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Staring Into The Face of Death

It’s not on display any more, but one of my favourite objects in The British Museum is Napoleon’s death mask. Death masks were often used in an era before photography was widespread and captured likenesses which were used in sculpting busts of the decased post mortem. John Constable’s is on display at the Royal Academy […]

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A Magnificent Erection

Catarina Orduña Pérez decided to be commemorated under a truly unique memorial. Pushing what is considered an acceptable form of remembrance in a public space of mourning, 99-year-old Catarina and her family decided only one thing would represent her life and values – not a traditional headstone, but a five foot tall penis, complete with […]

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Bones Beneath a Bishop’s Palace

A Victorian dog and his master A pleasant fifteen minute amble from Parsons Green station, Fulham Palace and its gardens is managed by a charitable trust. In continual possession of the Church of England since AD 704 (when Bishop Waldhere acquired the Manor of Fulham) it is a scheduled ancient monument – which gives it […]

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The Lions of London, Part 1

A marker to the dead can take many forms. A simple slab. A towering obelisk. A niche in a wall. Or as a ruddy great lion. Lions in cemeteries – not actual lions, although wouldn’t that be something – exist in funerary sculpture and are almost as impressive as seeing the real thing. There are […]

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Stumbling Stones

 My foot scuffed something. I was walking down the Kloveniersburgwal in Amsterdam in 2018 when something slightly tripped me over. I looked down and saw something shiny embedded into the pavement. There were small plaques, which stood slightly proud from the brickwork. They resembled brass beer coasters, so I knelt down for a closer look. […]

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Six Olympians From the Past

Despite the setbacks of happening in the middle of a global pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics of 2021 has already seen an impressive haul of medals for Team GB: as of current time of writing we have thirteen golds, sixteen silvers and thirteen bronze medals, placing as sixth overall out of two hundred and six nations. […]

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Fantasy Coffins

Ga culture, in south-east Ghana, has a brilliant way of remembering the lives of those they’ve lost. Coffins in all kinds of shapes. Lions. Snakes. Chilli peppers. Aeroplanes. Coca cola bottles. For the Ga people, these stylish, personalised coffins are a rite of passage for anyone who dies in the local community. Ga, or fantasy […]

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Young Sheldon

Whenever I start researching a cemetery, I always start by looking for a name. My own. Hopefully that won’t be interpreted by you as arrogance. My forename isn’t very common – I’ve only met two other Sheldon’s in my time: one a distant cousin and the other at a party donkey’s years ago. I am […]

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