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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I know this is a long time after your post but you may still see it...I was a chorister at St John's Church and at that time this gravestone was still in the grounds. Well we had choir practice every Thursday evening and halfway through we were allowed out to burn some energy off. Some of us used to scare ourselves with this picture because we would walk right up to it stand in front and then walk backwards all the time looking at his closed eye until you just get to the right position..there are chips on the glass and it makes it look like he suddenly opened his eye..we ran off giggling...well that's how I remember it now I'm nearly 50!