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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Celebrating Cemeteries

After discovering the Strelleys back to 1066 I had been itching to visit their ancient land. In 2014 I was able to spend several days in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire rediscovering Strelley territory. In honour of the blogger’s Cemetery Day, now declared 18 June, I've put together a few of the Strelley discoveries from that trip.

Who were the Strelleys? This knightly family featured prominently in the history of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. They hail from a place called Strelley. It's a parish about 5 miles north west of Nottingham.  Strelleys became tenants of the land around the time of the Norman Conquest. They built churches and took over monasteries all over the area. Here the relatives have built not only headstones for their mortal remains but effigies of their forefathers (and mothers).

Here are a few examples I love from All Saints Church Strelley built around 12th Century by the Strelleys.  

Memorial to John and Sanchia's children-  James and Sanchia

Stone Tomb of Sir John Strelley d 1501 and Sanchia D 1500
Several brasses are laid in the floor for Sir Robert de Strelley d1487 and  Isabel d 1458

All Saints Church Strelley  c12th Century
Tomb of Sir Sampson  d 1390 and Elizabeth de Strelley died 1405

Newstead Abbey was the home of Sir John Byron and Alice Strelley.
Remains of Newstead Abbey

Painted tomb of Sir John Byron and Alice Strelley

Painted tomb of Sir John Byron and Alice Strelley

More recently the family moved to Derbyshire and I found these more recent graves on a visit to Saint Mary the Virgin Church in Belper. Here we discovered some of the relatives of Robert and Elizabeth Strelley nee Clayton my 4th Great Grandparents the owners of Waingroves Hall. See previous blog on Waingroves Hall.

The following were grandchildren of Robert and Elizabeth

Caroline Bridger Pittis 1823 - 1898 married William Roby Strelley 1820 - 1858

Georgina Grace Eckersley nee Davonport 1817-1896  and her brother Robert Strelley Parker
1807-1883 . Robert was the family solicitor
Finally a passing glimpse of the name Strelley at another family plot, 5th cousin, Greg Strelley and I discovered the very weathered grave of Elizabeth Parker 1811 - 1862. She was another granddaughter of Robert Strelley  and sister to Robert Strelley Parker and Georgina Grace Davonport.

This grave took us by surprise and in trying to work out the inscription I wondered whether Greg and I with our scraping, wetting and rubbing were doing more harm than good.
Elizabeth Parker's weathered grave - before

End result

Here's a few tips for visiting old graves

  • When visiting a grave be prepared with some water and a soft brush.
  • You may want to do a little weeding to improve the photos but any major repairs may have to be referred to the trustee of the cemetery and perhaps a stonemason.
  • Take a few flowers (fake or otherwise) to place on the grave.  (I've even been tempted to plant a note on the grave for any future relatives who may be passing through)
  • Try to photograph the headstone using shadows to your advantage.
  • Refer to Cemetery websites for previous photos or inscriptions which might be available.

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