TAKE A LOOK AT... (in Derbyshire)

This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 23rd September 2002 (p15), reproduced by kind permission of its author, Julie Bunting.


We have a fascinating variety of memorials and shrines here in the Peak. They commemorate people from all walks of life: a comedian whose death was not at all funny, people who met violent deaths, girls who didn't live long enough to get married, a Spanish governess, the sister of a world famous President and a very spooky-looking family.

The comedian's name was John Kane and he was actor/manager at Buxton Opera House. Kane, an Irishman, died in agony in 1799 after eating deadly hemlock roots in mistake for horse-radish. He is buried in St Anne's graveyard at Buxton; his gravestone was erected over his feet instead of his head.

Foul play accounts for the so-called Murder Stone which stands on the roadside between Disley and Whaley Bridge. It reads:

William Wood
Eyam Derbyshire
16th July
AD. 1823
Prepare to meet thy God

William Wood, aged 30, had sold some cloth in Manchester and was returning home with the very considerable sum of £70. He was waylaid by three young men who battered him to death and stole his money. William's body was still warm when it was found and two of the murderers were caught fairly easily. One was executed and the other died after trying to commit suicide but the third man was never caught.

Another simple stone memorial stands in Hall Leys Park at Matlock. It was erected in memory of a policeman who drowned close to the spot in 1911 while trying to save a young woman who had jumped into the river Derwent.

The graves of a family who died of the plague in 1632 lie near to a bridleway below Curbar Edge. The five recumbent slabs are carved with the initials of Thomas Cundy, his wife Ada, and their children, Olive, Nellie and Thomas, whose family home was nearby Grislowfields Farm.

On Gardom's Edge are the Three Men, a row of stone cairns commemorating three travellers who perished up here in a blizzard. One story tells that they were clergymen returning home this way after attending a funeral, while a different tale insists that the three unfortunate travellers were a packhorse man and his two sons.

The Lost Lad is a single cairn near Back Tor in the Upper Derwent Valley. It commemorates a shepherd boy who died after getting lost while searching for his sheep on the moors in a blinding snowstorm. The memorial cairn was gradually built up over a period of many years by passing shepherds.

A number of young unmarried women have Maidens' Garlands as their memorials. Such garlands were generally made from a bell-shaped frame of willow, decorated with ribbons, flowers and rosettes made from folded and crimped paper. They were made by friends and relations to be carried at the funerals of young unmarried women who died about 200 years ago. These Maidens' Garlands, also known as crants or crantsies, were once fairly commonplace in churches around the Peak but tended to get thrown away as they became dusty and discoloured. You can still see examples in the churches of Ilam, Ashford and Matlock St Giles.


Many local churches have a memorial or two which are a little out of the ordinary. Youlgreave church, for instance, has a beautifully carved effigy of a miniature knight in full armour. This is the monument of Thomas Cokayne, killed not in battle but during a quarrel on his way to church in 1488. Etiquette demanded a half-size effigy because he died before his father.

Edensor church contains a memorial window to Lord Frederick Cavendish, son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire. Lord Frederick was assassinated shortly after arriving in Dublin in 1882. A quarter of a million mourners attended his funeral at Chatsworth and Queen Victoria sent a circle of everlasting flowers which is preserved in the church. Edensor churchyard contains the grave of Kathleen Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy of the United States. Kathleen was the widow of 'Billy' Hartington, son and heir of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. Billy was killed in the Second World War and Kathleen died in an air crash in 1948. A plaque by her grave commemorates a visit made by President Kennedy just a few months before his assassination.

Fenny Bentley church has one of the spookiest monuments in the Peak. It represents Thomas and Agnes Beresford lying on their tomb, tightly wrapped in burial shrouds from their toes to the tops of the heads. Their faces and hands are completely covered. The couple's 21 children are portrayed around the tomb, shrouded like their parents.

Two outdoor memorial shrines stand about a mile apart on either side of Errwood Reservoir. One contains a picture of the Madonna and Child and is set into a stone wall close to the Long Hill stretch of the A5002. The other shrine is a tiny circular chapel behind the ruins of Errwood Hall. The once magificent hall was the home of the Grimshawe family, who built the chapel in memory of their much-loved Spanish companion and governess, Miss Dolores de Bergria, who died at Lourdes in 1899.

The last few words on this selection of memorials come from a small 17th-century brass plaque in Bakewell church: ‘No epitaph nede make the just man famde, The good are praysed when theyr only nam'd’.

© Julie Bunting
From "The Peak Advertiser", 23rd September 2002.

Articles by Julie Bunting are reproduced with her kind permission.

This is a Genealogy Website
URL of this page: https://texts.wishful-thinking.org.uk/TakeaLook/Memorials.html
Logo by courtesy of the Open Clip Art Library