History and reference books come in all shapes and sizes and on a very large variety of subjects; everything from the beginning of the human species, the birth of civilisation, the rise and fall of the Romans, Kings and Queens such as the Tudors and the Stuarts and lots, lots more. Whilst I do like reading a bit about history and the history of things, I never thought that I would read a book about hearses and funerals, and even more surprisingly, actually finding it quite interesting! In the UK, funerals and death are not things that are really discussed, and whilst UK law states that everybody has to be buried or cremated, there are no laws requiring everybody has to have a funeral.
Death, funerals and hearses are something that we all, inevitably, will experience in our lives and even the simplest funeral can be quite involved. The British Hearse and The British Funeral by N. M. Scott is a very good educational/reference pictorial book looking into the traditions of funerals and the transportation methods used in Britain to take the dead to their final resting places.
Whilst most, like me, would think that this book would only be of interest to those in the funeral trade, it will also appeal to history buffs and classic car enthusiasts and I found it to be quite interesting.
The book covers quite a lot including the ceremonial pomp of funerals of important people such as the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, William Gladstone, Queen Victoria, Sir Winston Churchill and many more. It illustrates the rise of the hearse from its humble beginnings as a horse drawn cart to the now familiar motorised hearse that we see on our roads today.
The British Hearse and The British Funeral is quite a large book, think of a landscape page of A4 paper, and is 160 pages in length. It features 140 photos and drawings of funerals and hearses, telling the history behind them. It is a rather unique look into a part of British history that rarely comes up.
Despite the rather sombre subject matter, I found this book quite interesting to read. It has been very well written and put together so as to not bore the reader. It covers funerals, funeral cars & funeral transportation separately and I found it quite informative, especially as it had the history behind things thrown in as well.
This book has been painstaking researched and features over 100 never before seen photographs.
If you have an interest in history and transport then this book is quite an interesting read, especially as it on a topic that I would imagine most people have never read about. Whilst it is not a book for most people due to the sombre subject matter, the vintage and monochrome photos show how important funerals are to us as a human race and how we like to give our loved ones the best send-off we can. Some of the state funerals featured are really lavish affairs.
An interesting pictorial book of British funerals and the transportation used to get to the cemetery, but probably not one for the coffee table.
RRP: £19.99 (Hardback)
Available to buy from Amazon here.