Two cottages, a farm and 43 acres of farmland, a smithy, all within a mile and a half of the local train station! These were all listed on the old details of the estate of our cottage was within. Listed for sale on the 23rd October 1872. The details were viewable at a “create an archive” evening. I had volunteered my photography services to help create a local archive.
The train station has long since gone. Two cottages are still lived in. The farm and outbuildings are still farmed. Our family purchased the smithy, 4 years ago. Over the years the estate split up, but much of the land remains in the same farming family. It was a lovely evening and one of number, so we can built up a community archive.
A few days later I got a knock on the door and a local farmer dropped off a few extra items. He also asked if I could photograph one further item which was to big and bulky to carry down to the cottage. I was curious, so asked for a little more detail.
Without letting the cat out of the bag yet, COVID19 arrived and priorities changed. Homeschooling took over and garden work replaced photography. Earlier this week, I bumped into the farmer. He has put the farm up for sale and wanted to ensure that I had photographed everything. I hadn’t managed his extra request. Next evening, the weather looked bright, sunny and clear, I set off for a small, but steep walk up to the farm.
The farm consists of the present farmhouse. Three barns and the old 1700’s farmhouse, a glorious stone buulding. Inside here resides the object. So in I walked, expecting the item to be quite small in size and a quick five minute job to photograph, what I saw when I walked in was quite the opposite…
Let your eyes settle in the dark and look towards the back of the farmhouse. The light falls on the floor and stone monolith through the window. I lucked out with my choice of evening, as the light spilling in from the windows was perfect. I’m not sure the farmer was after an insitu photograph, but I couldn’t resist spending the next hour in this room.
I’m sure you’ve worked out by now that the monolith is indeed a huge gravestone.
The gravestone is in memory of three children, David aged 4 months, and two twins (Thomas and Gwen) aged 18 and 22 days.
I know little about the history of the gravestone. But in these times of trouble it will resonate with many. I hope I paid a fitting tribute to these three children. The farmer will be receiving copies of the photographs. So whatever happens to the farm, when sold, at least I preserved a small slither of their memory.
Heading out of the farmhouse and up onto the hill behind the farm, I’m confident there was a nod of acknowledgement from up above, a strange request fulfilled.
Please contact me if you have any details to add.