I wonder when it was in Post War Britain that being born out of wedlock stopped being a great social stigma, the badge that gave a member of my family born during the First World War a miserable childhood and a lifetime fearing discovery of the shameful secret. The supposed sin of the mother being visited on the child. Sarah Wrench died 1848 and was buried on the north side of St Edmund’s Church, East Mersea, in unconsecrated ground. This may have been because she was thought to have been a witch or had a child out of wedlock or both (in judgemental times the two were conveniently conflated). She is covered by a mortsafe – maybe to protect her from grave robbers or to stop her leaving the grave and troubling East Mersea residents. Misogyny comes in many guises.
Photo: Grave of Sarah Wrench, St Edmund’s Church, East Mersea, 2010