Sunday, 3 March 2013

A terrible image

I started a new job in January, in StJohns, Worcester and I've actually become quite fond of StJohns, its nothing special at all, but there's something about it.
While I was researching for my dissertation a few years ago I came across a reference to a very unusual monument in StJohns church that I have been meaning to go and look for for the past 3 years and now I work down the road from the church I really have no excuse!

I wasn't even sure it would still be there, as I couldn't find much about it online, but I went to have a look, and there it was in the porch of the church and it took my breath away, it's absolutely stunning.
The monument is to the two sons of Thomas Hopkins, a hop merchant in the city, his eldest son John died in January 1871.
Thomas Hopkins had the monument made to include a photograph of the dead boy, aged 14 when he died, the photograph was taken by Francis Charles Earl of Worcester Broad Street, the image is large, 6 by 13 inches and is set in a monument with stone angels and a plaque to John and his younger brother Jonathon who died a few years after John at the age of 2.

I am currently reading the fantastic book 'The English Way of Death' by Julian Litten and the book includes a little bit about the image and he describes it beautifully

"Although he was obviously placed carefully on the sofa, the freshly pomaded hair is awry and could have benefited from a comb prior to being photographed. It is a terrible image, the child so patently dead and cold. Yet perhaps Thomas Hopkins and his wife took some solace in so commemorating the death of their eldest son" 

I photographed the monument and almost didn't want to leave afterwards, it really is so beautiful and completely heartbreaking.