Monthly Archives: August 2016

Death in the Victorian Era part 7: Cemetery Design and Symbolism


Death in the Victorian Era part 7: 
Cemetery Design and Symbolism

Cemetery Symbolism was alive and well in Victorian Era England, and a lot of what we see today in our own Australian Cemeteries harks back to this period, some symbology though has been adapted to Australian conditions, and way of life.
 There is a huge amount of symbology to be found in cemeteries, and it is something have written about previously on my other “Eidolon Blog” 
 From Freemason, Catholic, Anglican and family symbology, to Gothic influenced statues, urns, broken columns, Military, sailing and Egyptian obelisks, there is some great artistry in Victorian Era cemeteries. Catacombs , Family mausoleums and Crypts were also found amongst the grandiose cemeteries that the Victorian Era brought in to being (for South Australian cemetery symbolism you cannot go past West Terrace Cemetery, The Seppelt family mausoleum at Seppeltsfield or the Jesuit Crypt under St Aloysius Church at Sevenhill)
In 1832 the English Parliament passed a bill encouraging the establishment of seven private cemeteries in a ring around outer London. The first to open, in 1832, was Kensal Green, followed by West Norwood (1837), Highgate Cemetery (1839), Nunhead (1840), Brompton (1840), Abney Park (1840), and Tower Hamlets (1841).

 These new cemeteries were seen by the middle class of England as extensions of their social status and a way to immortalise their family names, through monuments to their dead.
 The graves of the period were extremely ornamental and were built to be symbolic of the family, or of the interests of the deceased. One could expect religious symbolism, crosses, Angels, the HIS inscription or passages from the Bible.
 Some would symbolise the working nature of a person, an anchor for a sailor, a horse and whip for a coachman or a sword for a military officer. Other families preferred symbols of death, such as skulls, the reaper or funeral urns.
 What is most curious about a lot of the symbology in early Victorian Cemeteries is how many graves feature pagan, Egyptian or Roman symbology. Perhaps the people of the era did not put too much thought into their choices and chose from only what appealed to them, or perhaps it has a deeper meaning within a family to be represented by a mystical pyramid.
 There was also, amongst some of the religions, such as Methodism and Protestants, not to have anything that could be remotely seen as Catholic inspired upon their graves, forsaking the use of crosses, angels, bibles etc for other things such as torches, wreaths or “holding hands”.
With the slowly rising popularity of cremation, and the upcoming World Wars, Cemetery burials and monuments began to change during the Edwardian period, and today in our age, the modern cemetery is very rarely decorated with such ornate, beautiful imagery as it was in the Victorian Era.
 Next Week: Death in the Victorian Era part 8: Coffins
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Death in the Victorian Era part 7: Cemetery Design and Symbolism


Death in the Victorian Era part 7: 
Cemetery Design and Symbolism

Cemetery Symbolism was alive and well in Victorian Era England and a lot of what we see today in our own Australian Cemeteries harks back to this period, some symbology though has been adapted to Australian conditions, and way of life.
 There is a huge amount of symbology to be found in cemeteries, and it is something have written about previously on my other “Eidolon Blog” 
 From Freemason, Catholic, Anglican and family symbology, to Gothic influenced statues, urns, broken columns, Military, sailing and Egyptian obelisks, there is some great artistry in Victorian Era cemeteries. Catacombs, Family mausoleums and Crypts were also found amongst the grandiose cemeteries that the Victorian Era brought in to being (for South Australian cemetery symbolism you cannot go past West Terrace Cemetery, The Seppelt family mausoleum at Seppeltsfield or the Jesuit Crypt under St Aloysius Church at Sevenhill)
In 1832 the English Parliament passed a bill encouraging the establishment of seven private cemeteries in a ring around outer London. The first to open, in 1832, was Kensal Green, followed by West Norwood (1837), Highgate Cemetery (1839), Nunhead (1840), Brompton (1840), Abney Park (1840), and Tower Hamlets (1841).

