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Signs & Symbols Walk -24th September 2017

Sunday 24th September 2017

Our last scheduled walk this year in the Old Cemetery was on the 'Signs & Symbols' to be seen on some of the graves, and their meanings. This walk is now an established favourite in the repertoire, and was led by Val Ferguson; it was attended by some 20 visitors, including quite a few FoSOC members.
After a brief welcome, Val led the party around the lower part of the Yew Tree Path, the two chapel buildings, the main entrance gate and adjacent lodge and Jewish section, while pointing out some of the many signs on gravestones and memorials in the area. We saw and heard about different 'steles' (standing slabs), the Flemish Cross of the Belgian War Memorial containing the letters 'INRI', occasional additions to gravestones such as the bird for a taxidermist and the carving of a gun carriage for a drill sergeant, the complex symbolism of passion flowers and the simple equality represented by the standard form of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones. Some graves were indicated bearing the letters 'IHS', a representation of the name of Jesus, and others which showed features such as obelisks, hands pointing to the Heavens, a scroll showing the path of a life and even a death mask for one former mayor. Val also discussed some of the mausoleums including the listed 'Faith, Hope & Charity' Pearce family monument. These were just some of the features of the Cemetery Val showed us in the hour or so of the walk, but we all sensed we could have been kept engrossed for far longer. Indeed, this topic is more fully covered in our booklet 'Introduction to Emblems and Signs in Southampton's Old Victorian Cemetery', written by Val and a must-read for all members!
We owe thanks to Val for the informative walk and also to all who attended and made donations towards our work.