Wednesday, 22 April 2009

More Memorials

Some more memorials from Elmsted church. If the window to Arthur Honywood which I wrote about a few days ago is a perfect example of Victorian idealism (and I mean that in the most genuine and admiring way possible) - a young man killed fighting bravely for Queen and Empire - the Honywood below is a paragon of an earlier century:

I like to believe that every word of a tribute like this one is true - because someone wanted it to be true, at least, and that means something. Just because a description is expressed in language which is resonant of its time, just because we might choose different words to praise a well-loved man, doesn't mean that such a memorial is not genuinely felt. "At a time when hospitality and simplicity of manners were giving way to fashion and refinement..." The opposition between 'hospitality' and 'fashion' is interesting. The contrast between 'simplicity' vs. 'refinement' is obvious enough, but that hospitality should be considered an old-fashioned, dying virtue strikes me as interesting.

"Others may have moved in a higher sphere, but no man ever contributed more to the advantage, comfort and happiness of the circle around him". Who wouldn't want such a lovely tribute?

The spelling and the lack of commas are also delightful. 'Experiened' must be a stone-carving example of eye-skip, I assume, caused by the similar shapes of 'c', 'e' and 'd' so close together?

Going back even further in time, this memorial to a daughter of a Honywood tells us a lot about family life in the seventeenth century, something about an ideal of womanhood ("in all hir actions grave and provident..."), and even a little about Early Modern spelling:
"in memory of home"is particularly interesting. But apart from all that, of course, there was a real woman and children and a loving husband, and without this we might not know... I think these things deserve to be read.