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Heritage Open Days: Memorial Symbolism
Join Dr James Moir, Rectory Lane Cemetery’s Project Manager, in a tour of memorials whose symbols illustrate a surprising cultural diversity for a Hertfordshire market town.
This tour will explore memorials in the Cemetery which represent one of its most extraordinary features – despite being a formal, apparently straightforward Church of England burial ground, with obvious Christian references, it is also a microcosm of the remarkable cultural diversity and huge range of influences that have shaped our characters and communities.
Our perception of the past is generally biased towards thinking that cultural horizons were narrower, that communities were ‘contained’ and inward looking. Also, that graveyards tend to be full of morbid, funereal sentiments – with skull and cross-bones, hour glasses etc.
But this cemetery was first discussed in the year Queen Victoria came to the throne, and was opened in 1842. When you really look at and assess the memorials in this place, a much more complex picture emerges.
Through an examination of a handful of gravestones and the symbols and epitaphs they portray, and the music and literature they refer to, the tour will demonstrate a wholly different perspective, fundamentally challenging these rigidly ingrained perceptions and stereotypes.