wished to prevent it from becoming an attraction for gypsies.
A monument of Carmen posed in traditional Flamenco dress is located at the Jardins de Joan Brossa in Montjuïc, Barcelona.