Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Ratlinghope sin-eater

"I give easement and rest now to thee, dear man. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen."

This is the grave of the Munslow family in the churchyard at Ratlinghope in Shropshire. Richard Munslow is said to have been the last 'sin-eater' in the area.

A sin-eater attended the funerals of those who had died unprepared to meet their maker. By eating bread and drinking ale, and by making the short speech above at the graveside, he took upon himself the sins of the deceased.

Richard Munslow died in 1906. There is more about his grave and plans to restore it on the BBC website. The text of the sin-eater's speech comes from Shropshire Gallery.

Ratlinghope is a beautiful green bowl in the hills and there are swallows (or are they swifts?) nesting in the church porch. You can also hear the curlews on the hills above.

Later. The grave has been restored since I took this photograph.

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