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photo gravestone

Local Knowledge – Joshua Scamp

On 12th January 2013, I scanned another of Wilfred Chaplin’s glass plate negatives.  It was the image you see here. There is no text or help in identifying Wilfred’s images.  The museum was only given the glass plates, no index book, or such, with them. But I recognised it straight away. I was a member of the local Cyclists’ Touring Club for many decades.  Every Sunday, those cyclists, many of whom were decades older than me, showed me all the local items of interest.  Local meant within 50 miles of Salisbury.  However, this gravestone is not far from Salisbury, and there is a story to go with it.   It is in Odstock churchyard.

If you go to Odstock, you will still find it there, but today in a poor condition.  This photograph of Wilfred’s shows that then, even after 100 years, it was still in extremely good condition.  I suspect Wilfred photographed it in 1951 which is 150 years after Joshua Scamp died.  I wonder who, for all that time, had kept the gravestone in such a clean condition.

The associated story I was told, was that Joshua’s son stole a horse.  The penalty for such a crime was hanging.  Joshua offered to be hanged in place of his son.  This happened.  Joshua’s wife put a curse on the church such that, if anyone locked the church door, then they would die within a year.  Twice the church door was locked and twice the curse came true.

If you look up Joshua Scamp on Google, now, you will find quite a few hits with versions of this story.  The stories appear to have been written since I scanned this plate back in 2013.  Many of the stories claim Joshua was 40 years old when he died, whereas the image here of the near perfect tombstone clearly shows he was 50 years old.  Go and look at the original tombstone and see the addition of a metal plate with further text.  Wilfred’s image shows how, after the first 150 years, the legend has grown and the evidence altered!  Note, however, that there was, even back in Wilfred’s time, a wild rose growing behind the tombstone.

As regular readers will know, volunteer Alan Clarke looks after our photograph collection. His observations are an endless source of delight, and bring these photos to life again.