Funeral Exhibit

Quiet in Our Parlour

Death and Mourning in the Victorian Period



Nannie Wharton Mourning Card. Courtesy Wharton Family Descendants

“Your cold body lies quiet in our parlour,” wrote General Wharton in 1890 about his beloved wife Nannie Radford Wharton who had died just the day before at the Glencoe Mansion. She had been struck down in the prime of her life, at only 46 years old. She was carried from her deathbed to the parlor where her funeral was held.

Visit the Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery from October 3 through November 3, to explore the funerary and mourning customs of the late 1800s. There will be a funerary scene depicting Nannie Wharton’s coffin lying in the parlor in addition to cherished Wharton family objects related to this tragic death. The exhibit will also feature objects from the period, including coffins, early embalming tools, hair jewelry and postmortem photographs.

The exhibit is seen through the prism of the Wharton family because of the amazing level of detail the family recorded about their lives. General Wharton filled his journal with the desperation he felt at the loss of his wife. The emotional series of entries records the final breath of Nannie, his inability to leave her side and his final goodbye as she was buried.

Mourning Hair Jewelry. Courtesy Original Frameworks

Mourning Hair Jewelry. Courtesy Original Frameworks

There will be a special opening of the exhibit on Tuesday, October 10, beginning at 5:30 pm. Guests will have the chance to explore the exhibit and meet with interpreters in period mourning attire. There will be a reading of General Wharton’s heartbreaking words followed by the talk, “The Soul Shall Find Itself Alone: Exploring Victorian Ways of Death and Mourning,” by B. Scott Crawford.

The exhibit is made possible by generous support from McCoy Funeral Home, Mullins Funeral Home, Original Frameworks of Blacksburg, and Wharton Family Descendants.