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Monday, 8 August 2011

An Eccentric Burial Request

I'm on a nineteenth-century journal splurge at the moment as part of my PhD. I came across this and thought it warranted a little post. The article is entitled "Burial Vagaries" and covers a multitude of odd burial requests. This was both my favourite and the most absurd. I can't guarantee the truth of it but I've found several references to it dating back to the 1820s.

"The Rev. Langton Freeman, rector of Bilton, Northamptonshire, was eccentric in so many ways, that none who knew the man were surprised at his leaving peculiar directions for his burial. He ordained that his corpse should be left undisturbed until it grew offensive; when that came about, it was to be carried, bed and all, decently and privately, to the summer-house in his garden at Whilton; laid therein upon the bed, wrapped in a strong double winding-sheet, and in all respects, the description given in the Holy Scriptures of our Saviour's burial to be followed as nearly as might be. The doors and windows of the summer-house were then to be secured, and the building planted round with evergreens, and fenced with dark-blue palings of oak or iron. These instructions were carried out to the letter; and there the reverent eccentric lies still, although fence and trees have disappeared, and the summer-house itself is in ruins. A few years back, an entrance was effected through a hole in the roof, and the curious intruders beheld a dried-up figure, a veritable mummy without any wrappers, lying with one arm across the chest, and the other hanging down the body."

"Burial Vagaries", Chambers Journal, 26th October 1872

"So confident was he of animation returning, after an apparent death, that he directed himself to be laid in a bed [in the summer-house], as though merely reposing in ordinary sleep. His wearing apparel he requested might be hung up in the room, and his hat and even walking-stick placed ready for use. He anticipated rising so refreshed from his slumber, that he should be able, on the instant, to quit the place, and walk out, as it had been his custom to do."

"Tales, Romances, &c", Kaleidoscope, 23rd June 1829

I fear the reverend's hopes of resurrection never came to pass...

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