Harry Mills, who was better known as Brusher Mills, lived in an illegal shack in the New
Forest for almost 30 years, actually the shack burned down just one day before the 30 years required to claim the home and land upon which it stood under ancient forest law. He was known as Brusher simply because of the meticulous way in which he brushed the village cricket pitch. His main occupation however, was that of snake catcher and he is credited with having killed a total of 3,186 New Forest adders, which he sold to London Zoo as live feed for the larger snakes.
Mills was buried in the old churchyard just outside the village where a very fine marble stone marks his grave. The stone depicts a carving of Mills near his shack and several snakes.
Too much small beer
A gravestone in the graveyard at Winchester Cathedral records the unusual death of a soldier :
‘ In memory of THOMAS THETCHER,
A Grenadier in the North Regt. Of Hants. Militia,
Who died of a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small beer when hot
the 12th of May 1764, Aged 26 years.
In grateful remembrance of whole univerfal good will towards his comrades,
This stone is placed here at their expence, as a fmall teftimony
of their regard and concern.
Here fleeps in peace a Hampfhire Grenadier
Who caught his death by drinking fmall Beer.
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye’re hot drink Strong or none at all.’
This memorial being decay’d was reftor’d by the Officers and the Garrifon A.D 1781.
An honeft Soldier never is forgot
Whether he die by Mufket or by Pot.
The stone was replaced in 1802 and again in 1966.
Danish soldiers memorial
An epitaph on the outisde wall of St Mary's Church at Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire, tells a sad tale of the death of two Danish soldiers who were passing through the town in 1689 on their way to Ireland to support the army of King James 11. It tells its own story
‘Here two young Danish soldiers lye,
The one in quarrel chanc’d to die.
The other’s head by their own law,
With sword was fever’d at one blow.
December 23d 1689.’
This stone, which is situated in a remote spot on the edge of woodland behind Earl’s Cross House to the east of Dornoch, is supposed to mark the grave of a cholera victim. The body was brought to Dornoch in 1832 for burial but was refused entry by guards and was buried near the memorial this stone instead. Such was the stigma of the disease that his son wrote a denial on the stone :
over the remains
of his dutiful Father
K.R who departed this
life July 24 1832 aged 44
years. It was then suppo
sed he died of cholera
but afterwards contra
dicted by most eminent
The Guinea Graves
In 1845 Leeds Corporation opened what was one of the first Municipal Cemeteries in the country. Built in open land in what is now Beckett Street, the cemetery was divided into Anglican and Non-Conformist areas.
In the 1880’s the Corporation introduced what became known as ‘Guinea Graves’. They were mass common graves where people could have their details engraved on a common headstone with numerous names of unrelated people on both the back and the front of the stone. This meant that people who could not afford their own grave could avoid a pauper’s burial by ‘sharing’ a grave and headstone with other unrelated people at a cost of just 21 shillings.
A witches epitaph
Margaret Harper of Seaton Ross in
Yorkshire was accused of witchcraft and suffered the ultimate
penalty, but not before she had written her own epitaph, which can still be
seen on her weather worn gravestone in the churchyard at Seaton Ross :
‘ The faults you’ve seen in me strive to avoid.
Search your own hearts and you’ll be well employed.’
A prodigy of nature
Daniel Lambert was only 39 years old when he died in 1809 and he was buried in the graveyard of
and the epitaph on his gravestone reads : Lincolnshire
‘ In remembrance of that Prodigy of Nature, Daniel Lambert, a native of
who was possessed of an exalted and convivial mind
and in personal greatness had no competitor.
He measured 3ft round the leg, 9ft 4ins round the body and weighed 52 stones 11 lbs.
He departed this life on
21st June 1809 aged 39
As a testimony of Respect this stone is erected by his friends in
Lambert was the keeper of Leicester Prison. Apparently he was very fond of a wager and often boasted that he could beat any fit man in a race, provided he had the right to choose the course. The course he always chose was a long narrow passage. A portrait of Lambert can be seen hanging in the
Hotel . Stamford
Grave of Stones
An unusual gravestone in Beckett Street Cemetery, Leeds 9, is just a pile of stones. It commemorates Mary STONES who died in 1876 aged 80 years.
I suppose the pile of stones was intentional?
Buried above ground
John Hollins from Stroud in Gloucestershire had an argument with a former friend who announced publicly that he hope to live long enough to see Hollins ‘safe underground’. Hollins did indeed die first, but to thwart his adversary, he left instructions that he should not be buried underground but that his coffin should be left on the surface and covered with a pile of stones. The grave and tiered pile of stones can still be seen in St Lawrence’s churchyard at Stroud.
Anthony Ettricke was an eminent barrister in the small town of Wimborne Minster in Dorset in the 17th century. It is said that as he grew older, he became ‘humerous, phlegmatic and credulous.’ Because he fell out with the inhabitants of the town, Ettricke made a solemn vow that he ‘would never be buried within the church or without it, neither below the ground nor above it.’ However, he lived to regret his vow and managed to obtain permission to make a recess in the wall of the Minster for his coffin. He was convinced that he would die in 1693 and had this date inscribed on a colourful black coffin, but in fact he died in 1703. His coffin can still be seen in its recess in Wimborne Minster and the change of date is clear for all to see.