What to pack for hospital

Charles 4 Comments

There’s an engaging little story in January’s Funeral Service Journal describing the custom at Norwich Great Hospital, back in the medieval day, requiring those who had fallen into indigent, aged decrepitude (50+ female BBC presenters, for example) to bring with them, as their entry pass, a coffin. Not so different perhaps from today when you would be well advised to do just that were you unfortunate enough to be borne to Stafford Hospital, the sort of place that undertakers toast at Christmas parties.

But it turned out that the doddering ancients in Norwich Great Hospital thoughtlessly used their coffins as cupboards. Some of these coffins, when the time came to use them for their proper purpose, were found to be worn out. So the hospital changed the custom. Instead of a coffin, prospective entrants were required to bring £1 to pay for a shroud when their time came.

Roof boss at the Great Hospital, Norwich, depicting the Ascension. Dig the soles of Christ’s feet as he ascends.

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13 years ago

Charles, if you, or anyone else for that matter, would like to read more about burials and funerals back in the day, I can heartily recommend a fabulous book called Necropolis – London and it’s dead by Catharine Arnold. It’s gripping stuff! May I link you to Amazon?


Charles Cowling
13 years ago

Nicola, thank you. This is one I haven’t got.

Jon Underwood
13 years ago

Purchased! Thanks Nicola

Rupert Callender
13 years ago

I like your uncharacteristic Freudian born/borne slip. You’ve been in this world (but not of it..) too long Charles.