The Tale of Wendy Edwards and The Bonkers Stone

(otherwise known as The Oast House Crescent Rockery with St. John the Evangelist mini memorial stone)

In January 2020, when only snowdrops adorned St. John’s churchyard, Wendy Edwards had a pleasant chat there with Sam Taylor, a stonemason with K & S Memorials in Alton and his young assistant, Danny.

They were giving after-care to a memorial stone they had made and spoke enthusiastically to Wendy about their work.  Wendy told them of the Flower Festival planned later in the year and Sam kindly agreed to make a mini-memorial stone which originally Wendy planned to have inside church with a flower arrangement nearby to showcase the  important work of memorial stonemasons in our grief journey.

When we decided to have an online Flower Festival, Sam confirmed he was still OK to make the stone but where could Wendy put it now, with St. John’s closed? She wanted to put it in her and her husband Steve’s own back garden in Oast House Crescent which has a large rockery. The rocks are lovely, weathered and covered in slow-growing moss and lichen and very characterful.

Steve does not attend church but is very understanding and patient with Wendy and her church work. Wendy knew she needed to ask Steve whether it was acceptable to him to have a mini memorial stone in their back garden, as it is a little unusual! She told him over a cup of tea in their garden that she had had a ‘bonkers’ idea and explained it all to him, rather nervous that he might say ‘No’. To her surprise, he agreed to the plan and to helping Wendy position the stone, but he has ever after called the stone The Bonkers Stone!

Sam Taylor worked hard on the memorial stone over at K & S Memorials in Alton. He delivered the stone one day to Wendy and Steve’s garden. It is only 17 inches high, made with some spare stone, with a colourful design featuring an eagle for St. John the Evangelist and a snake emerging from a chalice, a reference to the legend that St. John the Evangelist was offered poisoned wine and instructed the poison to come out and it did, in the form of a snake. Sam also  loaned them some of his tools and explained all about his interesting work. The eagle-eyed among you will spot the tools in some of the photos among the summer flowers.

If you would  like to read all about Sam’s work as a stonemason, the tools he uses and about K & S Memorials, please see this link to the profile of K & S Memorials and the men behind the Oast House Crescent Rockery St. John the Evangelist mini memorial stone.

This  online flower festival entry is by many people who all kindly donated flowers, foliage, or containers or, in the case of Wendy’s husband, Steve, in the first week of his retirement, whittled two rosewood pegs to position the upright stone temporarily.  Wendy did most of the 10 flower arrangements, but Sue Crawshaw donated a beautiful one with white campanula (hare bells).

Wendy’s thanks go to Steve Edwards, K & S Memorials, especially Sam Taylor and Michael Thorne; Steve’s parents, Hazel and Brian Edwards; members of a parish bereavement support group Corner Chat- Vicky Kidney, Margaret Foster, Jackie Hyne, Dario Alexander, and Jenny Golding; neighbours of Wendy and Steve’s in Oast House Crescent – Sue Crawshaw, Andy and Lindsay Dunne, Valerie Handl, Charlotte Strugnell, Margaret Hockey and Pat Manton.

Thank you all so much for your support.  

                                                                       Wendy Edwards

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