The role of churches as historical and archaeological monuments is long recognised but their complex intramural and extramural characters as places of death, burial, commemoration and locales of death heritage and thus education have yet to be fully appreciated and explored. That’s why in August 2021 I reflected on a specific and distinctive relationship between the Churches Conservation Trust and the National Trust in maintaining open to the public the Georgian Gothic church dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, Croome d’Abitot, within the grounds of the National Trust property of Croome Park, Worcestershire.
Describing the well-preserved and well-kept church monuments and churchyard, my earlier post reflected on the untapped potential of these churches as heritage assets for education and engagement with both the human past but also with human mortality. This approach considers the buildings themselves – their internal furnishings and fittings, external yards and components, as well as memorials and tombs, mausolea and graves – as ‘archaeodeath’ environments.
As a result of my post, a rare and welcome thing has occurred – I’ve received positive responses to my blog from local enthusiasts with a passion for Croome in the form of the ‘The Friends of Croome’. They invited me to write up my blog-post for their newsletter and here it is, published in issue 30 for the spring of 2023.
You can read my contribution, shared with permission, below. It is but one more example of how my Archaeodeath blog has slowly established itself as a reliable ‘go-to’ place for reflections on the archaeology and heritage of death and memory.
Archaeodeath is becoming the talk of the tomb!
I do believe the approach I advocate has far-reaching implications regarding how active and redundant places of worship are considered as places of spiritual and personal reflection as well as learning about history and mortality in the 21st century.