Sunday, 14 April 2013

Glasseyes Top 5 Graves

Someone on twitter recently linked me to an article featuring top ten graves, possibly from the Guardian or something similar, and I just had to do my own.
I have decided to do a top 5 and possibly another 5 some time in the future to spread it out abit, the majority of the photographs here are not mine, as I have only photographed one of the graves myself, I would love to visit the US ones for myself. 
Here we go.

5. Jays Grave

The story behind Jay's grave takes place at the turn of the 18th century near Dartmoor in Devon, Jay was an orphan girl taken into a poorhouse as a baby and given the name Mary Jay or Kitty Jay.
She was taken on to work at a farmhouse on the edge of Dartmoor where she fell in love with the farmers son and became pregnant. The farmers son and his family refused her and he denied any involvement, she was turned away from the farm with no where to go. 
With her only prospect returning to the poor house Mary Jay took her only other option and was found hanged in a barn in the surrounding countryside. 
At the time suicides could not be buried on consecrated ground and were buried at crossroads to prevent their soul returning to haunt the living.
Mary 'kitty' Jay was buried at an intersection of a country road and the grave was known as Jays Grave.

Locals say that in the years following her death a figure could be seen on moonlit nights kneeling at her graveside with head in hands. The identity of the figure was never determined but until this day fresh flowers regularly appear on the grave although no one has ever been seen to place them.

The story inspired a song by folk musician Seth Lakeman

4. Julius Beer (1836 - 1880)

I have visited Julius Beers beautiful mausoleum in Highgate Cemetery, London twice now and it really is stunning, Julius Beer was born in Frankfurt to a poor family, he traveled to London to try and make his fortune and dealt on the Stock Exchange, later becoming the proprietor of the Observer Newspaper. Beer felt ostracized by Victorian society for being Jewish and a foreigner, he had his tomb built on the highest point in Highgate so he could be above the people he hadn't felt had accepted him in life.

                                         Photo by John Gay for English Heritage 

The reason this grave has made it onto my list, as well as Beers interesting life, is the beautiful statue inside, which is a memorial to his daughter. The statue depicts his daughter being taken to heaven by an angel, she had died before her father. The statue was done by Hugh H Armstead.
The first time I visited we could only peek through the keyhole to the interior but on my second visit, the guide unlocked it and we could go inside. I have read somewhere that the likeness of Beers daughter in the statue was copied from her death mask.

My Boyfriend took these photos on our visit to Highgate, pics by MessyVignette

The stunning ceiling

                                         Photograph copyright - Evissa 

3. Timothy Clark Smith (1821 - 1893)

Timothy Clark Smith was a Doctor from Vermont who suffered from a fear of being buried alive, there were many stories in the Victorian age of people being buried alive and this must have been a real fear for many people. Before modern advances in medicine it was possible to be pronounced dead and buried whilst merely in a coma.
Timothy died in on Halloween 1893, he had designed his tomb to be built so that a cement tube ran from directly above his face to the surface, with a piece of glass covering the opening, creating a window down to where he lay. This window still remains in Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven. 

it is only possible to see a couple of feet down due to condensation, the condition of the glass and darkness. There are stories, more likely urban legends, from many years ago, where people have claimed to have been able to see Dr Smiths skeletal face through the window. It was also reported that a hammer and chisel were seen next to him, to aid his escape should he wake up. The story goes that he was also buried with a bell to ring should he wake up, I guess we'll never know weather he was really buried with these items or not.

2. Florence Irene Ford (1861 - 1871)

I have posted an entry on this blog about Irene's grave before, but my top ten would not be complete without this beautiful story. I will do a brief recap if you are not familiar with Florence.

Florence died of Yellow Fever aged 10, during her life she was terrified of storms and needed comfort from her mother whenever there was a storm.
When she died her mother was so grief stricken, she couldn't bear the thought of her daughter alone in her grave during the storms she so feared.
She commissioned Florence's coffin to be built with a window at the child's head. The grave was dug with a tiny room at the same depth as the coffin next the head, this little area had steps leading down to it, so that Florence's mother could go down whenever there was a storm and comfort her daughter. To shelter the mother, metal trap doors were put at the top of the flight of stairs. The grave, doors and stairs down still remain in Natchez City Cemetery, Mississippi  but a concrete wall was built to cover the coffin in the 1950's to prevent vandalism.

1. John Garmston Hopkins (1857 - 1871)

Here is another grave I have recently posted about on here, but this is by far my number 1 grave, I think because I'm such a visual person and the photograph mounted into this grave is absolutely beautiful. This is also in a church very close to where I work, in Worcester UK, so I feel even more of a connection to it.
I recently went to photograph it and a little further down my blog you'll find more photographs of it.

When John Garmston Hopkins died aged 14 in Worcester, his father, a Hop Merchant in the city, commissioned a monument to be made including a photograph taken after the boys death which is mounted into the stone beneath thick glass.
The monument stands in the porch at St Johns Bedwardine Church in Worcester, and it a beautiful, tragic memorial to the young boy.


  1. Very interesting graves, I love cemeteries myself.

  2. You may also be interested in this much plainer and a little later memorial near Bristol