View Full Version : How do I clean a gravestone?

Loose rivets
2nd Oct 2013, 12:00
At last I found my way back to a Colchester grave that I'd promised myself I'd tend to four years ago. It has a cross that's leaning over a tad, but not enough to risk breaking anything. However, the marble-like stone is very dingy and the lead? inset writing is lost in roughness and moss.

The lead is very poorly set in. Should have been a deeper cut. But it's what is. I need to clean the stone and the writing, but don't want to do damage.

Any ideas?

2nd Oct 2013, 12:15
I would try using neat bleach in a plant sprayer, that will get rid of any algae. Give it a few minutes then a gentle wash down with soap and water. Good luck.

2nd Oct 2013, 13:17
Do NOT use any form of chemicals for cleaning. They will all etch the stone and the lettering and cause more damage. Elbow grease, water, and stiff scrubbing brushes are the only way to clean a gravestone without initiating more damage.

Cemetery expert offers gravestone cleaning tips - Daily Astorian: Local News (http://www.dailyastorian.com/news/local/cemetery-expert-offers-gravestone-cleaning-tips/article_e6af5bda-c4c6-11e2-ac53-0019bb2963f4.html)

wings folded
2nd Oct 2013, 13:20
Let the owner do the job.

2nd Oct 2013, 13:21
My sister just went through this process for an old gravestone of a relative, I shall contact her tonight and ask her what she did.

I would NOT recommend using bleach as it will have a destructive effect on the stone if it's porous.

2nd Oct 2013, 13:22
Maybe worth a look here:
How to Clean Marble | Cleaning Guides (http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-marble/)

2nd Oct 2013, 14:12
As others have said: be VERY careful what you put on it. There are substances that will clean the stone but will weaken it, so that in a few years' time the inscriptions will be illegible and/or the metal infills will drop out.

We have a contract with a local monumental mason who visits periodically to straighten leaning stones (where possible) and repair where necessary. It's not horribly expensive: we had 20 or so fixed in the last batch, for 1,100 incl VAT.

If it's a very old stone and leaning, take advice before trying to straighten it, or you may end up with the above-ground bit broken off.

More recent stones have a long spike or spikes into the ground to keep them vertical: those can be realigned when necessary. There was a time when the spikes weren't long enough, and the stones fell flat in wet and windy weather.

if you you look on the back of the gravestone at the bottom, you will normally see in small print the name of the firm that installed it. Very often, they will quote you a reasonable price to repair it.

Check also what the local rules are - ask a churchwarden! Some work on gravestones in churchyards needs a "faculty" (a sort of ecclesiastical planning permission, aimed at stopping some of the excesses that could otherwise happen).

2nd Oct 2013, 14:19

Let the owner do the job.Was thinking much the same.:eek:

tony draper
2nd Oct 2013, 14:59
I want one like this.:rolleyes:
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a194/Deaddogbay/second%20album/LI-GL-071b_zps8c3c7a90.jpg (http://s11.photobucket.com/user/Deaddogbay/media/second%20album/LI-GL-071b_zps8c3c7a90.jpg.html)
Or a Pyramid.

2nd Oct 2013, 15:29
How big a pyramid ?

German cemetaries have shops where you can buy gravestone cleaner and rulers and straight edges to make sure any grass grown around the grave is exacly 50mm high plus or minus 0.1mm. I've never seen colour cards to make sure the grass is exactly the right colour but I am sure you can find them in German shops.

Loose rivets
2nd Oct 2013, 21:39
Well, two of these three lie there. And the ashes of one of their daughters - my mother. Strangely, my grandmother was buried elsewhere, and I gather from an old document it was not too far from her last home just 5 miles NNW from Marble Arch.

Despite Milo's and other forum member's help, I can't find anymore about my grandfather. the CEO of . . . well, this.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/walnaze/Family/Rathborne.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/walnaze/media/Family/Rathborne.jpg.html)

Anyway, maternal gran was buried in a graveyard with the security of not being disturbed. 'In perpetuity' the document says. Mmm . . . I know the law hates perpetuities - in the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, so I'm not counting on finding it still undisturbed. I've not located the place, but I intend to try. This trip home, I'll just be pleased to bring out, Elizibeth Mary Bennett's name and her loving daughter, Beatrix, the great aunt that took my father's place. Strange how these things take on such significance in one's later years.

