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Glastonbury Lady Carver

This is a fascinating unknown carver, dubbed by Dr. Ernest Caulfield, who worked on sandstone in the first half of the eighteenth century. His stones are found in many of the old burial grounds on both sides of the Connecticut River and adjacent areas. Some of his stones are simple and unornamented. These are usually recognized by the ornate shape of the tops of the stones which have a central convexity, become concave as they slope laterally and rise to an elevated rounded knob at the corners. Sometimes this undulate top has additional scrolls and rounded knob-like protuberances. The Glastonbury Lady also produced some striking and very beautiful, if bizarre, stones with heavy-faced cherubim in three-dimensional relief, a most unusual feature for the place and period in which he worked (1720s-1740s). On the most elaborate of these stones there is sometimes a peculiar swirling necklace-like circle below the faced giving an appearance vaguely like the fringed collars worn by Elizabethan gentlemen. Also attributed to this carver are some simple (and wonderful) pumpkin-like or scarecrow faces. Two striking features that suggest that a single carver may be involved is the shape of the ampersand which has the "tail" strongly protruding upward and the small letter "a" which is strongly bulging or pot-bellied (Dr. Caulfield considered these to be definitive recognition features). Nevertheless, there are stones that are rather thick, as are most of those by the Stanclifts, and very thin ones so more than one individual may be involved. The John and Love Mack stones (1734, 1735) are probated to John Mervin (=Marvin) of Lyme. Dr. Caulfield seemed to feel that he was an agent, for he did not live near Middletown nor did his own probate records indicate that he was a stone cutter. Nevertheless, after John Marvin died in 1741, stones by the Glastonbury Lady also disappear so that more study of this possibility is warranted. It is also true that Glastonbury Lady stones are carved on the same material as are most Stanclift stones and occur for the most part in burying grounds where Stanclift stones are common. Perhaps they were indeed carved by a Stanclift-James II being chronologically the most likely prospect. One should note that the John Holmes stone in East Haddam has Stanclift-type rosettes (as does the Love Mack stone for that matter). Dr. Caulfield mentions other possibilities. It is a tale that only detailed research can unravel.

From: Slater, James A. The Colonial Burying Grounds of Eastern Connecticut and the Men Who Made Them. Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts & Sciences, vol. 21. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1987.
Homer Babbidge Library call number f/Q/11/C85/v.21