 These new cemeteries were seen by the middle class of England as extensions of their social status and a way to immortalise their family names, through monuments to their dead.
 The graves of the period were extremely ornamental and were built to be symbolic of the family, or of the interests of the deceased. One could expect religious symbolism, crosses, Angels, the HIS inscription or passages from the Bible.
 Some would symbolise the working nature of a person, an anchor for a sailor, a horse and whip for a coachman or a sword for a military officer. Other families preferred symbols of death, such as skulls, the reaper or funeral urns.
 What is most curious about a lot of the symbology in early Victorian Cemeteries is how many graves feature pagan, Egyptian or Roman symbology. Perhaps the people of the era did not put too much thought into their choices and chose from only what appealed to them, or perhaps it has a deeper meaning within a family to be represented by a mystical pyramid.
 There was also, amongst some of the religions, such as Methodism and Protestants, not to have anything that could be remotely seen as Catholic-inspired upon their graves, forsaking the use of crosses, angels, bibles etc for other things such as torches, wreaths or “holding hands”.
With the slowly rising popularity of cremation, and the upcoming World Wars, Cemetery burials and monuments began to change during the Edwardian period, and today in our age, the modern cemetery is very rarely decorated with such ornate, beautiful imagery as it was in the Victorian Era.
 Next Week: Death in the Victorian Era part 8: Coffins
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Death in the Victorian Era part 6: The Graveyard Walker


Death in the Victorian Era part 6: 
The Graveyard Walker
 The Victorian Era influence of Cemetery design is still felt in Australia today. Our cemeteries here are usually very large, ornate garden styles cemeteries. In South Australia one only has to look at Centennial Park, Smithfield Memorial Park and West Terrace Cemetery to see the influence I am referring too.
 In South Australia’s early days it was common for burials to happen in Church Graveyards, and it was the same in Victorian Era England, the only problem for the English in the last century was, that they had so many deaths, and so few areas set aside for the dead, that graveyards soon became overcrowded.
 Coffins could be stacked on top of each other in 20 foot deep pits, with the top coffin only inches from the surface. Some graves would be dug up, the corpse dismembered, the coffin smashed for firewood to be sold to paupers, and the newly dead, buried in their place. Often the rotting bones and flesh would be sprawled about the cemetery, attracting dogs and rats and other scavengers.

An English Surgeon named George Walker took up residence in Drury Lane at the start of the Victorian Era, and it was through his campaigning that the English public came to realise the their poor treatment of the dead, and the neglect of the cemeteries was contributing to their poor health and the spread of disease.
 Walker’s campaign gained ground in 1839 with the publishing of his “Gatherings in Graveyards” pamphlet which emphasised the problem of the gas emanating from the rotting corpses. The trapped cadaverous vapours would often cause coffins to explode, this was particularly bad for coffins in above ground vaults, or ones exposed to the ground surface, spreading their foul stench and associated disease into the air.
 (It was common in the Victorian era for cemetery workers to drill holes in coffins to stop them expanding and exploding).

 It was because of his influence that many of the Victorian Era graveyards were closed, and new designs, based on the French Pere-la-Chaise Cemetery were adopted through-out England. These cemeteries would be built outside the larger cities and included long tree-lined avenues, ornate iron work and ornate headstones.
 They were a park and memorial place all in one, Walker’s influence back then, can probably be attributed to our own Australian garden cemeteries today.
NEXT WEEK: Death in the Victorian Era part 7: Cemetery Design and Symbolism

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Death in the Victorian Era part 6: The Graveyard Walker


Death in the Victorian Era part 6: 
The Graveyard Walker
 The Victorian Era influence of Cemetery design is still felt in Australia today. Our cemeteries here are usually very large, ornate garden styles cemeteries. In South Australia one only has to look at Centennial Park, Smithfield Memorial Park and West Terrace Cemetery to see the influence I am referring too.
 In South Australia’s early days it was common for burials to happen in Church Graveyards, and it was the same in Victorian Era England, the only problem for the English in the last century was, that they had so many deaths, and so few areas set aside for the dead, that graveyards soon became overcrowded.
 Coffins could be stacked on top of each other in 20 foot deep pits, with the top coffin only inches from the surface. Some graves would be dug up, the corpse dismembered, the coffin smashed for firewood to be sold to paupers, and the newly dead, buried in their place. Often the rotting bones and flesh would be sprawled about the cemetery, attracting dogs and rats and other scavengers.

An English Surgeon named George Walker took up residence in Drury Lane at the start of the Victorian Era, and it was through his campaigning that the English public came to realise their poor treatment of the dead, and the neglect of the cemeteries was contributing to their poor health and the spread of disease.
 Walker’s campaign gained ground in 1839 with the publishing of his “Gatherings in Graveyards” pamphlet which emphasised the problem of the gas emanating from the rotting corpses. The trapped cadaverous vapours would often cause coffins to explode, this was particularly bad for coffins in above-ground vaults, or ones exposed to the ground surface, spreading their foul stench and associated disease into the air.
 (It was common in the Victorian era for cemetery workers to drill holes in coffins to stop them expanding and exploding).

