Sunday, 12 June 2016

Visiting the grave of Helen Macfarlane, Chartist journalist

Heading up to Chester for this year's Chartism Day (more of which later) I stopped off at the tiny Cheshire village of Baddiley. 

Here, in the rather beautiful and peaceful surroundings of St Michael's church, is buried Helen Macfarlane - or, as it says on her gravestone, "Helen, wife of the Revd John W Edwards."

Helen Macfarlane's grave.
Macfarlane is best remembered today (at least in certain circles) as the first translator of the Communist Manifesto into English. But this was merely the headline of a wider career in Chartist journalism, writing primarily for the Red Republican newspaper.

However, if you are in Cheshire, I do recommend a visit. It is a long drive up a very narrow track and the church itself appears to nestle quietly between a couple of farms rather than at the heart of a bustling village.

But standing there in the churchyard of St Michael's is probably the closest you will ever get to a real Chartist. And as you stand next to her grave, you begin to wonder at what went through the head of this ferociously intellectual thinker on theology and politics as she watched her husband write his weekly sermons.

Had she abandoned her earlier ideas and ideologies and settled for the life of a Church of England vicar's wife? Did she contribute to those sermons? And if so, what did her husband's parishioners make of them?

St Michael's Church, Baddiley.

No comments: