Monday, September 3, 2012

Taphophile Tragics # 37


Each of these headstones was photographed at St Matthew's Anglican Church in Windsor, NSW, one of the earliest graveyards in the colony, the church being 'authorised' by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and designed by the reknowned convict architect, Francis Greenway. The foundation stone states 1820.


My issue here: Is it sacrilege to renovate a headstone? A quick definition of sacrilege: the desecration or misuse of something regarded as worthy of extreme respect. The first headstone is showing extreme weathering and is already bordering on unreadable. The smaller pair of headstones have been 'renovated' in two separate styles. The final headstone ... what can one say about this level of vandalism? Each of these methods seem, to me, to be lacking a deft touch. But I do not want the information lost to history. But should history have the final say?



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Welcome to the 37th week of Taphophile Tragics.

Your contribution is most welcome. Please ensure that you include some details of the cemetery in which you took your photographs, and link directly to your post, rather than simply to your blog in general. This week, Mr Linky opens at 9:30pm Monday, Sydney time (GMT+10), and closes at 9:30pm on the Friday. When you can, please visit the other contributing bloggers to show your appreciation of their endeavours. Due to time zone variations and overcrowded schedules, some contributions are made later than Tuesday/Wednesday. As per usual, we are working with the Linky with thumbnails, and displaying the oldest entry first, with no randomising.

15 comments:

Kate said...

I enjoyed maxing the top photo in order to read it. I say leave the stones in their original condition BUT if it is important to descendants to modernize the tombstone, it's their decision and should be respected.

Theanne said...

I believe most people who put up or have put up a grave stone/tombstone/headstone do so, so later generations are aware that they existed. Also it's a form of respect to recognize that a person existed on this earth...which is why it's so sad to think of millions of people who do not have a grave, a stone, and no recorded knowledge of where their remains are located. Sprucing up a gravestone is up to the family and friends...vandalism is a blatant lack of respect for the remains of a once living human being :(

Gemma Wiseman said...

I have never seen such alternative over-writing as featured in the last headstone! That is sacrilege! It seems scribed professionally - not hand-written - but there is no clue who the person would be - related to one buried there? As I look more closely, the over-writing appears to have been there awhile! Maybe a relation! I even find the use of the expression "overtake you" more than a little odd, when the person buried here has died first! So death's a race? "Overtake" means to go catch up and go further! "Catch up and meet you again" is maybe the implication.
All interesting!

Gene Anderson said...

@Theanne - there are also a sad number of graves that are mostly unknown, like the John Doe marker I just posted from Hawaii. Human remains, but we'll probably never know who they were or what their story was.

Regarding renovating headstones, I think markers should get a basic level of care. Not necessarily for readability (that should be up to the family and friends), but if left broken, they tend to deteriorate even faster.

Julie said...

Firstly, some of you may notice that my own contribution to Taphophile Tragics is now posted directly to TT but earlier on the Monday evening. This is instead of posting to 'Sydney Eye'. Eventually, all of my TT posts will be duplicated upon TT as a firm record. Sydney Eye will return to being just a record of my wanderings around the streets of my city, with a simpler form of 4x weekly posting. This will free me for postings to TT on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Thanks for reading, and for continuing to contribute.

Nicola Carpenter said...

Beautiful stones. An interesting question. I suppose were historic stones are concerned it would be better to have a small unobtrusive plaque with the details on it near the stone.

Sometimes even with people's best intentions, they end up making the situation worse.

Julie said...

I will show you one such tomorrow. I have found a few like this.

hamilton said...

I like that the middle examples were done in the same style as the original. I have seen a few headstones with a plaque at the base indicating the original words that have weathered away which makes it look more like a historical plaque for tourists than a memorial.

NixBlog said...

Sensitive renovation is to be preferred and one that does not end up with a rather garish result. I prefer the old weathered unrenovated headstones.

A rather tangential entry today for me, Julie. I hope I am not too much out of line. It is a memorial...

marbletowns said...

I think the last photo is the one that bothers me, out of all of them -- because it looks like vandalism (even though it isn't). Personally, I don't mind a bit of upkeep or renovation (I like NixBlog's term "sensitive renovation") --- if a family has taken the care of keeping up the stone, and wants to do a bit of light work to make it readable, I think that's okay. I guess I'd rather see a bit of sensitive renovation rather than complete neglect, although I do prefer seeing old stones left as they are (even if they become pretty weathered and somewhat unreadable).

VioletSky said...

sensitive renovation is the key. I should have looked here first - I have a feel good story about a grave marker renovation that would have been a suitable adjunct to this post. next week.

Julie said...

I really don't know what to think. I like to be able to read them, but I think I prefer them in their original state. I think it is the 'painting' that I object to. If they were re-chiselled I would feel better. But cost comes into it too ...

CaT said...

hmmmm.... i guess leave it to the elements... although neglect ofcourse will make things worse sooner, so some maintenance should be required.
hard to imagine, but one day people might be interested in all the stuff we have now, some of it also not properly stored... haha.

anyways, i missed posting this week once again. im back home for a short while (after almost 2 years), and dont really get to posting...

CaT said...

(ah, and then im this kind of weirdo who hasnt told anyone i went to the netherlands, so now i still dont know whether i should post something about it on my blog or not, risking i piss off some people i have no time to meet right now....)

Julie said...

Oh dear, my apologies dear contributors. I have only just now, early Sunday morning, managed to engage with each of your contributions. Whereas last week I had visited most by the Wednesday. Where does the week go ...