Gone But Not Forgotten: Victorian Mourning Customs

Date November 12, 2017
Time 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Event Description

Gone But Not Forgotten: Victorian Mourning Customs
Hearthside House Museum, 677 Great Road, Lincoln, RI 02865 
(401) 726-0597

2017 Dates:
Saturday, Oct. 28th 4-7 p.m. (candlelight)
Sunday, Nov 5th 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11th 4-7 p.m. (candlelight)
Sunday, Nov. 12th 1-4 p.m.

Hearthside, and all of its volunteers, is draped in black, giving all who pass by the message that this is a house in mourning. The occasion is the funeral of former Hearthside owner, Simon E. Thornton, who died on May 2, 1873. His body was prepared at the house by the undertaker, who came with his equipment and a portable embalming table. The coffin was displayed in the Drawing Room where visitors would come and pay their respects. Following the ceremony, the coffin would be carried out of the house and into a waiting hearse to bring it to the gravesite for burial. In October, Hearthside is set up to re-create the Victorian mourning customs practiced during the time when Simon Thornton passed away. Each room in the house has displays of mourning clothing, jewelry, artwork, stationery displays, post mortem photography, and other funerary exhibits. A funeral ceremony concluded the exhibit, complete with an 1868 hearse.

Everyone who visits an old house invariably asks the question "Is the house haunted?" Some have hinted that they have experienced strange feelings in one room or another, or heard noises while in the house alone. On occasion, we have hosted programs to explore spiritual happenings. Learn more

Every October, Hearthside House goes into mourning. It's all part of the annual exhibition, "Gone But Not Forgotten: Victorian Mourning & Funeral Customs," in which each room in the 10-room museum is transformed to recreate the scene of a typical wake and funeral of the 19th century. The solemn occasion is a depiction of a household in mourning, in this case, for the death of Hearthside owner Simon E. Thornton, who died there in 1873.

Featured in the exhibit is an antique wicker coffin, used to transport bodies to the grave, and the funeral book in which Simon E. Thornton's death was recorded by the undertaker. A portable embalming table and the undertaker's embalming equipment is set up in the same bedroom where Simon Thornton took his last breath.

In addition to Victorian funerary memorabilia, objects on exhibit include Victorian mourning clothing, jewelry made from the hair of the deceased, black-bordered stationery, and post-mortem photographs in which family members pose with dead loved ones propped up in a life-like positions.

This is not a Halloween event, but rather a carefully researched exhibit about these traditions which have led to modern day funeral practices.

Candlelight tours on Saturday, October 28th and Saturday Nov 11th are held at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. Advance reservation is recommended due to limited space. Cost is $10 general admission. 
Candlelight tours on Sunday afternoon Nov 5th and 12th are held every half hour between 1-4 p.m. with the last admission at 3:00. Admission is $8 for afternoon tours. 
Call Hearthside at (401) 726-0597 or email kathy.hartley@hearthsidehouse.org for reservations. Details

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