Victorian Symbolism

Following Queen Victoria’s example after the death of Prince Albert in 1861, it became customary for families to go through elaborate rituals to commemorate their dead. This included wearing mourning clothes, having a lavish and expensive funeral, curtailing social behavior for a set period of time, and erecting an ornate monument on the grave. Women did not falter from wearing jewellery to the lavish funerals.

The Victorians took symbolism very seriously, almost every form of monument in a Victorian Cemetery represents something relevant to the deceased and their family.
Many symbols would also be displayed upside down as a representation of death.  Classic examples of this can be seen in Highgate Cemetery where even the keyholes on the cast iron catacomb doors are inverted.

Faith Hope Charity

The three stepped plinth represents "Faith, Hope and Charity", the Squirrel was just being a poser.


Urn, Symbol of death copied from cinerary urns of antiquity


Lilly's are symbolic of purity and are still one of the most common funeral flowers


Bird (often a dove) Flying down = with Holy Spirit, Flying up = the spirit ascending, Perched = like Noah's dove after the flood

Broken Column

Broken column, (right side of photo) means cut off in the prime of life or a loss of support, often denotes head of the family


The Serpents (which can be seen on this Catacomb door) is the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic for Eternal Life. 


Scales denotes the weighing of souls for justice


Ivy, stands for memories remaining evergreen

Broken Flower

A broken or severed flower is a sign of early or sudden death. A severed bud denotes a child


The Angel means a messenger or guide between God & man


The Arrows represents Mortality.


The Obelisk is a tall rectangular or triangular pointed column which is the ancient Egyptian symbol


IHS The sacred monogram, is an abbreviation of the word for Jesus in Greek

Clasped Hands

Clasped hands indicate the hope of reunification, normally between a Husband and Wife. If you look closely you will see that one hand has a frilly cuff symbolizing the hand of the wife.

Anchor and Chain

Anchor and Chain - symbolises a firm faith in salvation

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