| Jonathan Harmer
was the son of a Heathfield stonemason, who used his skills as a potter to enhance his
Jonathan created a method of attaching terracotta plaques to gravestones or
tombs, which has enabled some of them to last for 200 years.
The method he devised was
to cut the outline of the terracotta into the stone, then cut about 3/4 inch
deeper into the stone creating a cavity. The terracotta plaque of the same
or slightly thicker depth was made, then the plaque was glued into the
cavity using a mortar.
He took over the family firm in 1799, and from then till 1819 he added these
unusual terracotta bas-reliefs to a large number of local grave stones. The
plaques were made using the local clay from Heathfield Park.
The colours of the plaques vary from cream to red, and feature such designs
as cherubs, vases and baskets of fruit.
Jonathan died in 1839, and the manufacture of the plaques and secret of the
mortar used to fix them died with him.
We have many in the East Sussex area -
Ashburnham (4), Brightling (1), Burwash (4), Cade Street (6), Chiddingly (1),
East Hoathly (2 see note), Glynde (1), Old Heathfield (1), Hailsham (1),
Hellingly (3), Herstmonceux (8), Salehurst (5), Wadhurst (1), Waldron (2),
and in Kent at Brookland (1) and Lamberhurst (2).
For futher details on the Harmer Family, The
Harmer Family Association have a genealogical site at http://www.harmer.org
NOTE:- the churchyard of East Hoathly has an additional
"Harmer" this is a modern
reproduction by a local potter during the 1980's and is also of very high