Thursday, 6 December 2012

"Once Our Foe:" The Grave of Jean de Narde, Dereham

In the churchyard of St Nicholas, Dereham - the same churchyard in which St. Walstan's Well can be found (as detailed in an October 2012 entry), lies a memorial for a French soldier called Jean de Narde. The imposing-looking bell tower of St Nicholas actually stands apart from the church proper - apparently the actual church tower is not strong enough to hold the bells, making this separate structure necessary.

Supposedly dating from around the early sixteenth century, in the late 1700s the bell tower had something of a different use - that of a holding prison for French prisoners of the Napoleonic wars. On October 6th 1799, one of these prisoners managed to escape the tower, only to be shot, and killed, by a guard. He was buried in the churchyard.

The memorial was erected in tribute to de Narde in 1858, and includes a line I found particularly moving when I read it: "Once our foes but now our allies and brethren."

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