I have a forthcoming co-authored book chapter in The Routledge Handbook of Memory and Place about the complex and evolving ways in which the cremated dead are incorporated, and serve to revitalise, English and Welsh churchyards. It is a theme I explore on the MA Archaeology of Death and Memory. It is a theme I’ve pursued on this blog too, as in here for Pennant Melangell, and also here for Bangor is y Coed.
Here I’d like to reflect on another example of how gardens of remembrance and concentrated jigsaws of cremation memorials are integrated into corners and borders in West Kirby churchyard.
On a recent trip with second-year students to the West Kirby Museum and to view the hogback in the parish church, I got to briefly consider the churchyard. Around, and close to the church, cremation memorials occur in three areas.
First, there is a garden of remembrance in the border up against the east end of the church, associated with flowers and a memorial bench There is a large plaque dedicating the garden of remembrance to the memory of an honorary canon of Chester Cathedral and his wife.
Second, by the north gate, is a further patch of three- and four-deep memorials up against the eastern churchyard wall. A central plaque afixed to the wall explains the significance of the area.
Third, in the eastern part of the churchyard beside the war memorial, is a flower holder that frames a garden of remembrance comprised of empty spaces between 19th-century graves.
So we see a multi-locale accumulating use of late 20th-/early 21st-century cremation memorials integrated with the 19th-century memorials and churchyard boundaries, bringing the dead back to the otherwise full churchyard facilitated by cremation technologies and burial practices. The church itself, the war memorial and the churchyard boundaries are repurposed and revitalised as a result.