 It was because of his influence that many of the Victorian Era graveyards were closed and new designs, based on the French Pere-la-Chaise Cemetery were adopted through-out England. These cemeteries would be built outside the larger cities and included long tree-lined avenues, ornate ironwork and ornate headstones.
 They were a park and memorial place all in one, Walker’s influence back then can probably be attributed to our own Australian garden cemeteries today.
NEXT WEEK: Death in the Victorian Era part 7: Cemetery Design and Symbolism

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Death in the Victorian Era part 5: Victorian Funeral Etiquette


Death in the Victorian Era part 5: 
Victorian Funeral Etiquette

Outside of our Indigenous past, Australia’s settlement saw people emigrate from across the globe (it wasn’t just Europeans but also Chinese, Afghani’s, Indians and many more nationalities that came to the great southern lands). With this influx of new people, came difference in religious doctrines, beliefs, customs and practices involving death and funerals.
 Our main influence though, in the Victorian Era at least, was always that of our British rulers. We followed much of their traditions, although, we adapted them for our own climate, and over time, became much more relaxed than the English about rules and regulations.
 The British, Victorian Era influence is still felt today in how we present and design our cemeteries, and much of the culture, stigma’s and formalities that surround death and burials.
 
 The following is an example of Victorian Era etiquette regarding funerals.

 Management of a funeral would fall upon the most competent family member or friend, who isn’t overwhelmed by the death, failing this, the funeral details would be seen to by the families local Priest, and if he was not available, an undertaker.
The expense of the funeral should reflect the wealth and social standing of the deceased person. The funeral however should avoid becoming opulent and gaudy, and retain a sense of sorrowfulness for the loss of the loved one.

 Invitations are acceptable for those who may not be aware of the death, or who live far away. The invitations should be sent via private messenger and should include the location the procession is to leave from, and where the burial will take place. Etiquette dictates that the private messenger will acquire carriages for all invited, and that all invited in this manner MUST attend the funeral.

 Family are to be the first to view the deceased remains, invited guests are to follow, but must not be present  1 hour before the funeral start – in the one hour period before the funeral start, and after the family has finished, the guest may view the body of the  deceased at their discretion.
 It is customary that a person, usually an immediate friend of the family, but not a family member, to act as an usher, receiving guests and showing them to their seats.
Upon entry of the house of mourning, gentlemen must remove their hats, and not place them upon their heads again whilst inside the house.
 It is also extremely rude to laugh, talk loudly or expect to talk to the immediate family at the funeral. All animosities with the deceased should be put aside and forgotten.
 After the remembrance of the deceased, the Priest, Clergyman, Undertaker or person proceeding the funeral will enter the first carriage, with the coffin being entered behind in the hearse, the six pallbearers will walk, 3 aside of the hearse (or in some cases in a carriage in front of the hearse).
 The carriage directly behind the hearse should contain the immediate family of the deceased, followed by other family members.
 Whilst the body of the deceased is being carried by the pallbearers, and whilst the funeral procession passes them ALL guests, male and female should uncover and bow their heads as a mark of respect.
 In some quarters, it is common that, before the funeral procession leaves to the cemetery, mourners are allowed a chance to lay on the coffin, white flowers or blossoms on a married person. If the deceased was of the Navy or military (sometimes the Police Force) a sash, sword, flag or some other memorial adornment may be laid upon the coffin at this point.
 At the cemetery, the Clerg
ymen (person proceeding the funeral) enters the cemetery first and precedes the mourners to the grave-site. Followed by the pallbearer’s with the coffin, once the mourners have gathered, the pallbearers will lower the deceased into their final resting place. The Clergyman will recite the final prayers, and the mourners will depart to their homes.
The people of Australia have settled upon no prescribed periods for the wearing of mourning. Some wear them long after their hearts have ceased to mourn. Where there is profound grief, no rules are needed, but where the sorrow is not so great, there is need of observance of fixed periods for wearing mourning. Australian etiquette Melbourne: People’s Publishing Co., 1886.
NEXT WEEK: Death in the Victorian Era part 6: The Graveyard Walker
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Death in the Victorian Era part 5: Victorian Funeral Etiquette


