Revisiting the Churchyard
The churchyard has always been a site of pilgrimage. The remains of the dead, sanctified as holy relics, conferred a hallowed status on their location in the earth; this, in turn, became a destination for travellers. By the eighteenth century, ‘pilgrims’ consciously mapped their interest in literary remains onto these sacred spaces, drawing their pursuit of literary tourism into a long history of travel to the realms of the venerated dead. Using a series of photographs, I retrace my churchyard pilgrimages in London and Thomas Gray’s Stoke Poges, reflecting on the context of thanatourism and thinking about the ways in which the places of the dead—chief among them the churchyard—still mean today.
Copyright (c) 2020 James Metcalf
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