Monday, 31 October 2016

All Hallows' Eve at St John's Hampstead Parish Church

This afternoon on the eve of All Saints' Day I visited the dead at St John's Hampstead parish church.

As I often do I first went down the path to see John Constable.  I enjoy his clouds and his skies.

And then I walked back up the slope to say hello to John Harrison who did more for the good of mankind in the eighteenth century than almost anyone alive.

Not by war nor adventure but by patiently making clocks.

On one side of the church are the more established dead, Constable, Harrison, also a relative by marriage of Jane Austen, whom the Jane Austen Society has made a fuss of and has cleaned up her grave, and many others whose inscriptions are worn away or hidden behind leaves and shrubs.

And on the other side of the church, across the road, are the newcomers.

Elsa Collins, for example, mother of Joan and Jackie Collins.

The actor Anton Walbrook.

The actress and comedian Kay Kendall, wife of Rex Harrison.

The writer George du Maurier.

And the prime minister who never was, Hugh Gaitskell.

All Saints' Day is a Christian festival celebrating all the saints, known and unknown.  More anciently it is the day when one remembers the dead, who are so many.