Death in the Victorian Era part 5: 
Victorian Funeral Etiquette

Outside of our Indigenous past, Australia’s settlement saw people emigrate from across the globe (it wasn’t just Europeans but also Chinese, Afghani’s, Indians and many more nationalities that came to the great southern lands). With this influx of new people, came difference in religious doctrines, beliefs, customs and practices involving death and funerals.
 Our main influence though, in the Victorian Era at least was always that of our British rulers. We followed much of their traditions, although, we adapted them for our own climate, and over time became much more relaxed than the English about rules and regulations.
 The British, Victorian Era influence is still felt today in how we present and design our cemeteries, and much of the culture, stigmas and formalities that surround death and burials.
 
 The following is an example of Victorian Era etiquette regarding funerals.

 Management of a funeral would fall upon the most competent family member or friend, who isn’t overwhelmed by the death, failing this, the funeral details would be seen to by the families local Priest, and if he was not available, an undertaker.
The expense of the funeral should reflect the wealth and social standing of the deceased person. The funeral, however, should avoid becoming opulent and gaudy, and retain a sense of sorrowfulness for the loss of the loved one.

 Invitations are acceptable for those who may not be aware of the death, or who live far away. The invitations should be sent via private messenger and should include the location the procession is to leave from, and where the burial will take place. Etiquette dictates that the private messenger will acquire carriages for all invited and that all invited in this manner MUST attend the funeral.

 The family are to be the first to view the deceased remains, invited guests are to follow, but must not be present  1 hour before the funeral start – in the one hour period before the funeral start, and after the family has finished, the guest may view the body of the deceased at their discretion.
 It is customary that a person, usually an immediate friend of the family, but not a family member, to act as an usher, receiving guests and showing them to their seats.
Upon entry of the house of mourning, gentlemen must remove their hats, and not place them upon their heads again whilst inside the house.
 It is also extremely rude to laugh, talk loudly or expect to talk to the immediate family at the funeral. All animosities with the deceased should be put aside and forgotten.
 After the remembrance of the deceased, the Priest, Clergyman, Undertaker or person proceeding the funeral will enter the first carriage, with the coffin being entered behind in the hearse, the six pallbearers will walk, 3 aside of the hearse (or in some cases in a carriage in front of the hearse).
 The carriage directly behind the hearse should contain the immediate family of the deceased, followed by other family members.
 Whilst the body of the deceased is being carried by the pallbearers, and whilst the funeral procession passes them ALL guests, male and female should uncover and bow their heads as a mark of respect.
 In some quarters, it is common that, before the funeral procession leaves to the cemetery, mourners are allowed a chance to lay on the coffin, white flowers or blossoms on a married person. If the deceased was of the Navy or military (sometimes the Police Force) a sash, sword, flag or some other memorial adornment may be laid upon the coffin at this point.
 At the cemetery, the Clergymen (person proceeding the funeral) enters the cemetery first and precedes the mourners to the grave-site. Followed by the pallbearer’s with the coffin, once the mourners have gathered, the pallbearers will lower the deceased into their final resting place. The Clergyman will recite the final prayers, and the mourners will depart to their homes.
The people of Australia have settled upon no prescribed periods for the wearing of mourning. Some wear them long after their hearts have ceased to mourn. Where there is profound grief, no rules are needed, but where the sorrow is not so great, there is need of observance of fixed periods for wearing mourning. Australian etiquette Melbourne: People’s Publishing Co., 1886.
NEXT WEEK: Death in the Victorian Era part 6: The Graveyard Walker
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Death in the Victorian Era part 4 – Post Mortem Photography


Death in the Victorian Era (part 4)
 – Post Mortem Photography 
“What a comfort it is to possess the image of those who are removed from our sight. We may raise an image of them in our minds but that has not the tangibility of one we can see with our bodily eyes.”- Flora A.Windeyer, in a letter to Rev. John Blomfield, November 1870.

 It was common place, for those that could afford it in the Victorian Era, to have portraits of family members commissioned during their life time, or upon death. With the invention of photography, a far cheaper form of memorial portrait came into existence, “post-mortem photography”, also known as ‘Memento Mori’ (In Latin “Remember that you must die” or in Art; an object, such as a skull (or photograph) as a reminder of death or mortality).

