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16 October 2014


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Quarff Chapel - Thomas Telford

Quarf Chapel is quite a feature in East Quarf. It dates from around the mid 1800's after Telford died in 1834 aged 77. It stands surrounded by peat bogs, which are still used, but not so much as in earlier times. The chapel is now no longer used, services being held in the Old Manse on the old Lerwick Road. The Chapel was built to a Thomas Telford design; Telford had produced a design book for some of the new towns that grew in Scotland as he built his famous road system which formed the backbone of Scotland's growth. Apparently his design books had every detail neatly put and by ticking the right boxes one could arrive at the structure that suited your use and budget. It was based on numbers likely to use a building, how they traveled, where it was and other weather factors. The Manse for example was designed bearing in mind its usage, did the Minister have a coach and horses, did he have a house hold or just a small gig and one maid, the design would accommodate the deferences. When the decisions had been made all the detail to build was available to a builder, no need for a QS. Very advanced for its time.

Telford would today be considered a workaholic, his work regime started in early morning and did not end until late at night. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest Civil Engineers of all time, many of his methods are still used, his training is still relevant.

The grave yard at Quarf is however, still used, it is kept very neatly by the Council and I have seen several funerals held there during my stay Quarff. It has a fine outlook seaward and having seen a memorial to one of the crew of HMS Hood, would feel quite honoured to be buried in such a place, even though I am a Cornishman, my great grandfather is buried at St Just-in-Roseland, perhaps the prettiest Church in Cornwall certainly. Its view over Falmouth Harbour and bay is stupendous.

The other curious factor I noticed at Quarf Chapel is that many married couples are buried using there family name, for example a wife will bear her fathers name rather than her husbands. Perhaps this shows part of the individuality and the strength of will of Shetland women.

Posted on LerwickTrevor at 19:16


Just a little note to say that at all graveyards in Shetland most of the women buried have their maiden names on their head stone.

Sally from Shetland

Thanks Sally, I was wondering what was the rationale for that. Was it something peculiar to the crofting community.

Lerwick Trevor from Lerwick

What an amazing picture - and very interesting blog...

Shani from Bristol

Really interesting, thanks.

Andrew from Nuneaton

was it snowing in Quarff today?

scallowawife from shetland

I think its an old scottish tradition to put wife's family name on grave stones. There are some quite old and barely legible examples in St. Magnus and I have seen it elsewhere.The St Magnus examples include town folk so I don't think it is a crofting tradition. At the back of my mind there is some recollection of it having something to do with scots inheritance law; the wife's property did not pass in its entirety to her husband unlike south of the border. Just a thought, why do catholic priests live in presbyteries but presbyterean ministers live in manses?

Hyper-Borean from A different little acre

Not really sure why the women have their maiden names on their head stones, it just seems to be the done thing. I don't think its a crofting tradtion, its just a tradition.

Sally from Shetland

Scallowawife, Father in law tells me it snowed on Scousburgh thinly or it may have been Sumburgh and not Scousburgh, but that picture is one I took last year and liked. I see from the blog that it did snow on Fitfall. Thanks for the feed back from all on gravestone names, quite a nice tradition.

Lerwick Trevor from Lerwick

Snow fell on Rousay this week, and a pretty picture it made too.

Barebraes from Shapinsay

Yayyyyyyyy! Up the wimmin!

Flying Cat from a suffragist stance

Trev it's FITFUL as in players of happy memory.

Hyper-Borean from The stage door

The other day, there was a sprinkling of snow on Scousburgh Hill - we see it out the other side of the house. But Fitful was well & truly covered in snow.

Soljey from Shetland Mainland

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