Claines is a far cry from the Lake District, so often associated with Wordsworth
but we have two Claines connections, not known to many.
Firstly on the South Nave wall of the Church there is a handsome memorial to Frances
Fermor. On her death Wordsworth composed an “Elegiac Stanza” entitled “Cenotaph”
which he addressed to Sir George Howland Beaumont, the brother-in-law of Frances,
himself an English painter. The inscription was used on a Cenotaph erected in the
grounds of Sir Georges home in Coleorton, Leicestershire and is introduced with the
“In affectionate remembrance of Frances Fermor, whose remains are deposited in the
church of Claines, near Worcester, this stone is erected by her sister, Dame Margaret,
wife of Sir George Beaumont, Bart, who, feeling not less than the love of a brother
for the deceased, commends this memorial to the care of his heirs and successors
in the possession of this place”
“Cenotaph” was composed in 1824, the year of her death and published in 1842.
By vain affections unenthralled
Though resolute when duty called
To met the world’s broad eye,
Pure as the holiest cloistered nun
That ever feared the tempting sun
Did Fermor live and die.
This tablet hallowed by her name,
One heart-relieving tear may claim;
But if the pensive gloom
Of fond regret be still thy choice,
Exalt they spirit, hear the voice
Of Jesus from her tomb!
“ I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE”
William Wordsworth 1824
Secondly, we have “Miserrimus.”, remembering Thomas Morris.
Thomas Morris (1668-1748) was Vicar of Claines (1689) and also a Minor Canon of
Worcester Cathedral. He refused to take the oath of allegiance to William the Third,
believing in the divine right of hereditary sovereigns, and was dismissed from his
post and also from being Vicar of Claines. He lingered on for many years, 'kindly,
cheerful old man', dying in great poverty. His grave in the Cloisters, near the South
West Door, close to, but outside of the Cathedral, bears the epitaph he requested
'Miserrimus,' (the most miserable of men). This short and sad epitaph inspired one
of Wordsworth’s sonnets, shown below. This is considered by some to be an unjust
sonnet, for it assumes that this solitary word means vileness, whereas he was probably
just the saddest of the sad.
A GRAVESTONE UPON THE FLOOR IN THE CLOISTERS OF WORCESTER CATHEDRAL