Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hatched, Matched and Dispatched.

The window churches open on a world, now consigned to history, continue to intrigue me. All the major transitions in life were marked here by past generations. 

This is St Richard's in Burton where I saw the flame haired female martyr a couple of weeks ago with Witchywoo. H chose the destination for our walk on Sunday and coincidentally chose the same place. I was more than happy to revisit and it was new for Mr GBT. Every visit yields new knowledge for me.

There were two of these wooden boards suspended from the church roof. I "think" I may have seen something similar before but frankly paid them scant attention. I only pointed them out to H this time because of the skull at the bottom. She casually replied that it was a hatchment to mark the death of a bachelor! Erm that stopped me in my tracks. More research needed!

Now I know that hatchments are a 17th century funerary tradition for the nobility. They would have been displayed in the deceased home for six months then transferred to the local church. The different colours and symbols denote the circumstances of the deceased. A bachelor has a black background on the lozenge [the diamond shaped board] whereas a knotted ribbon border is added for a spinster. For a married couple both sets of family arms are displayed [known as impalement] within the escutcheon [the shield shape]...if the husband dies first then the background of his on the left side [known as dexter] is painted black whereas the wife's is shown as white on the right hand side [known as sinister] The colours are reversed if the wife dies first. For a widower the entire board is blackened around the two sets of arms but a widow has the same knotted ribbon as for the spinster. I hope, that should I encounter another one in my travels, I might be able to decipher it a little more. This one is from the Biddulph family apparently.



  1. How can you tell the difference between a widow and a spinster? x

    1. As far as I understand it the widow would have the two sets of arms showing on the background with the knotted ribbon border whereas the spinster only her own family's. It gets even more confusing if somebody has been married more than once! Arilx