All Hallows’ Monumental Inscriptions

The headstones in All Hallows’ graveyard have suffered appallingly from pollution over the last century or so — I hadn’t realised quite how much until I paid it a visit last year to try and find the grave of a New Zealand correspondent’s ancestors, and discovered that virtually no pre-nineteenth century inscriptions have survived. All the early headstones seem to have been cut and carved from the same material — a variety of sandstone, I believe, although I’m no expert; whatever it is, it has undergone a severe chemical reaction to the muck floating around in our atmosphere, with the result that the faces of the gravestones have simply crumbled away, and almost nothing remains to be read.

We therefore owe an enormous debt of gratitude to one Frederick Teague Cansick, a Victorian antiquary, who spent several years recording the monumental inscriptions of Middlesex churches, Tottenham’s included (although he makes the curious error of referring to All Hallows’ as All Saints’), and published his transcriptions in 1875. He recorded 39 inscriptions in the church itself, and 43 from the churchyard. The latter figure seems rather small, and suggests that he did not, therefore, record every gravestone. However, it may have been that even by Cansick’s time the inscriptions on the gravestones were already in poor condition; he was clearly unable to decipher parts of some of those he recorded, and on two only the forenames appear to have survived — ‘Clara’ and ‘Louisa Alice’. It would also seem from pictorial evidence that a number of early monuments, in particular some large ‘table’ tombs to the south of the church, had in any case been removed by the Victorian period.

By contrast, the memorials in the church itself are in an excellent state of preservation, and several are very impressive; the Barkham monument in particular is very fine indeed.

All coding and original material © Michael Bruff 2001