That’s it on the left. Unlike the other graves, it is built into the wall of the church next to the door and surrounded by iron railings.
You can see from the square and compasses with the death’s-head in its centre that this was a Freemason’s grave or monument, but it was the symbols lower down that intrigued me.
The obvious next step was to Google ‘Freemason’s gravestone code’ and, blow me, third down on the results page was this site that not only gave the answer to the code, but also featured the very same gravestone.
The inscription is written in the pig-pen cypher used by Dan Brown in The Lost Symbol and ostensibly tells the insightful reader when Thomas was born and when he died which seems a lot of trouble to have gone to.
You’ll see that there is also other symbology going on. Above the square and compasses there is the all-seeing eye with a lead sundial above that, while top left is an angel blowing a trumpet above a letter A.
Top right is a penned sheep with the moon and constellation to its left and beneath is a pointing man stood on a rock, a ladder on his left and a star under him.
Either side of the square and compasses are a two-handled cup on the left and a sun-symbol on the right and there are also carvings atop of the pillars either side.
On the left is a Christogram above which is an egg and a hand offering a coin, and on the right is a cockerel. And in the centre are the letters J Z H.
It turns out that Thomas Brierley has himself an entry on Wikipedia and a degree of mystery surrounds his death. Also a mystery is pie-wedge shape lower down which was added in 1985 which uses the same pig-pen code to give us the name ‘Richard M Kenyon’.
Quite intriguing and I haven’t even touched on the strange carvings on the ancient font inside the church.
If I was the vicar, I’d get Dan Brown over there pdq to include Mellor in his next blockbuster — the collection plate would soon be overflowing from the visitors this would attract!