Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book and Candle: a Nunhead Cemetery Mystery

Walking in Nunhead Cemetery recently I noticed a grave with an old book on it, and a tealight candle which had evidently been lit.

Was there some connection between the book and the grave's inhabitants? Had a descendant of the deceased placed it there as well lighting a candle in their memory? 

Opening the book I was none the wiser - it was an 1831 edition of 'A short and plain instruction for the better understanding of the Lord's Supper' by the Rev. Thomas Wilson. Wilson, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, died in 1755 - long before the cemetery existed. So he's not buried there. Perhaps somebody connected with the publication of the book, or even a book that belonged to them when they were preparing for confirmation in the church.

Unfortunately the grave is damaged, so the name of the person or persons buried there is unclear. The inscription reads 'The family vault of Charles Bala...' with the rest of the name chipped of. The only English surname I can think of is Balance - though of course if might not be an English name.

Can anybody throw any light on this, one of the many mysteries of Nunhead Cemetery.

Update: mystery solved - the book and candle were apparently left behind from Bipeds Monitor, a performance in the cemetery from Arbonauts.


Anonymous said...

maybe it was a leftover from the 'THE BARON AND THE ARBONAUTS' performance:

although traditionally Nunhead has been connected with 'rites' for many years

The Great Escapist said...

Reminds me of the Eddie Reader song lyrics "I need a bell, a book and a candle to keep your ghost away"...maybe related?

The Great Escapist said...

With a little further investigation I found this:,_book,_and_candle
could this be the reason?

Transpontine said...

Seems this was left over from Arbonauts performance as speculated above (see update in post)