At the March meeting of the Swindon Society guests Duncan and Mandy Ball urged us all to take photographs, lots of them. Their talk was entitled 'They didn't tell us they were knocking it down' and began with an intriguing set of photographs of piles of rubble. A salutary lesson in taking photos of buildings that sometimes have a lifespan of less than fifty years and quickly become history.
The couple's hobby began when they set about photographing the churches where their own family members had been married, brought their children to be christened and eventually were buried in the churchyard. Then they began to travel around Wiltshire taking photographs of local buildings, monuments and in particular churches, memorials and gravestones. In 1999 they built a small website to upload their photos to share with other people researching their own family history. And like Topsy the website grew and grew and grew and today comprises 2,336 pages with more than 36,000 photos.
Along with the photos of buildings past and present, Duncan and Mandy showed us gravestones to which they had made a return visit. Some they had photographed just a couple of years ago were already so weathered that the inscriptions were lost.
The message that came across loud and clear was get out there and take some photos - which is exactly what I did this week. I returned to St Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze and instead of looking up and around, I looked down and found some fascinating features I'd not noticed before.
But just to emphasise the point, here are some gravestones where it is impossible to get even a glimpse of any inscription.
Over the years gravestones have been used to patch and repair the footpath
Including one marking the death of John Jeremiah St John, the infant son of George Richard 3rd Viscount Bolingbroke and his wife Isabella.