Poetic Gravestones

How it all started

During my adventures church crawling I began to notice the interesting dedications inscribed on gravestones in the churchyards. These I found fascinating and quickly became interested in. There is such a wide variety and they seem to change over time. I also noticed that already – as is the case with many things – these poems are failing against the test of time and are degrading. In some cases they are entirely unreadable.

The Big Plan

I wanted to try and make a record of all of the poems I came across so I have created a map on which I will be uploading entries as often as I can. I will also feature individual gravestones in detail as part of my blog.

I will upload all the beautiful, quirky, uplifting, funny and interesting poems that I find inscribed on gravestones in memory of people who have died. In time perhaps this record will make good study material to pick out themes across dates and location…but in the meantime it is fun just to plot them on the map.

If you have any interesting poems of your own please send me a message and I will add them to the map too.

Featured Gravestone

Found in the quiet and leafy churchyard of St. Everilda, Nether Poppleton.


“Husband farewell and earthly friends adieu

What in my power I’ve done for you

My debt is paid, securely now I rest

And trust through Jesus’ merits be blest

Weep not for me your sighs and tears are vain

I hope in heaven we all shall meet again”

The headstone is in memory of Jane Bewley, wife of John Bewley of the city of York. She died at the age of 51 on 22 January 1703.

Like many headstones this one is losing out in its battle against time and weather and the bottom row of lettering is becoming illegible.

It is a beautiful poem and captures the love of a woman for her friends and husband before she died. The age of 51 to us seems a very young age to die but historians claim that overall in the eighteenth century the life-expectancy at birth was 35 years of age. This however is an average due to high rates of infant death. If anybody made it past their teenage years they were likely to live into their fifties. Jane was a lady who had seen a lot of death and has inscribed on her tombstone that she hopes to meet her friends in heaven again.

Nether Poppleton, St. Everilda
A view of the exterior of St. Everilda’s church on the south-east side.