 A photograph would be taken of the deceased loved one, sometimes laying in their coffin, or they might be propped up in a chair sitting amongst living family members or posed, through specially made apparatus, to be standing, as if alive, posed with their favourite possessions.
The usual practice was for the deceased to appear as if they were sleeping peacefully.
 On occasion children would be made to sit beside their dead relative for a photo, could you imagine how disturbing this must’ve been for a young child?
 The whole experience was to remember the deceased loved one, who would soon be buried, and to be able to gaze upon then that one last time. Some families even went to the trouble of having postcards made of the deceased person to send to family members on the other side of the country, or world!
Next Week: Death in the Victorian Era part 5: Victorian Funeral Etiquette
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Death in the Victorian Era part 4 – Post Mortem Photography


Death in the Victorian Era (part 4)
 – Post Mortem Photography 
“What a comfort it is to possess the image of those who are removed from our sight. We may raise an image of them in our minds but that has not the tangibility of one we can see with our bodily eyes.”- Flora A.Windeyer, in a letter to Rev. John Blomfield, November 1870.

 It was commonplace, for those that could afford it in the Victorian Era, to have portraits of family members commissioned during their lifetime, or upon death. With the invention of photography, a far cheaper form of memorial portrait came into existence, “post-mortem photography”, also known as ‘Memento Mori’ (In Latin “Remember that you must die” or in Art; an object, such as a skull (or photograph) as a reminder of death or mortality).

 A photograph would be taken of the deceased loved one, sometimes laying in their coffin, or they might be propped up in a chair sitting amongst living family members or posed, through specially made apparatus, to be standing, as if alive, posed with their favourite possessions.
The usual practice was for the deceased to appear as if they were sleeping peacefully.
 On occasion, children would be made to sit beside their dead relative for a photo, could you imagine how disturbing this must’ve been for a young child?
 The whole experience was to remember the deceased loved one, who would soon be buried, and to be able to gaze upon than that one last time. Some families even went to the trouble of having postcards made of the deceased person to send to family members on the other side of the country, or the world!
Next Week: Death in the Victorian Era part 5: Victorian Funeral Etiquette
follow on facebook: 
 

Death in the Victorian Era part 3: Funeral Customs and Superstitions


Death in the Victorian Era part 3: 
Funeral Customs and Superstitions

 Victorian Era customs pertaining to death were very strict, and most people of the era abided by them, believing that bad things could happen to them if they did not.
 It was customary upon the time of death (or as close to it as possible) to stop all the clocks in the house (to stop bad luck), to draw all the curtains in the house and cover all the mirrors with sheets of crape to stop the spirit of the recently deceased getting trapped inside the mirror.
 Sometimes family photos would be placed face down in the home, which was thought to prevent the recently deceased from possessing the living relatives.

Wreaths would be tied to the front door, lychgate or sometimes front fence, usually made of laurel, yew or boxwood, adorned with black ribbons, to signify a death in the house.
 The body of the deceased would usually be washed and laid out in his or her finest clothing in a room of the house. A family member would then sit with the body for 3 to 4 days, 24 hours a day, just to make sure they were actually dead. This is where we get the modern term “a wake” from.
 The room would be filled with flowers, scented candles, sometimes pine branches or anything else suitable to mask smells that would inevitably come from the deceased body.
 Some families would also take a photo with the body, this was known as ‘Memento Mori’ (of which I’ll be explaining in next week’s blog).
 In latter periods of the Victorian Era, it also became common place for the deceased person’s body to be carried from the home feet first, restricting the spirit from looking back into the home and beckoning another family member to follow him to death.
 Children’s deaths however were treated a little differently as their innocence was often honoured by white coffins and white silk sheets, white gloves, and on occasion, where available, ostrich plumes

 Some of the many superstitions from the period include:
Never wear new clothes, shoes or jewellery to a funeral.
 
Rain on a funeral procession is a sign that the deceased is going to Heaven.
 
If you hear a clap of thunder following a burial it indicates that the soul of the departed has reached heaven.
 
If a number of deaths have occurred in the one house or family, the tying of black ribbons to anything living that is to enter ones house, including dogs, cats and other pets, will protect against death spreading within the household.

You may have heard this one in your youth, I certainly remember it:
 Cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t escape and the devil cannot enter your body. This also applies to someone saying “bless you” after sneezing, stopping your soul escaping and a roaming spirit possessing your body!

It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around.  If this is unavoidable, hold on to a button or religious medallion until the funeral cortege passes.

