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Interesting comparisons can be made from records of the rituals and ceremonies of death and burial.
General George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, was given an elaborate state funeral when he died in 1670. The funeral procession, including earls, bishops, heralds and trumpeters, was recorded in a series of engravings. This was probably published the same year, and bound into book form. One plate depicts the main carriage, containing Monck.
Poorer members of the population were buried without such
pomp and ceremony. Between 1660 and 1814 parliamentary legislation
required that all persons should be buried
in shrouds or winding sheets made from a woollen material.
This was intended to support the domestic woollen industry.
Forms were provided so that local officials and churchmen
could record their declaration that the body was buried dressed
according to the Act.
Elaborate funerals were popular in the Victorian period. An advertisement in a commercial directory for 1844 indicates the style of funeral aspired to by those who could afford it. A hearse and mourning coach, furnished with new drapery and plumes, each with a pair of horses, would cost 12s.6d. for use within the town and to the cemetery. For further distances the cost was 21s. for five miles, and 42s. for ten miles.
Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.