Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Bill Peschel's wonderfully macabre piece on the 'resurrection' of John Milton puts me in mind of the fate suffered by Laurence Sterne's ill-fated remains. Sterne was eventually reburied in 1969 in the churchyard of St Michael's, Coxwold, where the old reprobate had been parson - but even this was (inevitably) no straightforward affair. When his tomb at St George's was reopened, it was found to contain no fewer that five skulls. Reasonably enough, the one with the top sawn off was taken to be Sterne's and removed to Coxwold, along with miscellaneous bones which may or may not have been his. Even the marking of his grave in Coxwold is unstraightforward; there are two gravestones, one full of errors, the other corrected. A lovely village, Coxwold, by the way, and Sterne's parsonage home is open to visitors. I think I wrote a piece about it years ago, but I may be wrong.