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Death, time and commerce: innovation and conservatism in styles of funerary material culture in 18th-19th century London

Hoile, Sarah Ann Essex; (2020) Death, time and commerce: innovation and conservatism in styles of funerary material culture in 18th-19th century London. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the development of coffin furniture, the inscribed plates and other metal objects used to decorate coffins, in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London. It analyses this material within funerary and non-funerary contexts, and contrasts and compares its styles, production, use and contemporary significance with those of monuments and mourning jewellery. Over 1200 coffin plates were recorded for this study, dated 1740 to 1853, consisting of assemblages from the vaults of St Marylebone Church and St Bride’s Church and the lead coffin plates from Islington Green burial ground, all sites in central London. The production, trade and consumption of coffin furniture are discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 investigates coffin furniture as a central component of the furnished coffin and examines its role within the performance of the funeral. Multiple aspects of the inscriptions and designs of coffin plates are analysed in Chapter 5 to establish aspects of change and continuity with this material. In Chapter 6 contemporary trends in monuments are assessed, drawing on a sample recorded in churches and a burial ground, and the production and use of this above-ground funerary material culture are considered. In Chapter 7 a dated sample of mourning jewellery is explored in order to place the funerary objects of this study within a broader contemporary context. Limited innovation is identified in coffin furniture, in contrast with monuments and mourning jewellery, and it is suggested that its conservatism relates to the role of undertakers in its selection, as well as to the particular circumstances of its use. It is argued that coffin furniture was an important aspect of funerary rituals of this period and can be interpreted as one aspect of a broader emphasis on commemoration and the use of objects to materialise and manage experiences of separation and loss.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Death, time and commerce: innovation and conservatism in styles of funerary material culture in 18th-19th century London
Event: UCL (Univeristy College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10095497
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