Beautiful yet mysterious gravestone engravings that were loved by many but hated by a few.
The Belvoir Angels began to appear on gravestones in the Vale from around 1690 until 1750. They were intricately carved angels with down-turned wings and a ruffed neck. It is thought they were commissioned by the wealthy parishioners wanting to leave their mark on Earth.
Although the angels themselves were beautifully and meticulously carved, the inscriptions on the gravestones often contained grammatical mistakes, omissions and spacing errors, the mason running out of space on the stone before the inscription was finished.
Although there are around 320 of these gravestones to be found in the Vale of Belvoir, virtually nothing is known about the stonemasons who carved them. It’s thought it may have been a Father & Son, possibly based in the Hickling, Nether Broughton area. Certainly the later editions of the carvings are not as good as the earlier ones, perhaps one or both became unwell, eyesight failing. It is believed the stone masons were probably illiterate.
However, it seems that not everyone approved of the angels. A fair few of the gravestones have been intentionally damaged or defaced. It does appear that the damage occurred soon after the stone was erected on the grave, probably by people of a Puritanical persuasion who considered the angel blasphemous.
This weekend at the Kooroon Gallery in Bottesford, there is artwork by local artist Vanessa Stone who depicts these mysterious local beauties to great effect.