One of the great joys of the work is that you never know what you are going to find when you walk through the gate. I still get a buzz of excitement when we arrive at a new venue and Claire turns left and I turn right. We have a strange tradition that we go "beep, beep, beep" when we find a grave of interest - providing of course the other person is in ear-shot!
Just under half the time we don't find anything worth recording. This usually happens when there are only a handful of memorials in the churchyard. By far the largest site where we didn't find anybody who reached the age of 100 was Shire Lodge Cemetery in Corby.
Sometimes we are left puzzled, almost annoyed, by inscriptions that lack important details. It is not unknown for the surname of the deceased to not appear on the memorial and I well recall one stone that didn't included any of the names of the deceased just "Mum and Dad"! Almost as strange are the patterned stones with gold inscriptions that are unreadable within a very few years of being erected.
You might think that once we had examined over 4,100,000 graves we would be immune to getting the proverbial "lump in the throat". Absolutely not the case. It is not always the graves of babies that have a strongest emotional impact. For me it was twin grave of Daphne Joan Stokes and Peter William Stokes that was the saddest of them all.
Daphne Joan Stokes and Peter William Stokes were killed during an unauthorised flight at RAF High Ercall in August 1943. Their young son, also called Peter, was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Hove, who forever mourned the loss of her beautiful daughter.
A new book for grave hunters everywhere!
The authors have viewed millions of gravestones, and are offering readers a selection of the rare and unusual gravestones that they have seen, with full-colour illustrations. Each category of type of gravestone, age of person, cause of death, rare names, and errors found on gravestones are given a points score to indicate rarity.
All my new discoveries are published first on the social history group on Facebook so if you want to keep up to date with what is happening you will need to subscribe to the group by clicking on the link below.