Hendon Crematorium, North London, UK.

What better way to spend a rain sloshed Sunday than slithering about Hendon Crematorium with my macro lens? I haven’t got a good collection of graveside detail so far, I mean a real ‘close-up’. So today I concentrated on taking tight shots and spent time looking for details that really stood out – ornaments, flowers (both real and not), cracks, chips, growths and grooves. Here follows an establishing shot of the lovely gothic Old English signage, plus a few of my favourites from today…

This is the last photo I took and my lens was pretty smudged up by that point.

Holt Cemetery, Louisiana, New Orleans.

I received this email and the attached pictures recently, for which I am very grateful. All caps, shouty, I like it. Thank you Krista Jurisich!

“THIS IS MY FAVORITE CEMETERY TO VISIT

HOLT CEMETERY IN NEW ORLEANS LA. / OFF THE GENTILLY RIDGE NEAR BAYOU ST. JOHN

THE PRACTICE HERE IS THAT YOU MAY BURY YOUR LOVED ONES AT NO CHARGE, ANYWHERE YOU CAN FIND A SPOT, AND FOR AS LONG AS YOU MAINTAIN YOUR PLOT. THIS IS A VERY OLD AFRICIAN AMERICAN CEMETERY AND IT IS ALWAYS A WORK IN PROGRESS / WHICH IS WHY I LOVE IT SO! MANY JAZZ GREAT HAVE BEEN BURIED HERE AND THE SPOTS HAVE BEEN LONG LOST. IT HAS A WELCOMING AND LOVING VIBE.”

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

Holt Cemetery, photo by Krista Jurisic.

A look at St. Melangell’s Church, North Wales.

Favourite Graves contributor Lora Jones recently visited St. Melangell’s Church, often named as one of Britain’s most attractive remote churches, at Pennant Melangell in North Wales. The Shrine Church of Pennant Melangell is a beautiful mediaeval church ensconced in tranquil rural countryside at the end of the Tanat Valley. There is now no longer a village at Pennant Melangell, although the Shrine Church is open to and used by the public, and is easily reached by travelling two miles down a narrow lane from nearby Llangynog.

St. Melangell’s Church
Pennant Melangell Chapel, Wales.

History of St. Melangell’s church, taken from their website.

“Melangell was a female saint of the 7th century. According to tradition she came here from Ireland and lived as a hermit in the valley. One day Brochwel, Prince of Powys, was hunting and pursued a hare which took refuge under Melangell’s cloak. The Prince’s hounds fled, and he was moved by her courage and sanctity. He gave her the valley as a place of sanctuary, and Melangell became Abbess of a small religious community. After her death her memory continued to be honoured, and Pennant Melangell has been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. Melangell remains the patron saint of hares.

There has been a Christian Church here for over 1200 years. Its setting, in a place of great beauty deep in the Berwyn Mountains, is peaceful and unspoilt. The church stands in a round churchyard, once a Bronze Age site, ringed by ancient yew trees estimated to be two thousand years old. Parts of the building date from the 12th Century though the most recent, a rebuilding of the apse on its original foundations, was completed only in 1990. The impression is still that of a simple Norman church, well loved and beautified over the years.

The church contains a fine 15th Century oak screen with carvings that tell the story of Melangell and Prince Brochwel. There are also two medieval effigies, one of which is thought to represent the saint; a Norman font, a Georgian pulpit, chandelier and commandment board, a series of stone carvings of the hare by the sculptor Meical Watts, and the mysterious Giant’s Rib.”

Meical Watts stone carving of a hare

“The church’s greatest treasure is the 12th Century shrine of Saint Melangell. This was dismantled after the Reformation and its stones, carved with a strange blend of Romanesque and Celtic motifs, were built into the walls of the church and lych-gate. They were reassembled in the last century and have now been re-erected in the chancel. The result is an impressive monument, unique in Britain and recently described by a leading scholar as ‘of pan-European significance’. Bones said to be those of the saint have been deposited within the shrine. The church is listed Grade 1: an illustrated history and guide is available.”

Bones of St. Melangell buried within shrine?

Lora recorded many interesting images (below), but my favourite of all has to be the intact immortelle shrine found in the church yard. I have seen many modern (post 1970) immortelles on my travels but never a Victorian one. I suspect this one isn’t from the date of death on the stone but it well could be (judging by the rusted metal guard, although weather damage to metal can take effect very quickly). Anyway, the bell dome glass looks nice and thick so I hope it remains intact for many years to come!

Finally, here is some more information on the Saints of North Wales, in particular the abbess and patron saint of rabbits, hares and small animals, St. Melangell. More images by Lora can be seen on the Favourite Graves Flickr photostream.

Soaring, Torry Battery, Aberdeen, UK.

The Torry Battery Memorial to Lost Seafarers. This memorial was erected to commemorate lives lost at sea from the city of Aberdeen. It is positioned behind the Torry Battery, an artillery battery built to defend the city of Aberdeen in the Great War and World War II. It was last used defensively in WWII.

Another Torry memorial picture.

More on Monken Hadley.

Although I love ghost stories and creepy goings on I’m not a ‘believer’ – just yet. That doesn’t stop me getting deep into scary midnight jaunts and poking around spooky places in the hope of a good old scare (or maybe more, a ghoul or goblin perhaps?).

When I recently read that Paul Baker, City of London guide and ghostwalker, gave an interview explaining that “It’s said Monken Hadley is the second most haunted village in the country” I got quite excited indeed and spent a bit of time researching its history.

The Anglican Parish church of St.Mary’s was restored in the Victorian era but a church has stood on the spot of St.Mary’s for the past 800 years. The area has seen a approximated 1,000 year history full of dark stories – the bloody Battle of Barnet where almost 3,000 men were slain on the misty common at Hadley Green, a ghost obsessed police constable so traumatised by spirits that he was eventually confined to an asylum, sad, wandering widows and executed Lords and Sirs, including Sir William Brereton who was executed along with Anne Boleyn.

Despite all this dark promise, I have found nothing to fear on my Monken Hadley visits. Although there was no supernatural activity I did stumble across an table stone that was slightly raised and had a fairly large cracked hole in its side. Spooky enough to warrant a tremor of excitement in me, I stuck my camera to record some kind of evidence, also I needed the flash to light up the grave, as it was pitch black without. This is what I found:


A whole lot of nothing, as you can see. Never mind, what the churchyard lacked in spooks and ghosts was infinitely made up for in interesting stones and engravings. My favourite ones are cracked, crumbling and covered in lichen – some caskets and stones are even ‘stapled’ together with lengths of iron, like patchwork. There is also one particularly attractive stone, featuring a striking medallion of a swooping dove, sitting quite awkwardly under an ivy strangled yew. It’s well worth a walk around St. Mary’s churchyard, if only to find the following:

Daffodils at Udny Cemetery, Aberdeenshire.

One of the cemeteries mentioned in the brilliant ‘A Scottish Graveyard Miscellany’. Behind the lovely yellow spring time flowers you are viewing a mort house. A mort house was employed in times when resurrectionists were at their peak. The mort house housed corpses for time enough until the bodies would have deteriorated, no longer be of use to anatomists, and therefore resurrectionists would not come a-digging. This mort house had a carousel inside, which, on rotation for two to three weeks, would be turned daily, adding new bodies as and when. Unfortunately for the dead of Udny, this mort safe came into use just as the need for mort houses, mortsafes, watchtowers and the like lessened as a new legislation was passed making it a lot easier for anatomists to obtain bodies – legally.