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St Giles’ Church – Funeral Hatchments

St Giles’ church has nineteen (19) funeral hatchments. This is the most in any building throughout the County of Buckinghamshire. It is rare for a village church to have so many funeral hatchments. In the early 21st century during restoration work on the church, most of the funeral hatchments were removed from the church and photographed to a high standard. Now these images for the first time are shown and listed in pages. A story about each funeral hatchment accompanies the image on each page.

What is a Funeral Hatchment? A Funeral Hatchment is a heraldic memorial to a deceased person. They are emblazoned with the arms of the deceased person and are diamond shaped.

What did they do with a Funeral Hatchment? Since the early 17th century in England, its customary for the funeral hatchment to be hung outside the deceased person’s home during the period of mourning which could be a whole year. It could be displayed over the front door. It was common in the 17th, 18th and 19th century but rare in the 20th century and now a days. Thereafter they may be placed in the Parish church and the church would receive some monies for having it in the church.

Why so many Funeral Hatchment? The Parish of Stoke Poges for centuries has had wealthy Lords of the Manor who have lived on Stoke Park estate. Yet there have been other wealthy families living in the Parish who have been able to pay for a funeral hatchment and paid the Church for the funeral hatchment to be displayed inside the church. In many other churches they have been destroyed due to them being hung against the wall whereby they became damp and rotted away or thought by the church to be beyond repair. Some were burnt after having been on display for a given length of time. Others were disposed of when building work took place, especially during the Victorian period.

St Giles’ Church is in Church Lane, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, England, SL2 4NZ

More information about the activities of Stoke Poges Church can be found at www.stokepogeschurch.org

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