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The Belfry's Memorials

I’m not specially a fan of church memorials – why should someone continue to impose his/her name on the congregation centuries after they have departed this world? Nevertheless they exist and have to be preserved from one generation to another by the church wardens.

There are quite a few memorials in the main church body and quite naturally these are visible to all. But up in the ringing chamber are several others, which the bellringers see every week but are otherwise visible only on special occasions. These date from the late 18th and early 19th century and pre-date the deep gloom and gothic style of the Victorian period. In fact they are quite ornate and pleasing to the eye. Of course they were not originally placed in the belfry and have probably been moved there because there was some vacant wall space. They are also interesting because they generally use the old-fashioned “ f“ shape to represent an “s”, except in double-s or end-of-word cases. Thus “possessed” is actually written “pofsefsed”.

Among them, there are three memorials for the Nash family, each of them rather effusive as to the characteristics of the deceased. For instance this gentleman was presumably the founder of the clan:

Memorial to William NashIn Memory of William Nash Esqr late of Dulwich in the County of Surrey who departed this life the 24th of October 1811 Aged 73. The uniform tenor of whose conduct was   invariably marked by the utmost Integrity and Honor; who in every situation either in the busy scenes of life, or in the more private state of retirement proved himself a pattern worthy of imitation possessed of a heart feelingly alive to the numerous distresses of his fellow Creatures, his greatest happiness consisted in alleviating their sorrows, soothing their grief and administering to their comfort.

On the opposite wall is the memorial seen in the centre photograph. It repeats the style so is probably in memory of the above William Nash’s daughter-in-law and son. It contains a rather nice little poem. I have googled Salters Hall, which is mentioned below, and of course it’s the home of the Worshipful Company of Salters, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London.

Memorial to Sarah NashIn a Vault Near this Place are interred the last remains of Mrs Sarah Nash the wife of Mr John Nash Esqr who departed this Life July the 21st 1814 Aged 43 Years.

A tender Mother Wife and faithful Friend lye here
 Stop Traveller ... And drop the passing Tear
 In no assuming Worth, no Merit of her own
  Her humble Trust was placed; in God alone.

Also John Nash Esqr formerly of Salters Hall London many years an Inhabitant of this Town and a liberal Benefactor to the Poor. He was born the 15th of October 1759, died the 12th of October 1819.

For the third memorial I have used the real f symbol as engraved. Predating the above Sarah Nash by a year is her son. Child death was no stranger to the inhabitants of this time as can be seen from the older parish magazines. But to those of us who have lost an infant child, the poem below stirs wistful emotions.

Memorial to Edward NashEdward Nash, Son of John Nash Esqr and Sarah his Wife, was born on the 21st of May 1804, and died on the 15th of April 1813, Aged near Nine years, to the inexpressible Grief of his disconsolate Parents.

Of Manners lovely, and Affections mild
 Graceful in Perfon, Simplicity’s fweet Child,
 In Underftanding quick, in talents bright,
 A lucid Star, amid the Clouds of Night,
 In youthful Folly’s gay and fportive Hour,
 He laughed, he danced, he fung. This Flower,
 Snatched by Death’s blighting and unerring dart,
 Endeared, beloved, by all. Is gone ‘Tis hard to part.

P.S. If anyone knows any more about the Nash family, please let me know.

Steve Smith (July 2019) 

Note that the symbol used on this page to represent the old style s is a modern f.


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