I’m waaaay behind with reading Anya Seton’s Katherine so there’s no review to post just yet. Instead I thought I’d put up some photos of a grave we visited a week or two ago in sunny Bournemouth. This was my first time in Bournemouth (it’s lovely, by the way; you should go) and before we left I made a point of dragging poor P around the town centre in search of St Peter’s Church. It was fairly easy to find – just opposite a grotty looking Wetherspoons called ‘The Mary Shelley’ – and we didn’t have to spend too much time wandering amongst the graves because the church had provided a handy exhibition board with a plan to help us out. I expect they probably get quite a few Shelley pilgrims visiting.
This small looking vault is actually the last resting place not just of Mary Shelley, but also her son and his wife and Shelley’s parents, the journalist William Godwin and the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, author of Vindication of the Rights of Women.
Apparently Mary Shelley only visited Bournemouth a handful of times. In the late 1840s her son began work on a new home at nearby Boscombe, hoping the sea air would help his ailing mother, but she died in 1851 before it could be finished. In the last years of her life she had expressed a wish to be buried alongside her parents so they were duly removed from a cemetery in London and placed alongside her here. It’s also said that the heart of Percy Bysshe Shelley, with whom Mary had eloped as a teenager, is buried here. He drowned in Italy in 1822 but his heart was salvaged from the funeral pyre and brought home to England.
After leaving Bournemouth we wandered into the New Forest for a bit and came across another literary grave. But I’ll save my photos of that for next time I’m short of reviews!