I recently made a trip up to the Yorkshire Dales, primarily as a photographic expedition to shoot the magnificent views in the various dales and to visit the route of the forthcoming “Toure de France” (yes, I know it is not in France but who cares when we get to see the worlds greatest cyclists on these shores and in particular zooming through “Gods own country.”
First stopping off point was Masham, home of the famous Black Sheep Brewery and an opportunity to stock up with some beer, I particularly recommend the “Holy Grail” brew and yes it is dedicated to the Pythons! A conducted tour of the brewery is thoroughly recommended as it introduces you to the complexities and techniques of brewing beer.
Wandering through the village I came across Masham C of E church set in its own beautifully tendered grounds and with gravestones dating back to the 18th century. As I wandered around reading the headstones it struck me that in the 18th and 19th centuries people either died quite young from about the age of a few weeks through to about 6 years of age or lived to a “ripe old age” sometimes in their late 80s.
As we know from history mortality rates amongst children in industrial and rural communities was high. However, from the evidence in the graveyard it seems that if you managed to make it into your late teens you had a good chance of living a long life.
In the first photograph one couple lost three children aged 8 months, 6 months and 5 years and in the second photograph a couple lost a child at 19 weeks and one at 5 years of age. This kind of thing was quite common on the headstones I could manage to read.
At the other end of the scale you will see in the third photograph that one lady who died in 1849 had lived for 89 years and in the fourth photograph a lady who died in 1879 was also 89 years of age (what historical events must she have lived through?). Interesting that the long livers seemed to be women!
The fifth photograph is of a gentleman with the unusual name of “Mason Verity” and who had the following rather nice inscription on his grave:-
“Mourn not, my wife and children dear
I am not dead, but sleepeth here
My debt is paid, my grave you see
Stay but a while, then follow me”
The final photograph is of the headstone for the Rev John Smith who spent many years as a curate in Kent and died in 1827 at the grand old age of 76 years.
What I find interesting about this is that his body was returned to Yorkshire for burial, no mean feat of transportation in 1827 and indicative of the lengths “Yorkshire folk” will go to, to return to their roots. As they say you can “take the man out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the man.”
After about one and a half hours wandering around the graveyard it was time to depart and head into the real Dales country with initial destinations of Aysgarth Falls to hopefully see the river in full flow (after all the rain we have had recently) and take a walk along the river to get some close up shots of the various waterfalls.
Destination for the evening was the village of Redmire with the imposing castle Bolton just a short walk away.