Memento Mori Verses

Within the churchyard of St John the Baptist in Keele, you will find some wonderful headstones from the 18th century that feature Memento Mori verses.

St John the Baptist Church Keele

St John the Baptist church in Keele

It was common in the 14th to 18th centuries to feature symbols and/or writings of Memento Mori upon ones final resting place. Back then, it was a lot easier to be fatally struck down with a disease or ill health and therefore, Memento Mori served as a reminder to all that death could arrive within the hour, so make the most of it.

Memento Mori Headstones

As you can see from the headstone below, all of the deceased lived very short lives, so the Memento Mori verse is very appropriate.

Keele Headstone William

Keep death and judgement always in your eyes;

Keep Death and Judgement always in your Eye;

None are fit to live, who are not fit do die;

Make use of present time, because you must

Take up your Lodging shortly in the Dust.

Tis dreadful to behold the setting Sun,

And Night approaching ere your Work be done.

There are some other interesting headstones that can’t be ignored from the churchyard in Keele and the next Memento Mori headstone makes me reflect with emotion how hard it was centuries ago. It features a verse for Jane who died in the year 1789 from child birth.

The Pains of Child bed over powered me

I did submit to Death my life you see

As my Greater through his heavenly Love

Took me to rest with blessed Saints Above

 In regards to the figure blowing a trumpet, I have provided my friend, The Mystic Masque’s thoughts, who had originally visited this location and shared a photograph he had taken that inspired me to visit.

This grave also features a Wildman of the Woods aka John the Baptist caricature, or that’s what it seems to be, on the head of the grave, the church is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist

Keele Headstone Childbirth

The pains of childbirth

Finally, this headstone has a beautiful memento mori verse, which is sadly for a child.

Sweet Innocence Lies

Sweet Innocence Lies

Sweet innocency’s form lies here,

Lamented by its Parents dear;

Who hope at last in endless Joy,

To Meet again their lovely Boy.

Memento Mori Symbolism

I adore the art of ‘Memento Mori‘ and I do honestly think that this is an art form that has been forgotten in today’s cemeteries. 

Headstone Symbols is a website created by myself and partner Mark Kneale. On this website, I have written more about the Memento Mori symbolism and it’s well worth a visit.

Headstone Symbols

Headstone Symbols

Graveyard Mortality Symbols – A lot of images from Edinburgh’s St Cuthbert’s graveyard.  Simply the best place to visit to see Memento Mori headstones.

Irish Cadaver Stones – The wealthy reminders of Memento Mori

The Dead do Speak – Want to know more about Memento Mori and how the dead speak to us from beyond the grave?

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