Asleep in the Old Churchyard
Monday, April 15, 2019 at 11:13AM
Velvet Snoutingdingle in Hunter, Trees, chestnut, graveyard, trees

One of the perils of booking a service through third - or possibly fourth and fifth parties - is that the provider of that service has free rein to stuff one royally at the last minute. With Lady Snoutingdingle's long planned weekend away in tatters, we trawled the last-minute sites to find somewhere to stay. In our younger day, we would have piled into the automobile and headed for the hills, going as far as the traffic would let us and then availing ourselves of the services of those nice ladies they used to have in Tourist Offices who knew every B&B for fifty miles and would sort you out in a jiffy. These days, with the Old Hunter unable to 'do stairs' our options are a bit more strictly limited. We found somewhere in the Peak District. A charming chapel conversion.

In a graveyard.

Naturally we assumed that the aforementioned graveyard would be a few old headstones, half hidden in the grass, wobbling distance from a pub. Not so. It was a full-on graveyard in current use, surrounded on all sides by high walls, and a forbidding wrought-iron gate at the boundary. It was well tended, and flowers were struggling out of hibernation in the bushes and on the trees. I couldn't help thinking that the winking eyes of the flowers were, in fact, composed of bits of long-dead persons hauled from their sleepy hollows by unrepentant roots. In the sun, it was beautiful and the chapel was beautifully appointed. In the rain, its charm faded a little. At night, with no external lights, those watchful blooms seemed even more like eyes than before.

The Old Hunter loved it, of course, not least when he returned from some foray with a large peice of bone. I assume that it was not human.

By far the dominant feature of the graveyard was a magnificent Horse Chestnut tree. It filled one corner and coated the floor with both conkers and the old skins of conkers which the Hunter muttered about as they stabbed his paws. She had nine trunks, each too thick to wrap my arms around, and each trunk reached up over a hundred feet, like a great crown festooned with pyramids of flowers. I wondered what kind of soil might breed such a tree, but of course, the graveyard was richly endowed. I looked up at the tree and it looked down at me with a million tiny, blinking eyes. In the way of such co-incidences I have recently become besotted with a traditional song by the Wailin' Jennys whose version* contains the lines:

But were I at rest 'neath yonder tree
Why would you weep, my friends, for me?


When I sleep in the graveyard, I can only dream that some part of me will become something so magnificent whether it be a tree or a song.



*other versions are available.

Article originally appeared on The Night Planted Orchard (
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