the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

In a graveyard in Bramfield, England, lies the body of one Bridgett Applewhaite. Her mother died of an apoplectic fit when Bridgett was just 16 and her brother died aged 27 of a debilitating cough and wasting disease. She had married once, been widowed and was about to remarry when she too died of an apoplectic fit at age 44.

Not this Brig(d)itt(e) found here

This is the charming and informative engraving on her headstone

Between the Remains of her brother Edward

and of her husband Arthur

Here lies the body of Bridgett Applewhaite

Once Bridgett Nelson

Not this Bri(d)gitt(e) N(i)elsen found here

After the fatigues of a Married Life

Borne by her with Incredible Patience

for Four Years and three Quarters, bating three weeks;

And after the Enjoiment of the Glorious


Of an easy and Unblemish’t widowhood,

Merry Widow found here

For four years and upwards

She Resolved to run the Risk of a Second Marriage


But Death forbad the Banns and

having with an Apoplectick Dart

Many more fascinating images to be found here

[The same Instrument, with which he had


Dispatcht her Mother]

Toucht the most vital part of the Brain;

She must have fallen Directly to the Ground

[as one Thunder-strook]

Thunderstorm found here

If she had not been Catch’t and Supported

by her Intended Husband.

Of which invisible Bruise,

After a struggle for above Sixty Hours

With that grand enemy to Life,

(But the certain and Merciful Friend to Helpless Old Age)

In Terrible Convulsions Plaintive Groans, or

Stupefying Sleep

Without recovery of her Speech, or Senses

She dyed on the 12th day Sepr in ye year of our

Lord 1737

Of her own age 44.


Mike, Steve, Greg – all dead at 44

Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 8:05 am  Comments (48)  
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a ring, a cross, a rosary

Back in 1974, Jean Danielou was found dead in the apartment of a Parisian cabaret dancer. What made this newsworthy was Jean’s status in the catholic church.


“At three forty-eight the police received an urgent message from a Madame Santoni, who occupied an upper floor apartment in a none too reputable quarter just north of the Boulevard des Batignolles. Her message brought the police rushing to the scene, for she told them that no less a person than a Cardinal was dead on her premises.

French police rush to the scene

He, Daniélou, had called there soon after three-thirty. He had, so someone told her, run up the stairs four at a time, then collapsed at the top, purple in the face, and soon became unconscious. She had torn his clothes apart, and summoned help. But it was impossible to revive him.


Father Coste, Superior of the Jesuits in Paris, arrived at the apartment and addressed the gathered  reporters. It was essential for them to maintain the utmost discretion, and, having said that, he went on to state that the Cardinal had died in the street, or it may possibly have been on the stairway, after he had fallen in the street.

‘Oh no, he wasn’t’, broke in Madame Santoni. The lady in question thoroughly deserved the title of Madame. She was well known to the police, a twenty-four year old blonde who traded under the name of Mimi, sometimes as hostess at a bar, a go-go girl at an all night cabaret, or as a strip-tease dancer in the Pigalle. Her home was run as a bawdy-house by her husband. It was then, however, temporarily out of business, as he had been convicted only three days previously for pimping.

This sort of happening supplied the Left-wing anti-clerical papers with copy for a week. One such, Le Canard Enchaine, had no hesitation in saying that the Cardinal had been leading a double life.

He had been under observation for some time, a step that was ordered by no less a person than M. Chirac, the Prime Minister who knew perfectly well that the Cardinal had been paying regular visits to Mimi.


In the Rue Puteaux, Paris, there is an ancient church, the crypt of which serves as the Grand Temple of the Grand Lodge of France. Some three years before Daniélou’s death, the Bishop of Paris, Daniel Pézeril, had there been received into the Lodge. Cardinal Daniélou had also been a frequent visitor to the crypt, where he was seen in consultation with one of the Lodge Masters who had been honoured with the title of Grand Secretary of the Obedience.

Masonic Pierre Cubique

Then, in 1975, a bishop by the name of Monsignor Roger Tort caught the train from Toulouse to Paris.

Excitement centred on the Rue du Ponceau, again on the left bank, a quarter notorious for brothels, prostitutes, and sex shops, where red lamps shone invitingly. The woman who raised the alarm kept one of the brothels. She had come across a man, who was obviously ill, in the street outside her door, and she enlisted the help of two others of her kind to drag him inside.

“The French Prostitute” found here

The stranger died of a heart attack, between seven and eleven o’clock, in the street, or in the corridor, or in one of the rooms. A news-hungry reporter said that the Bishop, once his identity had been confirmed, had come a long way from his lodgings. The reporter went on to say, backed by a snap judgment from the police that, as in the case of Daniélou, the body appeared to have been hastily dressed.

A clerical apologist later advised all those interested to put away such thoughts as being totally unworthy. He pointed out that Monsignor Tort, when found, was wearing his Bishop’s ring, and his pectoral cross, and that his rosary was still in his pocket. Of course the presence of those objects was enough to prove that ‘no inadmissible intentions’ had brought him into the district……

16th century skull rosary found here

weeding out the widows

In Victorian and Regency times the customs surrounding mourning dress were rigid and onerous especially amongst the aristocracy and middle classes. Widows were isolated in rooms hung with black cloth and their bed chambers were entirely covered in it. They were required to sleep and receive visits of condolence in special black beds of mourning.