This glass plate I've shown several times, but it's of interest I'm sure, to photographers as well as maudlin descendants. Incredible how much they knew about grinding a lens in those days.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/walnaze/Family/BennettGlassPlateHi.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/walnaze/media/Family/BennettGlassPlateHi.jpg.html)

2nd Oct 2013, 21:58
On my trip to the UK this year I promised myself that I would pay a visit to my grandmother and grandfathers grave. I found the cemetery almost abandoned and certainly not the neat municipal facility that I remembered from my last visit aged 9 or 10.

From memory I knew roughly where the grave was but there were huge gaps and decrepit graves. I walked along the path and virtually gave up looking. As I neared the end of the path I mentally said "C'mon Grandma - give me a sign". I took two more steps and looked to my right (I knew the grave was to the left of where I was walking) and there was the headstone! Broken into three pieces and placed on top of another decrepit grave but the headstone nevertheless. The hairs on the back of my neck started to prickle!!

That was a couple of weeks ago. And to cap it all I bought a book about the railways in Doncaster and there's a photo of my grandfather as a 15 year old as part of the carriage shops team.

2nd Oct 2013, 21:59
How big a pyramid ?Friend of mine has left instructions for a pyramid to be installed above his grave about halfway along its length, about 10inches high, and engraved

"As so Often in Life, So for all Eternity in Death".

It it will be a fitting memorial, as his many female friends can testify.

Loose rivets
2nd Oct 2013, 22:08
Looking at this in the still of an English Autumn night, my mind drifted back to a scene in my novel. The protagonist accompanies an aged professor to a tomb, and they slide the stone lid of a sarcophagus to one side.

Many years prior to writing that chapter, I'd stood for ages staring into a glass case in Colchester castle. Two skeletons lying together, 'each vertebra supported by the next'. I could almost imagine them alive but had been possessed by two quite disparate emotions: one, of course to know what the people had been like. The lips that formed over the teeth and the colour of the eyes that had filled those orbits. Another part of me was already searching for the exquisite logic that designed the blueprint to their sixty trillion cell structure.

3rd Oct 2013, 02:40
Of course, if any of your ancestors families had indulged in a sizeable, proper mausoleum - as the Italians of Far North QLD do - then you wouldn't have any of these unfortunate and niggling gravestone problems, today. :)


3rd Oct 2013, 02:56
you wouldn't have any of these unfortunate and niggling gravestone problems, today.

Whilst visiting dad last week the cemetery exhibited random signs of vandalism with mausoleums being broken into, garbage bins emptied and isolated damage to headstones. Dad's resting place was unscathed but a few doors down (can you say that) someone had their flower vases emptied and discarded onto the adjacent grave. Security was running rife that day.

Worrals in the wilds
3rd Oct 2013, 03:41
Really? That sucks. One of the things I've noticed down here is that the Italian mausoleoms don't get touched by vandals even when the rest of the place is laid to waste.

I figured it meant that even vandals had two brain cells per person, because some of those families aren't just in the restaurant business. :uhoh: Obviously that's no longer the case; hope they catch them, anyway.

3rd Oct 2013, 06:38
Wow, onetrack.
I wonder how a custom (to do something) becomes a custom.
A certain element of affordability must be involved (thinking of the pyramids, for example), but still.

Dunno. Looks quite scary to me. :\

3rd Oct 2013, 06:47
LR, beautiful photograph. Best luck with your search.

Worrals in the wilds
3rd Oct 2013, 11:21
A certain element of affordability must be involved (thinking of the pyramids, for example), but still.

It's about obligation rather than affordability. I reckon there are people who'd go hungry rather than skimp on the family mausoleum.

3rd Oct 2013, 12:08
Personally I don't care what happens to my corpse when I'm gone, just a pile of rotting meat. Hate to think of money being wasted that could be put to better use.

I'd leave my body to a medical school, but it would amuse me to have my skeleton to be owned my some ripshit of a medical student and be draped across a chair in the corner - alas illegal these days, or so I believe. Amazing the sanctity provided to a set of bones.

3rd Oct 2013, 14:22
Post mortem, I would like to be disposed of via my wheelie bin...........and get some good value out of my council tax!

I fear, however, that this will not be possible as 'elf & safety' will not allow.

3rd Oct 2013, 14:38
OFSO wrote:

German cemetaries have shops where you can buy gravestone cleaner and rulers and straight edges to make sure any grass grown around the grave is exacly 50mm high plus or minus 0.1mm.Said measurements provided by a committee who not only performed the measurements but did so over the course of a year or so. Thus arriving at the 0.1mm measurement. And said committee comprised 20 persons none of whom were over the age of 58, nor over a height of 6'. Nor could they weigh more than 190lbs, have bad eyesight, wear dentures nor could they smoke more than 1.3 packs of cigarettes per day. (A day being 16 waking hours but not one millisecond more than that.)

