Tag Archives: headstones

Picture Postcard Parade: The Church, Singleton

13 Jul

This is another before and after post of sorts. The first image is a postcard of the church at Singleton, Sussex. The postcard was unused, but probably dates from 1910-20.

The Church, Singleton

The image below is not from the same position, but it does illustrate what happened to many of the headstones that were pictured on the postcard.

Singleton Headstones

When I visited the church earlier this year I discovered that most of the older headstones had been re-located and were now lined up along one side of the churchyard. I don’t know when this clearance took place, and there are now more modern burials (and headstones) in their place.

New Headstones

Picture Postcard Parade: Hailsham Church

28 Mar

With my current obsession with the GEERING family of Hailsham, Sussex it was inevitable that my postcard collecting interests would extend to the town of Hailsham before too long.

Hailsham Church

When I saw this wonderful postcard I just had to have it. It was published by Edgar Smith of The Library, Hailsham. It is unused and probably dates from around 1910-20.

Lots of lovely headstones to be seen, I wonder if any of my GEERINGs had a headstone, I know there were at least four buried in the churchyard at St Mary’s, Hailsham.

It reminds me of the description of the town in Pigot’s Sussex Directory of 1828 which singles out the church as the only thing of interest in the town,

The only object deserving of notice in this place is the church, which has a fine square tower, similar to that of East Grinstead; although extreme age may have shorn some of its beauties, still it bears the mark of having been, formerly, a handsome building, and presents an interesting object for the antiquarian.

I have promised myself not to go crazy buying postcards, so I will only be looking for postcards that will help illustrate the story of my ancestors. I would really like to be able to find a postcard of the High Street showing their shop, of course it will be many years after my ancestors had moved on, but it would at least take me back a bit closer to their time.

Are church postcards undervalued?

4 Feb

Evelyn from A Canadian Family left a comment on my post of a postcard of Nuthurst Parish Church. This got me thinking about whether postcards of parish churches are undervalued.

In terms of collecting, postcards of parish churches are probably the cheapest topographical cards that you can buy. There could be several reasons for this, there probably is a greater supply of parish church postcards (because they were once more common), but more than likely it is because churches just don’t seem as interesting as a high street with shops, public houses or Post Offices.

Evelyn is right of course, in many cases they may represent the only surviving images of some headstones. In most cases the inscriptions on the headstones are not readable, but many of the headstones pictured on these cards have disappeared.

Take for example the two images below of St. George’s Church, West Grinstead, Sussex. The first is a postcard published by A.H. Homewood of Burgess Hill, Sussex, it was posted in 1908.

West Grinstead Church 1908

The next image is a photo I took in 2008, and apart from the growth of the trees, in the intervening 100 years the headstones in front of the church have gone.

West Grinstead Church 2008

Sometimes this is from deterioration but sometimes this is through deliberate clearance, to create space for wedding groups to be photographed outside the church. Now of course health and safety also comes into play, with stones toppled in the name of safety.

How different it must have been for our ancestors to walk through rows of gravestones on their way to church services, rather than today where gravestones are dotted around the churchyard.

As a family historian and postcard collector I am happy that parish churches may not be as eagerly collected by others (it means I can afford them), but for me they are also an essential part of my collection and they are probably the only postcards where I can say for certain that “my ancestors were there”.

Picture Postcard Parade: Henfield Church

25 Sep

It is time I started showing you some of my postcard collection again, this is a recent purchase from eBay and shows St. Peter’s Church, Henfield, Sussex.

St Peter's Church, Henfield, Sussex

St Peter's Church, Henfield, Sussex

I love the fact that the photographer had set up his tripod amongst the gravestones. Even on the original card they are slightly out of focus and unreadable, which is a shame because I am sure amongst those headstones is one for John and Mary Ann FAIRS my 3x great grandparents.

There are no clues as to the date, photographer or publisher of this card. I have seen cards with a similar style of caption, it was almost certainly a local publisher, and I would guess it dates from around 1910-20.

The family connection is not only the FAIRS who were buried here, but countless TROWERs who passed through, for baptism, marriage or burial. There is even a record in the churchwarden’s accounts for 1685 of a John TROWER being paid 3s 4d for work done on the Communion table and the bells. John TROWER was almost certainly my 8x great grandfather.

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