Sunday, April 6, 2014

18th century graveyard trivia

So, a bunch of peasants rubbernecking at the crazy lordling; also, the reason they rarely get speaking lines: dialect. Rural England has a variety of regional dialects that can be nigh unintelligible (or is that illegible?) Luckily, my main characters are all well-educated enough to speak standard English.

It's such a sad subject that I inserted inappropriate humor in order to cope. Look at the servants. The footman was too slow to hand Her Grace out and is afraid he's in trouble, and the maid is struggling with the heavy umbrella.

I read rather a lot about graveyards, most of it unnecessary for the level of detail I put in here. Allan is kneeling by a chest tomb, a fancified tombstone. It resembles a sarcophogus, but the body is buried under it rather than being interred within. It is right next to the church wall (a preferred spot). The Stanhopes are THE most important family in the parish and may well have funded the building of the church, to show off their awesomeness.

Most people (read: less important than an Earl) would have a headstone and likely a footstone to mark their grave. Some of them resembled headboards and footboards of a bed, as though the deceased were sleeping. Epitaphs were everywhere, and so were carvings of cherubs, skulls, hourglasses, wheat, and other trite symbols of mortality. We're mostly past the time when people would insist on being buried in the church; literally under the aisles, but there is probably a fancy monument to the deceased inside the church as well, paid for by the family.

Do you know why graveyards were traditionally fenced? They would keep sheep in them to keep the grass cropped short!

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