The Last Of The Cemeteries Project

I experienced another of what I now recognise to be barometric pressure headaches through the night and morning, so the first part of the day was a washout.

After lunch and a doze through an Antiques Road Trip recording I perked up enough to watch the Wimbledon women’s singles final between Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova, and employ my scanner to produce images, first of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations to my Folio Society edition of David Copperfield, and subsequently of the last few slides from my cemeteries project.

First the memorable drawings:

‘An ugly old man rushed out and seized me by the hair of my head’

‘I beheld Miss Murdstone, on a side-saddle, ride deliberately over the sacred piece of green, and stop in front of the house’. As always, this portrait is faithful to one featured earlier in the book.

Keeping’s particular mastery of perspective is demonstrated in ‘He stood at the pony’s head, looking up at us in the chaise’

‘We found Annie lying on the hall floor’ displays the artist’s flowing lines.

‘It was Mr Micawber!’

Now the memorials found in Tower Hamlets Cemetery in March 2009:

The third image shows a pigeon perched atop the Cowderoy gravestone; the fifth displays an example of the genealogical research that has enabled symbols of family trees for those stones that have succumbed to time’s erosion. Bigification by accessing the gallery with a click is recommended.

This evening we dined on tasty lasagna garnished with basil and plentiful fresh salad with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.


  1. Yikes! When Dickens said “ugly old man,” Keeping wasn’t just fooling around with his depiction.

    It was quite a coincidence to see the title of your post come across my email just now. My husband drove six hours north to Presque Isle, Maine to check on my parents’ headstone. Right before the pandemic hit, we’d paid to have it cleaned.

    1. Very surprised to see Presque Isle, Maine, mentioned in Derrick’s blog. My mother’s family is from that area—North Caribou—and I live about six hours south. Small world!

  2. I’m glad that your feeling better, Derrick. When I was young, my friends and I would occasionally go to a cemetery after dark and drink beer – weird!

  3. Brilliant drawings by Keeping–he makes you feel and hear what’s going on.
    That pigeon perched on the headstone is spooky. ?

    Those headaches are not fun. I hope you’re feeling better.

  4. So glad you are feeling better now, Derrick. Let’s hope the weather is better for us all in the coming weeks.
    You are right about the perspective in that image – such a talent; Keeping really draws the reader in with his work – and the rich human element behind it. Thank you for sharing these wonderful drawings.

  5. Keeping is a master at depicting ugliness — and enhancing it where hints of it might appear! The prostrate Annie is my favorite. I can’t decide if she’s on fire, or dissolving.

  6. Ugh…I used to experience barometric headaches too, Derrick. I always said my head was like a giant barometer. After I started to take magnesium supplements, they disappeared. I hope you feel better!

  7. I like the cemetery in sun-dappled black & white; it fits the mood of time swallowing the sleeping residents, slowly erasing their village. I wonder what it looks like now?

  8. Barometric pressure affects me more and more as I get older. At least we know it’s temporary. I’m glad you perked up and hope you feel better tomorrow.

  9. Some of the illustrations in this set are highly emotional, such as the ugly old man who is portrayed in much more detail than his victim and ‘Annie lying on the hall floor’ with her head towards the bottom of the page, practically upside down, which amplifies the impression of tragedy. The others are more static, demonstrating Keeping’s trademark characterization.
    Very interesting black and white cemetery photos, Derrick.

  10. I have several ancestors buried in Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford. Volunteers there are hard at work unearthing long overgrown headstones. On their Facebook group page I have been supplying them a potted history of the people I’ve researched (when I have time to type it out and answer the comments). I believe they find such feedback reward for their immense efforts, and that the buried people are still remembered, and brought to “life” metaphorically speaking.
    We sat up to watch Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova. Got to bed at 1.30am, thinking, since we are in lockdown and can only leave the house for restricted purposes, that we could sleep it off this morning. Yeah … no. There might be Poppy naps in order this afternoon. I wonder how the two competitors will be feeling when they wake up this morning. A great effort on both their parts.

      1. Poor Pliskova got off to a nervous start, but it would have been enormous strain on Barty, I think, if she had sailed through the contest making point after point as she did at the outset (14?). You’d go on to every other match being compared to that effort.

  11. Riveting illustrations by Keeping intensify the effects intended by the author. Last of the cemeteries project contains no less thought provoking memorial stones.

  12. I do enjoy wandering around a cemetery and reading headstones.
    Our village cemetery is owned and managed by the parish council and is beautifully maintained.

  13. The picture of the old man with his wild eyes is really frightful. It reminds me of the illustrations of the man-eating cyclops in Quentin Blake’s The Seven Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor. I like your pictures of the cemetery. I have very few such pictures because my son believes it is disrespectful to the dead to take pictures of graveyards and graves.

  14. Hi Derrick, I particularly am fond of the family tree headstone. Although not easy to read it appears to have the branches of the tree going back 7 generations. I have seen this occasionally on other genealogy websites. Mick wants it on his headstone. Not that he is going anywhere anytime soon. He also suffers awful headaches. Gets an injection into the area every now and then.
    Hope you and Jackie are keeping well.

    1. We are, Gay. I hope you are not too badly affected by lockdowns. The barometric pressure headaches are new to me – must be age or more changes in the weather. Thanks very much.

  15. Hello Derrick! I always enjoy your posts. When I’m catching up on blog reading yours is the first I go to?
    I’ve always been fascinated by cemeteries. In Japan they are very different. I like our Western way of planting headstones with inscriptions. This was a fun post!

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