There are whole heap of superstition from this period relating directly to someone you know dying, including, but not limited to the following:

If you see an owl in the daytime, there will be a death.
If you see yourself in a dream, your death will follow.
If you dream about a birth, someone you know will die.
If a picture falls off the wall, there will be a death of someone you know.
If a firefly/lightning bug gets into your house someone will soon die.
If you smell roses when none are around someone is going to die.

If a bird pecks on your window or crashes into one that there has been a death.
If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.
Two deaths in the family means that a third is sure to follow.
 Of course, being a superstitious time in human history, there were a number that dealt with ghosts 
and haunting, including the following:
Never speak ill of the dead because they will come back to haunt you or you will suffer misfortune.

If you hear 3 knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. The superstitious call this the 3 knocks of death. 
Maybe you’ve heard other Victorian Era superstitions, or your family, or culture has their own traditions and superstitions, join me over on facebook and start a discussion about your own beliefs on this subject – you can find the page here:
Next Week: Death in the Victorian Era part 4 – Post Mortem Photography

Death in the Victorian Era part 3: Funeral Customs and Superstitions


Death in the Victorian Era part 3: 
Funeral Customs and Superstitions

 Victorian Era customs pertaining to death were very strict, and most people of the era abided by them, believing that bad things could happen to them if they did not.
 It was customary upon the time of death (or as close to it as possible) to stop all the clocks in the house (to stop bad luck), to draw all the curtains in the house and cover all the mirrors with sheets of crape to stop the spirit of the recently deceased getting trapped inside the mirror.
 Sometimes family photos would be placed face down in the home, which was thought to prevent the recently deceased from possessing the living relatives.

Wreaths would be tied to the front door, lychgate or sometimes front fence, usually made of laurel, yew or boxwood, adorned with black ribbons, to signify a death in the house.

 The body of the deceased would usually be washed and laid out in his or her finest clothing in a room of the house. A family member would then sit with the body for 3 to 4 days, 24 hours a day, just to make sure they were actually dead. This is where we get the modern term “a wake” from.
 The room would be filled with flowers, scented candles, sometimes pine branches or anything else suitable to mask smells that would inevitably come from the deceased body.
 Some families would also take a photo with the body, this was known as ‘Memento Mori’ (of which I’ll be explaining in next week’s blog).
 In later periods of the Victorian Era, it also became commonplace for the deceased person’s body to be carried from the home feet first, restricting the spirit from looking back into the home and beckoning another family member to follow him to death.
 Children’s deaths however were treated a little differently as their innocence was often honoured by white coffins and white silk sheets, white gloves, and on occasion, where available, ostrich plumes

 Some of the many superstitions from the period include:
Never wear new clothes, shoes or jewellery to a funeral.
 
Rain on a funeral procession is a sign that the deceased is going to Heaven.
 
If you hear a clap of thunder following a burial it indicates that the soul of the departed has reached heaven.
 
If a number of deaths have occurred in the one house or family, the tying of black ribbons to anything living that is to enter ones house, including dogs, cats and other pets, will protect against death spreading within the household.

You may have heard this one in your youth, I certainly remember it:
 Cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t escape and the devil cannot enter your body. This also applies to someone saying “bless you” after sneezing, stopping your soul escaping and a roaming spirit possessing your body!

It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head-on. If you see one approaching, turn around.  If this is unavoidable, hold on to a button or religious medallion until the funeral cortege passes.

There are lots of superstition from this period relating directly to someone you know dying, including, but not limited to the following:

If you see an owl in the daytime, there will be a death.
If you see yourself in a dream, your death will follow.
If you dream about a birth, someone you know will die.
If a picture falls off the wall, there will be a death of someone you know.
If a firefly/lightning bug gets into your house someone will soon die.
If you smell roses when none are around someone is going to die.

If a bird pecks on your window or crashes into one that there has been a death.
If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.
Two deaths in the family means that a third is sure to follow.
 Of course, being a superstitious time in human history, there were a number that dealt with ghosts 
and haunting, including the following:
Never speak ill of the dead because they will come back to haunt you or you will suffer misfortune.

If you hear 3 knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. The superstitious call this the 3 knocks of death. 
Maybe you’ve heard other Victorian Era superstitions, or your family, or culture has their own traditions and superstitions, join me over on facebook and start a discussion about your own beliefs on this subject – you can find the page here:
Next Week: Death in the Victorian Era part 4 – Post Mortem Photography