Due to COVID-19 this event is postponed. Please keep an eye on our website for updates.
The eighteenth century was an important time for the establishment and development of the undertaking trade. In towns and cities across England, the first undertaking businesses were started by entrepreneurial artisans who adopted the title of ‘undertaker’ and performed respectable funerals for a burgeoning middle class.
The success of these businesses ensured that the social commentators of the day noticed them and so it was that undertakers were lampooned by the same satirical culture that mocked politicians, card players and followers of fashion.
Dr O’Brien will share these images and take a glimpse at the shocking, occasionally nightmarish and always humorous world of the undertaker in caricature. In the closing decades of the long eighteenth century, the undertaker was a recognisable motif, repeated in several different images by notable satirists of the day.
These images usually depict a gaunt, stooping, sombre figure who lurks at the fringes of society, but what can this figure tell us about how the novel trade of undertaking was understood and received? How was the stereotypical image of the undertaker formed and what did it owe to the reality of the trade?
Dr Daniel O’Brien is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath. His research focuses on the undertaking trade and their products in eighteenth century England. This has included a detailed analysis of the early trade in the west of England, with a specific focus on the prosperous settlements of Bath, Bristol and Salisbury. His research also seeks to understand how the undertakers and their goods were perceived by society, by analysing how funerals were presented in the popular culture of the period. Drawing upon an eclectic range of source materials has enabled him to consider simple, but often overlooked, questions about how people’s knowledge about the early trade was formed.
We have free parking on site, and cycle racks available. There is an accessible parking space outside each chapel. Further information can be found on our Visiting Arnos Vale page.
The Anglican has a wheelchair lift and once in the building it is on the flat.
Please be aware the cafe and accessible toilets are in the Spielman Centre which are in another building. It is about 2 minutes away.
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