3rd Oct 2013, 14:40
Loose wrote:

Two skeletons lying together, 'each vertebra supported by the next'

They were skeletal but having sex? Wow! Wait 'til I run this by the Mrs. "Hey sweetheart. We can still have hot sex when we're dead and skeletal. Somethin' to look forward to, eh?" :}

3rd Oct 2013, 16:47
Yep, not quite sure what it is with Italians and Mausoleums... a throw-back to ancient Rome???

Was surprised a few months back when my Italian MiL announced she wanted my wife and I to arrange one for her... presumably post mortem - although these things can be arranged too...

It turned out she had been getting the hard-sell from some outfit offering same. The price was the biggest shock - $65,000 for starters and much more for options!!! - :eek: :eek: :eek: you can still buy a modest house in this part of the world for that.

It's her decision ultimately of course, though the thought that that amount would get a grandchild pretty much through Uni or provide a decent down-payment on a house makes you question the motivation behind it.

"When you is dead, you is DEAD!" :} :rolleyes: :}

tony draper
3rd Oct 2013, 16:56
Why bother,get yourself well planted and set and in a couple of hundred years a future Time Team will come along dig yer up pull yer teeth out and carbon date your pelvis.

3rd Oct 2013, 17:02
Or Italians and catacombs. Many moons ago I had the "fortune" of visiting the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo Sicily. Not something I've ever forgotten.

Rows and rows and corridors and corridors filled with corpses on display.






3rd Oct 2013, 17:24
Amazing the one in pink looks so lifelike!

If we all had mausoleums where on earth would the space come from apart from being a complete waste of money and effort. In the UK we are already running out of grave space.

Both my parents were cremated and I shall be too (hopefully after death). No grave to tend nor decay and descend into dilapidation.

3rd Oct 2013, 17:26
Oh M. Mouse, don't be so...so...so... whatever. Of course the one in pink seems alive. She was very, very much alive back in the day. Very alive!!!!! :mad::ok::E

3rd Oct 2013, 19:58
With Spirits, surely? :E

3rd Oct 2013, 19:59
Instead of mausoleums it's much more British to build follies.

Loose rivets
3rd Oct 2013, 21:07
The pretty girl's face is just a tad worrying. She seemed to be thinking, okay, now I've tricked you into being fastened into one of these alcoves, I'm off. No one will think of looking for you here.

3rd Oct 2013, 23:05
I know one of the facilities I am associated with cleans its marble statues with salt water, no chemicals used as they tend to erode the marble.

3rd Oct 2013, 23:09

My favorite scenes from Tombstone of Doc Holliday - YouTube


herman the crab
4th Oct 2013, 06:53
I want something like this...

Glow-in-the-Dark Grave - Only Fools and Horses - BBC - YouTube

From about 2:15 onward.


4th Oct 2013, 13:39
More to the point, it is the anniversary of my mum's birth tomorrow (1910 if anyone is interested). Since this is an important occasion each year (because without it I wouldn't be here, which some might say would be an advantage to the planet, but that's a matter of opinion) I'd like to ask you all - do you celebrate deceased parents' birthdays and if so, how ?

4th Oct 2013, 14:13
loose wrote:

The pretty girl's face is just a tad worrying. She seemed to be thinking, okay, now I've tricked you into being fastened into one of these alcoves, I'm off. No one will think of looking for you here.

No, no Loose. The pretty girl's face was never worrying to me because I knew what lay behind that "look". And I'm quite sure what she was thinking at the time of the photo had nothing at all to do with the hoisted corpses but a lot to do with more mortal things. :mad:

4th Oct 2013, 14:16

I don't necessarily "celebrate" the birthdays of my deceased mother, father and sister but I certainly remember the days they were born and quietly contemplate their lives from within.

4th Oct 2013, 14:56
I can barely remember my live parent's birthdays!

tony draper
4th Oct 2013, 15:09
A common statement used to be you achieve immortality and are remembered by your descendants,load of old bollix! until the recent interest in genealogy the vast majority of people could not even name their great Grand parents, face it, two or three generations hence even your name will be dust.

4th Oct 2013, 15:30
Checkboard wrote:

I can barely remember my live parent's birthdays!

And now you know why you get coal in your stocking for Christmas from Mum and Dad. :}

4th Oct 2013, 15:55
hence even your name will be dust.

Unless you change your name by Deed Poll to "Remembered Evermore".

Neat, eh ?