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Our final resting places are often a matter of circumstance, history, and almost arbitrary geography. So it was for my father, whose grave we visited yesterday, featuring it on my post. Having, apart from his war years in France, spent the majority of his life in and around Wimbledon where he was born, Dad retired to the village of Horndean in East Hampshire, expecting to spend his retirement there. It was not to be long before his death, leaving my mother to spend the next thirty years alone. She will be 95 in two days time.
Although she now lives in West End near my sister, Elizabeth, Mum has booked her place to join him when the time comes, as she first did in the early 1940s.
A short distance from my parents’ then home lies Catherington Cemetery which opened in 1966, in time to receive my father’s body 21 years later. It is managed by East Hampshire Council.
Tim Lambert, in http://www.localhistories.org/catherington.html gives us the following information: ‘During the Middle Ages Catherington was a small and isolated village. It stood in the Forest of Bere. That was a great forest that stretched from the border of Hampshire to Winchester. At that time Waterlooville and Cowplain did not exist. Catherington must have been a very quiet and secluded place [which developed slowly until] in 1901 its population was only a little over 1,300. Meanwhile Catherington Church of All Saints was rebuilt in 1883 by the architect Edmund Ferrey (1845-1900).’ Villagers now number around 4,000.
As I wrote yesterday this public cemetery stands next to that of All Saints Parish Church, which has its origins in Saxon and Norman times. Currently the church is undergoing repairs to the drains and the roof. The tombs of Admirals Sir Charles Napier and Sir Christopher Cradock in company with that of the actor Edmund Kean are among the residents of this plot.
Whereas the graves of those in the modern cemetery are laid out in straight, upright, rows, those in the churchyard are the more familiar lurching, lichen covered relics giving rise to the unfortunate description
I do not wish to be disrespectful. These stones may well continue to defy gravity for many years to come.
We explored the inside of the rather splendid little building, the Norman nave of which has been encased by Ferrey’s additions;
but, apart from the extensive list of incumbents, have been unable to trace historical documentation supporting the claim that the original church dates from the twelfth century. Wooden information boards at the back of the church state that the wooden Saxon building was replaced in the 1180s.
Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our dinner this evening.