Bournemouth, England

bourne

St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth, England

Most visitors come to this resort town in the summer to take advantage of its beaches. Despite having a healthy 183,000 residents, Bournemouth is not a Cathedral Town (meaning, as you may have guessed, it has no cathedral), which is, in the complicated government/political/religious system in Britain, apparently important. It does, however, have St Peter’s Church. Most English churches and cathedrals, while well-built, are not terribly unique. However, St Peter’s Church is a slightly different story. There are one or two oddities in this town to call your attention away from its sandy shores such as the Bournemouth Eye (a hot air balloon rising 500 feet!) or the plaque marking the former location of Aubrey Beardsley’s house (the artist who added the famous illustrations to Oscar Wilde’s plays), or even the eccentric church that’s since been converted into a nightclub. But inside St Peter’s, you’ll find the heart of Bournemouth – literally. Tombs marking the graves of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), her mother Mary Wollenstonecraft (author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman), William Godwin (Shelley’s father), and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelley’s husband and a famous English Romantic poet. Bizarrely enough, the cremated remains of Percy’s heart were put in St Peter’s after his death. Sadly, I never got to see their graves…ah well. Next time.

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