Monday, June 20th, 2011
A friend who is searching for a unique name for her baby, has decided to eschew the usual baby name books, and instead decided on a slightly less conventional approach: visiting graveyards for inspiration!
When visiting the The New Forest last weekend, she convinced me to accompany her on one of her graveyard visits, her crafty incentive being that the graveyard she had in mind is where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried – she knew I couldn’t resist. So off we went to All Saints church in Minstead – her in search of catchy names and me in search of Sherlock Holmes’s creator. Many of the tombstones have obviously been there for a number of years and we spent a fair amount of time trying to decipher the well-worn inscriptions.
Helpfully, according to our guidebook, Conan Doyle’s grave is on the outskirts of the churchyard (apparently the Church didn’t want him too close by), so that made our job slightly easier. As it turns out though, the grave wasn’t too difficult to locate after all, marked as it was by a smoking pipe sitting casually on the tombstone. One thing that did surprise me though was the inscription on the stone – a patriot and physician first and foremost, and only lastly a man of letters, the latter the one that resonates most when we hear his name now.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
PATRIOT, PHYSICIAN & MAN OF LETTERS
It’s a beautiful churchyard – with a charming higgledy piggeldy church in the centre and I’d certainly recommend a visit. And if you want a suitably Holmesian read for your trip, try Laurie R. King’s excellent series featuring Holmes’s young wife, Mary Russell, as its lead character. Find out more about the series here…
Lara Crisp, Managing Editor