Cestrian Book of the Dead

Cestrian Book of the Dead

From a certain sloop near the Crane,

John Blundell, in a stupor. At Denwall,

from a scaffold, Robert Mason, while caulking the stern.


Near Finchett’s Gutter, cast up by the tide

a woman with no name, like the young male child

found at Brewers Hall, where the Roundheads took siege.


By the Shipgate at Le Posterne in 1586

Boniventrus Hanky, taken while bathing, whence,

six years on Lizzy Horton took her own.


Mary Turtle, while of unsound mind.

A yeoman at Burton who threw himself in.

William Cowpack, while gathering daisys in the spring.


William, son of James Eason, barber,

while reaching for a Beesom's tail or wand

floating on the necromantic Dee.


On Ascension Day at Le Hollyne in 1552

Agnes Coppocke and Elizabeth Symcoke went down.

At the Cage while washing clothes, a spinster.


Sailors by the fierce flow of water swept,

Domyngo de Sasarendo and Farnando de Vitaer

between Blaken Hed and Burton Hed.


The children of John Justice, a labourer,

while bathing near the fulling mill. Walter Blunkett,

in a mill race at the walke milnes.


Cut off by the tide while crossing the Salt Grass.

A boat overturned near the Stewbridge Gutter.

Plunge hole near the Sluices lately erected.


Ann Harrison while crossing the Shotwick ford,

one Tuesday in January 1753. Thomas, on Friday,

went the way of his wife into the Book of the Dead.



A found poem adapted from Chester City Coroner records.


Beesom's tail – besom: a broom made of twigs tied around a pole. Association with witchcraft.

Cage, the – Salmon cage near the weir at Chester.

Crane, the – former boat yards located near the Watergate in Chester.

Denwall – probably Denhall, near Neston in Wirral.

Finchett’s Gutter – drainage channel that feeds into the River Dee near Chester.

Le Hollyne – location not known.

Le Posterne – from Old French, meaning ‘gate’ or ‘entrance’; the Shipgate or Bridgegate in Chester.

Stewbridge Gutter – location not known.

Walke milnes – fulling mills.




December 2013