I would like to dedicate this blog to my great-great-uncle Charles Hallam Payne (1870-1960) who, as the family record keeper, has possibly been the person most responsible for the saving of a large number of Payne family-related documents, photographs, heirlooms and mementoes, many from the 19th Century. Several others, including my grandfather Charles Leslie Payne (1892-1975), father Charles Bernard Payne (1928-2006), aunt Barbara Ellison - and of course myself - have inherited the hoarding genes, not only ensuring the survival of these important artefacts, but also adding to the pile, year by year. However, it is to Uncle Hallam (as he has always been referred to by family members) that we owe our gratitude for the survival of such a detailed record.
I have previously used other portraits of Uncle Hallam on Photo-Sleuth (Dale Cottage article), but this more casual shot encapsulates much of what he means to me, and is perfect for illustrating this introductory Graveyard Rabbit article. Since he died in July 1960, some seventeen months before I was born, I never met him and have therefore had to rely on photographs and recollections by my father and aunt to build up my own mental picture.
Hallam was 89 years old when this photo was taken, in the summer of 1959. He is standing in the Church Gresley churchyard, with his right hand on a Payne family gravestone. It is possible that my father, who visited England in 1959, the year before Uncle Hallam's death, took the photograph, although I am not sure about this.
There are two prints of the photo in my aunt's collection, one of which has the inscription in black ink (possibly Uncle Hallam's hand), "Peter Payne's Tombstone at Church Gresley." In addition, my aunt has written in blue ink, "1959" and "C.H. PAYNE HALLAM." The gravestone is a large one, and in fact commemmorates the lives of four members of the Payne family, as is revealed by a transcript of the inscription (Monumental Inscriptions, St Mary & St George, Church Gresley, publ. on microfiche by the Derbyshire Family History Society):
Peter Payne who departed this life on the 14th June 1839. Anne Payne wife of Peter Payne who departed this life on the 11th Novr. 1839. Also Henery Payne (Veterinary Surgeon) who departed this life on the 27th June 1834 aged 26 years. Also Sarah Ann Payne who departed this life on the 1st March 1803 aged 2 years. Flattery on tomb stones is but vainly spent. A man's good deeds are his best monument.Peter and Anne Payne were Hallam's great-grandparents, while Henery [sic] and Sarah Ann were siblings of his grandfather Peter Payne (1801-1845). Although he never knew any of them - even his paternal grandfather died long before he was born - Hallam was well aware of who they were, and I think it interesting that, in his last couple of years, he was making sure that he passed on this knowledge to other family members. Although he and his wife ("Aunt Sarah") never had any children of their own, four of his brothers and sisters had produced plenty of nephews and nieces.
Last year I was very fortunate to be able to visit the parish church of St Mary & St George at Church Gresley with my family, and hunt for the Payne and other gravestones. It was also very lucky that my brother Hallam (standing at second from left, above), named after the "fabulous uncle," was able to join us.
The gravestone of Peter and Anne Payne and two of their children is still in excellent condition, despite its large size. I will be writing more about the Church Gresley churchyard and some of the people who are interred there, but I was very impressed on the whole at how well maintained it is. Unfortunately, the church was locked, which prevented us from going inside, so that will have to wait for the next visit, hopefully before another five decades have passed.