Sunlit Graveyards

As another group activity for R. I. P., Carl has invited people to write this week about graveyards–no particular focus, just whatever strikes you.  Technically it’s supposed to be tomorrow, but I’m posting a day early so I can keep with my regular Wednesday-book-review schedule.

I’m probably going to have a bit of a different post than most on this subject, because I tend not to think of the creepy side of graveyards.  I think this is a product of not reading horror books, and of reading L. M. Montgomery instead.  I don’t read about scary ghosts and Things From the Crypt and skeleton hands reaching out of graves–and I don’t watch those movies either.  But I do read L. M. Montgomery books, where families and towns have their local graveyards and it’s quite a personal thing where everyone’s ancestors are buried.  Funerals are social occasions and graveyards are a pleasant place to spend a sunny afternoon.

In the Emily of New Moon books, the Murrays have their own graveyard on New Moon property, and Emily loves going to sit on the slabs and write, and to think about all the family stories about the ancestral Murrays.  In the TV show, Emily sees the ghosts of the Murrays in the graveyard–not unlike The Graveyard Book, actually.  And it was either Anne (of Green Gables) or Montgomery herself who liked walking around a graveyard across from where she was lodging while at school.  I can’t remember if it was in a novel or her journal–maybe both.

I love that attitude toward graveyards.  Unless you’re trying to tell a ghost story, why should they be creepy anyway?  Often they’re very park-like, and the old ones especially are so beautiful and full of history.

I suppose my favorite graveyard is Westminster Abbey, if that qualifies.  You can’t walk without stepping on the memorial of someone whose name you recognize–from Charles Darwin to Oliver Cromwell to Henry V to Elizabeth I to Charles Dickens.  The list is staggering.  What a community of ghosts that would make!

Ooooh…I may need to write a story!

I once had the best time rambling around a graveyard with a friend one afternoon.  There was nothing creepy or morbid about it, we were just looking at the stones and the history.  And we did manage to stumble on a funny story.

In one area, there was a section of graves of Jesuit priests.  All the headstones had their names in Latin, which seemed to mean they were recognizable names with “us” at the end–Edwardus and so on.  Well, the very last one in the row must have been named Hilary (it can be a man’s name) which means what his stone actually read was…Hilarius!  I sincerely hope he had a sense of humor.

I think I’ll leave it on that funny note about graveyards.  🙂  Do you have any good graveyard stories or experiences, creepy or sunlit?

16 thoughts on “Sunlit Graveyards

  1. I’m so glad to hear that you find graveyards peaceful because so do I. I think they are wonderful places to walk around, and I find looking at the names and details on the gravestones really intriguing. Having an unsual surname myself I’m always on the look out for it too! I’m not sure why people find graveyards so scary, in fact they are probably the safest place to be. The dead can’t hurt you its the living you want to be worried about.

  2. ocdreader

    I definitely enjoy rambling around graveyards, they are usually pretty quiet, serene and lovely – and I love your story! Too funny 🙂

  3. Wow, Westminster Abbey – definitely some great tales could be told it’s resident ghosts!
    Surprisingly, even though I do like to look round graveyards I have no scary stories – I think the worst thing that ever happened to me in a graveyard was being stung by nettles!
    Lynn 😀

  4. L

    hilarius! awesome.

    I am fascinate by epigraphs. Jesse Ball in ‘THE CURFEW’ has a character who writes them, consulting with people and whatnot…

    anyway, Westminister Abbey ‘The Graveyard Book’ style would translate into an interesting book club meet between historical figures wouldn’t it? they would probably have to implement a no-political-discussions rule…

    great post

      1. I think it was you that told me to read them. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure. Or maybe you said that they were some of your faves. Anyhoos, I have them now.

  5. I mentioned this dual-nature of graveyards, the creepy and the beautiful, in my post today and although more often I think of the creepy when thinking of them I do have many memories, thoughts and feelings on the positive side for them as well. I do think they are profoundly beautiful places, especially the older ones that speak so well of history and the passage of time. Graveyards like that become places where people take walks, where they quietly reflect on life–their and others–and where they stay connected with people that they have lost. Well kept, park-like graveyards are certainly beautiful but I find the old unkempt ones have a beauty as well. And the history revealed in graveyards is just fascinating. I’m reminded of the opening parts of Bill Bryson’s book, At Home, where he talks of all the people who’ve died on the land around his home in England and about the centuries upon centuries of history that represents. It is mind-blowing to consider.

    Great post, I’m so glad you participated. Please be sure to put your link up over in my post.

  6. dianem57

    I like your positive take on graveyards. I agree completely that they are very park-like and full of history! They are good spots for finding peace and quiet in a busy, loud world.

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