No one wearing a heavy crape veil should go to a gay reception, a wedding, or a theatre. For the first six months the dress should be of crape cloth, or Henrietta cloth covered entirely with crape, collar and cuffs of white crape, a crape bonnet with a long crape veil, and a widow’s cap of white crape if preferred.

image found here

A deep veil is worn at the back of the bonnet, but not over the head or face like the widow’s veil, which covers the entire person when down. This fashion is very much objected to by doctors, who think many diseases of the eye come by this means, and advise for common use thin nuns’ veiling instead of crape, which sheds its pernicious dye producing catarrhal disease as well as blindness and cataract of the eye. It is a thousand pities that fashion dictates the crape veil, but so it is.

The period of widow isolation varied from one society to another. Amongst the Maoris of New Zealand a widow could not remarry until her husband’s body had decomposed. While this process was taking place she wore two special feather cloaks called “cloaks of tears”.  The husband’s bones would finally be exhumed, wrapped in these cloaks and reburied. The widow was then free to remarry.

image found here

Mourning accoutrements were  very popular until recent years, and included such items as lachrymatory tear bottles.

During Victorian funerals, men and women alike would shed tears for the deceased. A more upscale ceremony would distribute lachrymatory for the guests to capture their tears and aid in their mourning. A most common story of Victorian times is that mourners would shed their tears into a lachrymatory that used a special stopper. When the tears had finally evaporated, the mourning period would be complete.

Mourning jewellery came in many beautiful designs. Jet and pearls were popular and often a lock of hair belonging to the deceased would be displayed in a locket or ring. There are many more examples like these below over at artofmourning

Or you could get your husbands ashes packed into your breast implants – that way he’s with you for all time…….

Sheyla Hershey’s breasts contain over a gallon of silicone but no ashes

wait near the rear end

We’ve delved into the fear of being buried alive before at the Gimcrack. If you want to refresh your memory you can read about it here and here. Or you could just read this post instead…..

image by Rubex found here

John Snark wrote the Thesaurus of Horror in 1817.

“Terror, despair, horror seizes on him who is buried alive. The heart is rent asunder by unusual impulses. The emunctories choked by surcharge of faeces, rendered viscid by incalescence. The office of inosculation tries in vain to force its valves and runs retrograde bathing the poor grappling victim in extravasated blood in this dreadful scuffle till coagulation’s influence stagnates and he becomes a fermentable mass of murdered senseless decomposing matter.”

He urged physicians to try the Sphincter Test to confirm death.

“The test used by Turkish physicians seems very simple and natural, for they never think a subject dead while there is irritability or contractile power in the sphincter anus muscle. The test requires a tube to be inserted into the mouth of the deceased. The doctor then squeezes on a balloon-like bladder, to force air into the throat. One lucky assistant holds the nose and lips closed while another waits near the rear end. Death is confirmed if the air blast shoots out of the anus with a clap, the conclusion being that if the sphincter muscle has lost its contractability the person is really gone.”

gilding the lily

If you’ve got a couple of extra dead bodies hanging around (hey, what do I really know about you guys anyway?) ,  here’s a few ideas on what to do with them

When D.H. Lawrence died his lover Frieda had his ashes tipped into a concrete mixer and incorporated into her new mantlepiece.

In 1891 French surgeon Dr Varlot developed a method of preserving corpses by covering them with a thin layer or metal (in effect, he was electroplating the dead). Dr Varlot’s technique involved making the body conductive by exposing it to silver nitrate, then immersing it in a galvanic bath of copper sulphate, producing a millimeter thick coating of copper “a brilliant copper finish or exceptional strength and durability.”

image found here

In ancient Rome, where human blood was prescribed for epilepsy, epileptics hung around near the exit gates of public arenas so they could drink the blood of slain gladiators as they were dragged out.

Mosaic of the Gladiators found here

British farmers were “processing” human corpses to create raw materials long before the Nazis thought of it. On November 18, 1822 the Observer reported that the Napoleonic battlefields of Leipzig, Austerlitz and Waterloo had been “swept alike of the bones of the hero and the horse which he rode” and that hundreds of tons of bones had been shipped to Yorkshire bone-grinders to make fertilizer for farmers. After the siege of Plevna in 1877 a newspaper casually reported that “30 tons of human bones, comprising of 30,000 skeletons, have just landed at Bristol from Plevna.”

found at Married To The Sea

When the mistress of 19th century novelist Eugene Sue died, she willed him her skin, with instructions that he should bind a book with it….. He did.

I did a quick check on this mistress to be sure the story was correct. Apparently Eugene used the skin from her lily white shoulders to bind a complete set of his books. Maybe he wasn’t a very prolific writer.

Image found here

“A contributor to The Lion in 1829 revealed the instructions he had left in his will: his body was to be anatomized and the skull given to the Phrenological Society, the skin was to be tanned and used to upholster an armchair, his bones were to be crafted into knife handles and buttons and his flesh was to be used to fertilise a rose bush.

Watch carved from bone found here

Surgeon Richard Selzer muses about, but has probably not formalized, his plans for the treatment of his own remains after death “Upon the wall of some quiet library, ensconce my skull. Place oil and a wick in my brainpan. And there let me light with endless affection the pages of books for men to read.

skull light found here