What with all the celebrations around the birth of the royal baby, this gravestone in Draycott St Margaret’s makes sober reading.
If you walk up the path to the church door, you’ll see this gravestone on the left of you.
The inscription on this old tomb is fading, but if you get up close, it tells you that this is the grave of “Jane, daughter of Sampson & Eliza Bagnall”. It says she died in 1804 aged just three months.
But, worse is to come. The grave also holds: John, died 1809 aged just two months, and another John in 1811, aged just three months. In other words, the grave holds three babies.
How sorrowful Sampson and Eliza must have been!
Even the Victorians, who lived in an era of improving medicine, did not expect their children to live long. Some estimates say that a huge forty per cent of children died before reaching fifteen years, and many died much younger.
It goes without saying that we now expect Prince George to have a much longer life, and that his parents will not have to grieve as often as our Victorian ancestors.
Incidentally, the memorial & grave inscriptions on the old graves at St Margaret’s were copied down and collected in the early 1980s by the Draycott Women’s Institute. (The booklet was updated in 1988 for the modern graveyard). They also mapped the churchyard.
The booklet indexes by family name as well as location.
If you are interested, there are copies of the booklet at The William Salt Library in Stafford and at Blythe Bridge Library.
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